Rebecca Watson did the right thing when she spoke about McGrew’s response too her (Watson’s) response to the Elevator Guy, and Barbara Drescher’s response to all of that is amazing. If you don’t know what I’m talking about here, it might be best to move on. Otherwise, here’s my two cents (and there are exactly two) about this Matryoshka Moment.

You may recall this post about “Naming Names at the CFI Student Leadership Conference” by Rebecca Watson. Here’s the story in a nutshell. First, some guy known as “The Elevator Guy” hit, rather lamely it seems, on Rebecca in a way that one could easily argue was not only sexist but ironic. Rebecca had just given a widely loved speech addressing sexism and stuff; She had indicated that it was long past time for her to go back to her room and sleep off the day; And when the Elevator Guy and Rebecca found themselves on the elevator, he suggested they stop at his room for a drink or something. Later, Rebecca mentioned this incident, publicly, as an example of annoying sexist male behavior, though really the moment was, I think, being noted for its deep irony more than anything else. Then (sorry, this is getting complicated) Stef McGraw, a blogger, skeptic, and undergrad student posted this item responding to Rebecca’s mention of the event, in which she downplays the significance of the Guy in the Elevator. Then, in a later talk, Rebecca responded to Stef. When she did so, Rebecca mentioned Stef by name, and that made a bunch of people mad because Rebecca is a big famous scary (and she IS scary in person) dude and Stef is a little vulnerable student dude (apparently) and thus there was an imbalance of power and yada yada yada..

I may have gotten some of the details wrong, but they do not matter to the two points I want to make. To get the story, read all the posts linked to here and therein. My points are that Barbara Drescher did something interesting, and Elevator Guy is a typical guy but shouldn’t have been.

Barbara Drescher. Barbara is a friend and colleague whom I love and respect but with whom I sometimes disagree1. So is Rebecca. And for the last couple of years I’ve now and then found myself observing and thinking about the two of them telling me very different things about something. These two women could be said to exist in fairly different places along the various spectra of feminism, skeptical thinking, skeptical or atheist activism, and so on. This is a case of two people with what I think are very similar overall goals following different routes to those goals, in part because of different backgrounds and different experiences, but also just different perspectives. For my part, I think I’ve come to a better understanding of the interrelationships among skepticism, society, sexism, feminism, and so on by observing the differences in their opinions (among other things). And, without going into details (only because it is a distraction at the moment … perhaps another time) I am fairly regularly blown away by various impressive (yet different) qualities of these two women, so even if I wasn’t getting an education here I’d still be stalking them. Intellectually, of course.

Anyway, it is fair to say that most of the time Barbara and Rebecca see things somewhat differently and would be expected to disagree now and then, maybe often. But, Barbara has just posted a description (much better than mine) and analysis of what some are calling Watson-Gate (though I prefer Rebeccapocalypse). And here, Barb explicitly stands with Rebecca. You have to read this post.

My second point is about elevator guy. First, I am amused that we don’t know who he is. I wonder about him. Does he know we are talking about him? Does he have the same version of this story that Rebecca has provided us with? Her story is pretty simple, and I can’t imagine that his version could be much different, but it could be. For instance, although Rebecca does not recall any communication with Elevator Guy before the Elevator Incident, maybe there was one but she did not notice or forgot. This can happen with guys. Some guys, especially when drunk, can see signals that are not there, and over-interpret them. Maybe Rebecca failed to look away from one of his glances, or smiled to herself about something in her own head at the same time that Elevator Guy was across the room telling a joke. If he saw either of these (accidental) signals, would it not be reasonable for him to assume that she might want to have sex with him as soon as possible?

Well, no, not really. Possible, maybe likely, but not reasonable.

It is possible that Elevator Guy has miscalibrated “Hey there, handsome”-dar. It is possible that he lacks social skills. And, perhaps we could just leave it at that and chalk this up to the fact that men are generally oafish and clumsy and not too smart owing mainly to the damage done to their brains by testosterone during puberty. The problem is, this is not really good enough in our modern world. The act of not paying what may sometimes seem like excessive attention to the signaling process, among educated thoughtful progressive adults, is itself a sexist act, though I quickly add perhaps not the worst kind. But still.

I’m glad Barbara has decided to stand with Rebecca on this.

1Well, not really. Usually, she disagrees with me. Which is not the same thing.

Comments

  1. #1 badrescher
    July 2, 2011

    I must disagree with your statement that I “usually” disagree with you. I’d agree to “sometimes”. :) Nice piece. Totally agree about Elevator Guy. Responsibility, man.

  2. #2 Rorschach
    July 2, 2011

    My second point is about elevator guy. First, I am amused that we don’t know who he is. I wonder about him. Does he know we are talking about him? Does he have the same version of this story that Rebecca has provided us with?

    As I explained here, he had ample opportunity to hit on Rebecca, propose to her, become her BDSM slave. We were at that bar for a very long time that night. The guy instead chose to confront her in an elevator at 4am.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    July 2, 2011

    Ummmm…

    Anyway, yeah. :)

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    July 2, 2011

    # 3 was for Barbara. For Rorschach, always great to have eye-witness testimony!

  5. #5 Robert S.
    July 2, 2011

    The issue is not that Watson brought up a brought up a posting she thought illustrated a damaging attitude. The issue is that Watson, knowing that McGraw was at the conference, decided to attempt to publicly shame her from her privileged position at the podium. That’s both bad style and a asshole move.

  6. #6 Stephanie Z
    July 2, 2011

    Robert, do you have any idea how much verbiage has been spent telling Rebecca that she couldn’t possibly have known the guy was really trying to hit on her and she should stop trying to read minds? Did you contribute any of that? Do you need me to spell out the connection to your comment under the heading “Unequal Burdens of Proof”?

  7. #7 daedalus2u
    July 2, 2011

    I have a somewhat different perspective on this. I am a guy who has poor social skills but great skills at skepticism and science. I put that in a comment over at Erv.

    http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2011/07/bad_form_rebecca_watson.php#comment-4288800

    I really do see this as analogous to the accommodationists in the atheism debate. I see the accommodationists as trying to gain power in the atheist social hierarchy by pulling down the non-accommodationists. It is about trying to get personal social power at the expense of someone else in the hierarchy.

    In skepticism and feminism there isn’t a social power hierarchy with privilege. Any use of social power and social privilege is anti-skepticsm and anti-feminism.

    Skepticism and feminism are not social power hierarchies. To try and turn them into social power hierarchies is to destroy their utility. A skeptic gets their authority from facts and logic, a feminist gets his/her authority from being a human being.

    Using the social power you have in skepticism and in feminism is to undermine both causes.

    I wasn’t at any of the talks and haven’t gone through all of the comment threads (and won’t). I think that this is like the elephant and the blind investigators, each person can only see a little bit of it and then only from their own perspective.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    July 2, 2011

    Robert, as Stephanie points out, the issue is not only Rebecca’s choice of strategy.

    But, speaking of her strategy, your point presupposes that we’ve agreed as a community that a blog/livejournal post is one thing and a live talk is another, and interesting, some have implied (not sure if you have) that a live talk in a closed room is somehow a more spectacular “calling out” than the printed word on the it-lasts-forever internet.

    More pragmatically, I’ll just say this: Arguments in the present about the effects of posting or talking about someone’s statements or actions that rely on bigness-smallness of the actors or the severity or inherent meaning of the medium require a large number of assumptions that are trivially deconstructed.

    I would agree that Rebecca could have used a different strategy, but she didn’t. And, the strategy she used is fine. A different strategy, i.e., generalizing and not naming, would simply have resulted in a different flame war about how Rebecca Watson Makes Sraw Man Arguments!!!11!!

    Which is why I fall back on the basic premise: I respect and trust Rebecca. I don’t trust her to be perfect, I just trust her to be … well, Rebecca, and I mean that in a very good way. And Barbara too. And, I’m tickled that they are currently running in a similar orbit.

    But if one does not like Rebecca or Skepchicks, then one will not like her chosen strategy …. OR the alternative had she chosen THAT. And the fact that Barbara has made her position clear in the way she has is proof that she (Barbara) is for real.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    July 2, 2011

    daedalus2u, there is an elephant-blind-person effect here, I agree (there … ooops, someone is knocking on door … oooops, it’s the Jehovah Witnessess…. BWAHAHAQAH shoulda seen the look on their face after I told them … oh, never mind … ok, back to my comment here….)

    OK, where was I … Right. See comments on my facebook page for an example of elephants.

    But I don’t agree that feminism and other socio-political entities are so separate from skepticism (or atheism). I think that is a falsehood. And, if you read my post carefully you’ll see a nice bit of bait on this issue that hasn’t been nibbled on yet….

  10. #10 daedalus2u
    July 2, 2011

    Greg, I like Rebecca and the skepchicks and I do know Rebecca, but not well.

    I think that Rebecca is forgetting that with “great power comes great responsibility”.

    Skepticism and feminism are not about amassing the privilege that comes with “great power” to use any way you want to. They are about limiting what every power you have to use responsibly.

    In my casual reading, I thought that Rebecca did name the elevator guy. If she didn’t, then that puts a whole different perspective on it. In that case the only dickish thing that Rebecca did was gloat about her social power from being the Skepchick over that student blogger.

    In skepticism, one’s power comes from the facts and logic that one can wield. But in skepticism, one can only use that power to argue for things that are correct. In feminism, one’s privilege comes from being a human being, but one can only wield that over yourself.

    I agree that there are a lot of commonalities in skepticism, feminism and atheism. That people don’t see those commonalities is what the blind people are missing about the elephant.

  11. #11 rszasz
    July 2, 2011

    Yes, my point presupposes that we’ve agreed as a community that a blog/livejournal post is one thing and a live talk is another. Am I incorrect in thinking this? You can re-read, search, and of course follow links on the internet. None of these things are possible at a live talk.

    Watson writes about how she “was pretty frustrated” that a CFI student leader conference attendee posted the video she first responded to. Then “was blown away to be told that there were other student leaders who had expressed similar dismissive attitudes recently on Facebook and on other blogs.” Finally an hour or so before the talk someone sent her a link to McGraw’s post. How should I interpret that other then Watson getting angry and deciding to go after a student attendee from the position of keynote speaker. Please tell me how I misinterpreted this, or why doing that isn’t an asshole move. I’d hope I misread something, because otherwise I can’t see a good defense of how this was handled.

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    July 2, 2011

    Daedalus2u: She didn’t name the elevator guy. People got mad at her for naming a fellow skeptic/atheist who had publically disagreed with her (in a live journal post).

    Yes, my point presupposes that we’ve agreed as a community that a blog/livejournal post is one thing and a live talk is another. Am I incorrect in thinking this?

    I doubt that this is correct for the simple reason that the whole idea is way way to vague.

    In any event, a person made a public statement and another person responded publicly to it. Then, people complained that that second person’s response … the act, not content of the response … was abusive. I don’t agree with that because all parties joined the same game. Chastising one party for participating in an open discussion smells like post-hoc rule-mongering to me.

    I have no doubt that from some perspectives Rebecca Watson is an asshole. I’m not sure how that pertains to the current discussion, though.

    Having said that, I can also think of a half dozen alternative ways to have managed this. Not so say Rebecca should have done something that, in retrospect I happen to think of (that would be an asshole move on my part!)

    And again a reminder: There would be ways to complain about any of those alternatives as well.

  13. #13 rszasz
    July 2, 2011

    I guess I have to make it clear that I don’t think Watson is an asshole. I just think she mishandled something.

  14. #14 lido209boi
    July 2, 2011

    Awesome, the words here is “downplays”. I guess its a step up from others who said Mcgraw was telling her to “STFU or stop whining”, something that if anyone who read the blogs of Mcgraw would know that that is false.

    Personally I think Watson is in the wrong for going up in front of a bunch of people and showing comments such as
    “rape her” and then plastering Mcgraw’s blog right with those comments.

    Its as if someone went up in a speech and talked about pedophiles and flashed a bunch of their online comments and then posted my blog along with my name on a post that I did. Who knows, maybe my post was something about young girls with old guys, such as 18 year old girls with guys in their mid fifties, but then the speaker lumped me in with a bunch of priest child rapists. There is no way for the audience to know and the speaker with unlimited talking platform and a sense of authority can just flow with it.

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    July 2, 2011

    lido209boi, I doubt anyone mistook Steph for rape-threatening commenters. Anyway, let’s not lose touch with the point … dude in the elevator. I’m guessing that among those getting Rebecca’s point here there are those with certain experiences and empathy-based links to those who have had such experiences, and among those who see Steph as a victim here … not so much.

    The real victim here is the woman who was in some other elevator somewhere else in Ireland (or wherever) the same day getting raped. Rebecca was put off, nothing more, and has made no other claim. And Steph was not victimized by Rebecca but she (Steph) certainly has drawn attention away from the key point, which is simply this: Straight men need to understand that the default behavior for their gender is currently being questioned by our modern progressive society and they need to get with the program, minimally by knowing when to shut up.

    And as I write this the thought comes to mind: Elevator Guy … he’s reading all this, right?

  16. #16 daedalus2u
    July 2, 2011

    If Rebecca didn’t name the elevator guy, then the student blogger was off base for criticizing Rebecca. Rebecca was not off base for responding to that criticism in her talk (but I haven’t seen the talk and likely won’t, so my comments are based on not seeing the talk).

    It is not hypocritical for Rebecca to react as she did to the elevator guy, Rebecca has to act and react in the real world (as does everyone else). Pretending that the world is now a feminist and skepticism utopia is not helpful to anyone.

    The use of the juxtaposition of the “rape her” comments could have been appropriate to let all those naive students know that the world isn’t a feminist care bear’s tea party yet.

    I suspect that most of the damage is being done by Rebecca’s followers who think they are doing what Rebecca wants them to do (i.e. “will no one rid me of this priest”) but they are clumsy in their reasoning and execution.

  17. #17 Mandy
    July 2, 2011

    I don’t really understand the contempt being thrown at McGraw. She has only said that she felt addressing this as a keynote when she had no way to respond was disappointing of Rebecca. I don’t think the blogosphere is in the same vein as a public talk at CFI, and if you do I think you’re just pissed off that McGraw disagreed in the first place.

    The actual argument about the elevator guy is interesting but the fact that people are saying McGraw has gone “MRA” for disagreeing with Watson is pretty absurd.

  18. #18 Marnie
    July 2, 2011

    I think this issue comes down to manners more than anything else, and as a definition that I like, manners are how we make other people feel comfortable.

    We are hung up on what he might have misinterpreted and what she might have misinterpreted and how misogynistic or not the atheist/skeptical community is. But, much like women in any field predominantly dominated by men, women have found two ways to adapt.

    1. Take whatever you are given in stride and prove you can take it and stand alongside your male counterparts.
    2. Call men on their bullshit, demand that they be responsible for acting civilly and prove you are, in every way, equal to your male counterparts.

    The first puts the onus on the women to brush off inappropriate behavior, regardless of the intent of the individual (oafishness or misogyny or something else). The second puts the onus on the men to change their behavior in anticipation for the feelings of the woman.

    Neither of these is 100% effective because there’s an existing imbalance of “power” that often feels like a zero-sum game to the parties involved. Either she has to take it or he has to change.

    The idea that a man (or woman) cannot sexualize another person ever is too broad a brush stroke. Even suggesting it can’t or shouldn’t happen at conventions and events is too broad a brush stroke. But while a man might think it easier to talk to a woman privately, away from anyone who can see him being rejected, as an adult and as someone who wishes to be seen as showing good manners, he should also be aware that women, isolated from other people in a confined space, are likely to feel uncomfortable at being invited to another, even more isolated and confined space with that person.

    There’s a lot of talk about “rape prevention.” These tips and discussions are geared towards potential victims not potential rapist. A woman is expected to avoid danger and take responsibility for not “allowing” herself to be a victim and so the person (or people) who support the idea that the man might well have had the most innocent of intentions, only serve to muddy this already very muddy water. How you can you tell your daughter “don’t allow yourself to be alone with a strange man in an isolated space. Don’t go into his home or room without letting others know you are there.” and the turn around say “Well, in this one situation, THAT guy might have been nice so it was ok.” are hypocrites at best.

    A man who values the comfort and safety of a woman would not put her in a place where she can choose to be rude or she can choose to put herself in a risky situation. As a person in a place of relative privilege, it takes great manners and insight to predict how one’s behavior may be interpreted. As a woman, myself, I want to try, in return, to give people the benefit of the doubt and try to take missteps in stride but I also feel it’s completely in my rights to call someone on behavior that is intimidating and hurtful.

    Long rambling, shot, while it could be argued that Rebecca may have responded more strongly than is necessary, it doesn’t ultimately change the fact that a man put her in a position that would send up plenty of red flags for most women. His intentions or interpretation of the situation do not matter. Another woman saying that Rebecca is unreasonable doesn’t matter. A woman feeling cornered and propositioned has every right to feel the behavior is out of line and the best that can come of the situation is that the man doesn’t repeat the behavior.

  19. #19 lido209boi
    July 2, 2011

    But that is exactly the point!

    I read the first blog post that Steph wrote in response to Rebecca’s incident (discussed on a youtube video). Steph in no way told her to “STFU” nor was “downplaying” it. But how could anyone in the room know that? Heck, most of the commentators on this topic (with a functional internet) doesn’t even seem to know that. I highly doubt most of them even read the blog.

    The point is that Rebecca portrayed Steph’s blog (and the individual) as that which supports … well, rapists/misogynists. She said this on a public forum, sure, but it was a closed forum where Steph was not able to respond to her. It was said on a stage where Rebecca had full control of while Steph had none.

    To me that is the point of this whole ordeal.

    Steph in no way is saying that guys have the right to rape women, or that women should be subjected to intimidation (something that you and many others are advocating).

    “And Steph was not victimized by Rebecca but she (Steph) certainly has drawn attention away from the key point”

    So basically you’re saying that Rebecca didn’t victimized Steph, but Steph victimized Rebecca (or drawn attention away as you say). And isn’t this the whole point of this ordeal? Did Steph really victimized Rebecca with the blog posts? From my reading of it, no, Steph showed disagreement to some aspect of it.

  20. #20 bowedoak
    July 2, 2011

    There are a lot of comments on youtube, on Watson’s blog, all over the net from people disagreeing with Watson’s interpretation of the elevator incident.
    McGraw was one person who commented out of many. Watson knew McGraw was going to be in the audience. Rebecca could have made the same point she made by choosing to highlight someone who also disagreed with her, who was also a woman, who was not in the audience and whose full name and position were not given.
    Why did she choose to give anonymity to the people who said “I hope this bitch gets raped.” And anonymity to the man who she said acted inappropriate, and yet called Stef out as being just as bad as those previous mentioned.
    Stef said basically that she didn’t think it was a bad thing that someone asked her for coffee/propositioned her.
    The elevator man “sexualized” Rebecca.
    The other commenters wished Rape on Rebeccca. Stef was literally the least offensive of 90% of those comments who disagreed with Rebecca and still Rebecca lumped her in as equal to being one of “those” people.
    And she did it on twitter, at the conference where Stef was not given a chance to debate the issue, and again in her blog.
    All this over someone another woman who disagreed with her.
    That is pretty scary.

  21. #21 V. infernalis
    July 2, 2011

    I think the interesting paradox here is that rape is about power and control, and feminism is (largely) about an imbalance or disparity in power and control.

    Watson has the power and control in this situation by dint of her reputation, following, and position at the conference; McGraw does not. How is McGraw not the victim?

  22. #22 lido209boi
    July 2, 2011

    @20

    Exactly. I find it funny how Greg and PZ both posted on this topic and none of them linked to Stef’s blog (but they linked to Rebecca’s blog!). The only blog that linked back to Stef’s blog was ERV’s (who is siding with Stef on this ordeal).

  23. #23 Arakiba
    July 2, 2011

    If a guy asks a woman back to his room for a drink at 4 AM, he probably wants sex…just sayin’.

  24. #24 moonkitty
    July 2, 2011

    Watson has the power and control in this situation by dint of her reputation, following, and position at the conference; McGraw does not. How is McGraw not the victim?

    What is McGraw a “victim” of? Being publicly responded to in a public debate? Ooh, scary.

    McGraw is free to respond to Watson’s comments, and she has. Could Watson have handled the disagreement better? Perhaps, but calling McGraw a “victim” is way over the top.

  25. #25 lido209boi
    July 2, 2011

    @24

    It wasn’t a debate, a debate implies that Stef would have in turn been able to respond to Rebecca after she has laid down her case. A debate isn’t “okay, I’m going to talk for 60 minutes on stage and then whatever my opponent has to say she can go blog about it”.

    And what is Rebecca a victim of (in terms of Stef being at fault)? Everyone, even Greg here, is so caught up on what everyone is saying to Rebecca that no one is focusing on what Stef said. The whole argument from this post and others (like the linked post by Barbara) is that “we choose Rebecca’s side because of X comment by anons”. As if Stefi has to account for everyone who spoke out against Rebecca. It seems to me that most people in attendance didn’t mind the content of the speech that Rebecca talked about, only the little part where she singled Stefi out with a bunch of rapists and misogynists.

  26. #26 bowedoak
    July 2, 2011

    One thing to remember, the topic of Rebecca Watson’s speech was “The Religious Right’s War on Women.”

    So, for those saying that Rebecca has the right to call out a fellow skeptic woman who disagreed with her because Stef’s post was made on a public blog and Rebecca was speaking in a public forum:

    A) “I hope the Atheist bitch gets raped”

    B) “Since when are respecting women as equals and showing sexual interest mutually exclusive?”

    And yet they were lumped together as being equal in Watson’s speech.
    Except the person who said A) was not in the audience, was not named, was a man, was apparently part of the “Religious Right”, was misogynistic.
    and B) was in the audience, was named, was another skeptic, was a woman, was misogynistic sympathizer (according to Watson).

  27. #27 Greg Laden
    July 3, 2011

    lido209boi: I did too.

  28. #28 rszasz
    July 3, 2011

    Greg did include a link to Stef’s blog. link text (posted this item)

  29. #29 lido209boi
    July 3, 2011

    Sorry Greg, I missed the link but your blog does link back to hers.

  30. #30 dwasifar
    July 3, 2011

    “…chalk this up to the fact that men are generally oafish and clumsy and not too smart owing mainly to the damage done to their brains by testosterone during puberty.”

    Who’s sexist, again?

  31. #31 jlxn
    July 3, 2011

    The issue is that Watson, knowing that McGraw was at the conference, decided to attempt to publicly shame her from her privileged position at the podium.

    This reminds me a little of the way some politicians complain about the press directly quoting them. So, I don’t get it.

    When you inject yourself into a public discussion, it should not suprise you when you receive a public response and if what you’ve said causes you shame, it would seem to me that the solution is to better consider what you’re saying.

  32. #32 lido209boi
    July 3, 2011

    When you inject yourself into a public discussion, it should not suprise you when you receive a public response and if what you’ve said causes you shame, it would seem to me that the solution is to better consider what you’re saying.

    Kindly point out what McGraw said that was so shameful that privileged Watson to lump blog post with rapist advocating comments. What was so shameful about her blog post that merited Watson to call her a misogynist sympathizer (during a keynote speech) and a danger to feminism … like seriously, I’ll be waiting for a quote.

  33. #33 rszasz
    July 3, 2011

    The entire reason Watson had that topic as her keynote speech is that she thought a Q&A was not a valid arena to challenge a previous speaker. Watson also said on her blog that she she decided to pick McGraw because she was to be in the audience and Watson was bothered that student leaders should have such views. The problem is not that there was a public response, or that the response named McGraw, the problem is where, when, and how the response happened. If you don’t think that could matter, is not the entire point about EG where, when, and how he asked?

  34. #34 Greg Laden
    July 3, 2011

    The entire reason Watson had that topic as her keynote speech is that she thought a Q&A was not a valid arena to challenge a previous speaker.

    I don’t remember Rebecca saying that.

    Watson also said on her blog that she she decided to pick McGraw because she was to be in the audience and Watson was bothered that student leaders should have such views.

    Right, and that makes sense. I would be rather disturbed if this was the view of students in general and I’d be equally or more disturbed if a view such as this went unaddressed.

    The problem is not that there was a public response, or that the response named McGraw, the problem is where, when, and how the response happened. If you don’t think that could matter, is not the entire point about EG where, when, and how he asked?

    Good point, and one worth examining.

    I don’t think, though, that public discussion is similar to a creepy encounter on an elevator at 4 AM on your way to bed.

  35. #35 idlemind
    July 4, 2011

    Blogs are publications. Bloggers have fought hard for their particular form of expression to be recognized, to be taken seriously. Blogs are permanent and quite public. Is there really such an asymmetry here? Perhaps there is, but I think the point is at least debatable. McGraw can (and did) post again in response, and quite likely more people would read it than attended Watson’s talk (a certainty now, given the controversy).

    In any case, I think Watson chose her target quite deliberately — it does tremendous damage when self-declared feminists adopt a “boys will be boys” attitude. It’s the sort of thing sexist men will push right back in people’s faces when they are called out for their behavior. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to juxtapose it with emailed rape threats since it effectively enables such behavior, even though such enablement was probably the furthest thing from McGraw’s mind. Watson’s attitude, which in her later posting sounds a bit like “when you’ve been around a while longer you’ll see what I’m talking about” may seem a bit elitist, but I don’t see how she could have conveyed the message any better.

  36. #36 jlxn
    July 4, 2011

    Kindly point out what McGraw said that was so shameful that privileged Watson to lump blog post with rapist advocating comments. What was so shameful about her blog post that merited Watson to call her a misogynist sympathizer (during a keynote speech) and a danger to feminism

    It doesn’t matter much what Watson or McGraw said, they are both adults. From what I’ve read about it, they have both acted like adults. They are both entitled to their own ideas and they are both entitled to express their ideas.

    I don’t know that McGraw said anything shameful, I didn’t mean to imply that McGraw did. I meant to say that in a public discussion, you are responsible for what you say.

    How you, or anyone, else choose to view the exchange is subjective. It appears that you see it as Watson taking advantage of her position in the community to publically shame McGraw. I see it as Watson simply citing McGraw in a public discussion.

  37. #37 rszasz
    July 4, 2011

    I was wrong about one thing at least, she changed the first 30 minutes of her talk, not the whole thing. I don’t know if I will be able to hunt the comment back down now, but will try.

  38. #38 jdi
    July 4, 2011

    Greg wrote:
    “[P]erhaps we could just leave it at that and chalk this up to the fact that men are generally oafish and clumsy and not too smart owing mainly to the damage done to their brains by testosterone during puberty.”

    Your bigotry is showing. That’s a very sexist thing to say.

  39. #39 Smitty
    July 4, 2011

    Is there any evidence that elevator guy exists? Maybe he’s a fictional character or an amalgam of several different men? Was he a straw man? (oops! I mean, straw person)

    Didn’t she get married at TAM a couple of years ago? I can’t imagine what that lovely man could have done to made her kick him to the curb.

  40. #40 Stephanie Z
    July 4, 2011

    Smitty, is there any evidence that you have any reasonable basis for attempting to attack Rebecca’s character instead of listening to her request to back off?

  41. #41 lido209boi
    July 5, 2011

    @36

    What they say does matter because as you’ve said if you say something shameful you should be accountable for it. The arguments from the pro-Stef side is merely saying that at best Stef’s blog post was a dissenting view. What is happening now is that the pro-Stef side wants Rebecca to be accountable for her actions. But I can respect that you don’t view what transpired to be an abuse of power from a public speaker on stage. What a lot of people (me included) are so peeved about is that many others are not focusing on that act (they aren’t pouncing on Rebecca for the elevator incident, they are getting her as a public speaker), which is what the whole thing is about.

    @Greg

    Good point, and one worth examining.

    I don’t think, though, that public discussion is similar to a creepy encounter on an elevator at 4 AM on your way to bed.

    DING DING DING! That is all that people are doing, examining that while you (and others) are derailing that into another incident.

    *sarcasm* I don’t think, though, that getting hit on in an elevator at 4 AM is similar to Muslim girls getting their genitals mutilated.

  42. #42 Robert S.
    July 6, 2011

    Here is the link to the comment which says Watson said a Q&A was not what she was willing to use. I guess I have to try tracking down the video of the Dublin panel to confirm.

    http://www.unifreethought.com/2011/06/fursdays-wif-stef-33.html?showComment=1309713971895#c7347153026363066566

  43. #43 Paul Murray
    July 7, 2011

    I also had misunderstood and thought that she (skepchick) had named the elevator guy from the podium at a conference. If this is not the case, then I wish I could go back and erase my posts.

  44. #44 Pieter B
    July 7, 2011

    Marnie wrote

    while a man might think it easier to talk to a woman privately, away from anyone who can see him being rejected

    I’ve seen a number of variations on this analysis of CEG’s actions. My reaction is that if you start your interaction with a woman by asking her to go out with you*, chances are very good that you’re going to get turned down.

    Instead, why not approach the group she’s in, get a feel for the flow of the conversation, and join in at an appropriate moment when you’ve got something to contribute? You know, like you’re actually interested in the woman as something other than a potential sex partner? Once you’ve established some common ground, if you get a bit of a connection, then you can make an invitation.

    * this is not to imply that I agree in any way whatsoever with the people who describe what Creepy Elevator Guy did as “asking her out.”

  45. #45 NeuralCulture
    July 7, 2011

    Language is important. The encounter was only “creepy” because Mrs. Watson [i]said[/i] it was creepy. Let’s try to remember that, because it’s coloring the entire discussion.

    The Elevator Guy may not even exist, and even if he does the totality of his [i]faux pas[/i] was not being attractive enough (however one may define that) to elicit the same feelings in RW that she elicited in him. The only thing we know for sure in the encounter is that he offered her coffee, she didn’t want it, and when she told him that he ceased to pursue the issue.

    With different descriptive language this could be an example of exactly what a man is [i]supposed[i] to do when propositioning a lady: Be discreet, be polite, offer to get to know her before offering anything sexual (would you like to go to my room for coffee?), and if rebuffed, drop the advance immediately.

    The point of rape prevention and awareness is not to keep all women from ever feeling uncomfortable when propositioned by a man (despite all that Schrondiger’s Rapist stuff), but to keep women from being raped.

    In conclusion, the only thing we know for sure about Elevator Guy is that he did not, in fact, rape Mrs. Watson.

  46. #46 Stephanie Z
    July 7, 2011

    NeuralCulture, don’t tell me you’re still wandering around without having had this explained to you. It was creepy (not “creepy”) because Elevator Guy ignored wishes Rebecca had been expressing all day and all evening because he wanted to do something else. Then he did it in when she was trapped. Would you care to explain to me what isn’t creepy about, “Now that I’ve got you alone and stuck, let me show you I don’t know what ‘No’ means”?

  47. #47 NeuralCulture
    July 8, 2011

    @Stephanie Z
    According to RW’s own admission, the hypothetical “Elevator Guy” did indeed know what RW meant by “no.”

    Once told “No, I don’t want to have coffee with you” he backed off immediately, according to Mrs. Watson herself.

    What I haven’t had explained to me in a satisfactory manner is what exactly he did wrong by asking her to join him for coffee in the first place.

    That Mrs. Watson felt “threatened” or uncomfortable is irrelevant. Those are her feelings, and her feelings do not change the fact that she was neither threatened, demeaned, harassed, or had her rights violated in any way.

  48. #48 Michael
    July 8, 2011

    Ok this is getting old. Here are a few things that no one seems to point out. #1 Watson is at the very least quasi famous. #2 No one knows anything about elevator guy. everyone is making assumptions about him, so I will too.

    Elevator guy attends a conference where Watson (who is famous and respected) speaks. Elevator guy wants to talk to Watson, maybe even has day dreams about becoming friends with her. Maybe elevator guy is gay and has no sexual interest whatsoever. Or maybe he’s already in a relationship. Or maybe he’s having a party in his apartment and his friends would forever revere him if he showed up with Watson.

    Or how about this. Elevator guy is staying at the hotel for something completely different. He didn’t hear the speech and doesn’t know who Watson is, he’s been out drinking all night and gets on an elevator with a woman he finds attractive. Maybe he’s shy, maybe he just now worked up courage to be forward in any sort of way. Maybe he’s had a bad life and he has nothing to lose. My point is that no one has considered that this guy could be a poor guy who wanted to talk to someone he respected.

    Any of that sound silly? So does calling him a creep, potential rapist, etc… There’s no way this guy doesn’t know about the Watson/Dawkins debacle, and if I’m right this guys self confidence is destroyed. Forever.

    Here’s the fact, she assumed he was a creep because he was a man. If she had been in the elevator with a lesbian that was bigger and stronger than her, who had done the same thing, would we have even heard about this?

    I somehow doubt it.

  49. #49 Stephanie Z
    July 8, 2011

    NeuralCulture, did you miss the part about her saying all day she didn’t want to be hit on? Seriously? After all of this?

  50. #50 Raging Bee
    July 8, 2011

    Here’s the fact, she assumed he was a creep because he was a man.

    That’s not a “fact” at all, you stupid asshole. She CONCLUDED he was a creep because he was ACTING CREEPY. (So are you when you try to make excuses for him while getting your “facts” wrong.) The only reason “this is getting old” is because morons like you keep on ignoring what everyone else here is saying and getting everything you talk about dead wrong. If you find US tiresome, then take your ignorant grudges somewhere else. Trust me, we won’t stop you, nor will we miss you.

  51. #51 Raging Bee
    July 8, 2011

    What I haven’t had explained to me in a satisfactory manner…

    You show up here out of the blue, without bothering to read ANY of what’s been said repeatedly ad nauseam before, and now you’re lecturing us about how unsatisfied you are with our conduct? Fuck off, you pompous little brat. Your “satisfaction” is not our problem.

  52. #52 NeuralCulture
    July 8, 2011

    Stephanie, no, I did not miss that part. Nor did I miss the part where someone who asked someone else for coffee is being treated as a sexual predator. It’s just silly. Unless you’re ready to make the “coffee = sex” argument, then I guess we could argue about that, too.

    Bee, this is twice you’ve made the assumption that I haven’t read the entire thread, and twice that you’ve been wrong in that assumption. I think it’s safe to say you’re making many other incorrect assumptions about my person as well.

  53. #53 Stephanie Z
    July 8, 2011

    So, NeuralCulture, you’re saying Elevator Guy has been arrested and tried? That he’s been forced to register?

  54. #54 NeuralCulture
    July 8, 2011

    Nope, but that isn’t the only way one gets treated as a sexual predator, and you know that. Nice attempt at deflection, though. Credit where it’s due.

  55. #55 Raging Bee
    July 8, 2011

    Nor did I miss the part where someone who asked someone else for coffee is being treated as a sexual predator.

    You clearly missed (or ignored) the other factors in this incident that gave RW plenty of good reason to think the guy might be a sexual predator. Like, you know, time, place, appearance of intoxication, other things you seem desperate to ignore because calling RW “silly” is more important to you.

    If you want us to think you’ve read up on this, then stop acting like you haven’t.

  56. #56 Stephanie Z
    July 8, 2011

    So, then, you’re saying that Rebecca saying, “No,” and telling other guys she and many other women don’t like that or want them to do that is treating him like a predator?

  57. #57 NeuralCulture
    July 8, 2011

    Bee, you can scream it from the rooftops but that does not make it true, nor does the simple act of reading your argument automatically convert others to your point of view. I’m sorry I have to be the one to inform you of that, it’s really quite amazing that you’ve made it this far in life without someone else already doing so.

    Also, I never called RW silly.

  58. #58 randy
    July 11, 2011

    “A teacher with the Nova language school, Ms Hawker had been approached on the street by Ichihashi and agreed to give him an English class. After the hour-long lesson in a coffee shop, Ichihashi told her that he did not have any money with him and that they should go back to his apartment so he could pay her.”

    Ms Hawker was found dead later, buried in sand on Ichihashi’s balcony

  59. #59 Ath
    July 13, 2011

    Stephanie Z wrote “So, then, you’re saying that Rebecca saying, “No,” and telling other guys she and many other women don’t like that or want them to do that is treating him like a predator?”

    If I might chime in, I would say that no, telling other guys that she and many other women don’t like that sort of thing is treating him like a predator. I would say, however, that that’s not all she did. She called the guy sexist and a misogynist and said that she was “sexually objectified.” Those words do imply threatening and predatory behavior.

  60. #60 Ath
    July 13, 2011

    Raging Bee wrote “That’s not a “fact” at all, you stupid asshole. She CONCLUDED he was a creep because he was ACTING CREEPY.”

    Everyone has their own view on what is and is not creepy. I think the guy’s behavior wasn’t creepy, but it was was “inappropriate” and “bad taste.” That’s my opinion.

    What I object to is the extension of a creepy determination – which is up to Stephanie Watson to determine – what she finds creepy she finds creepy, and even if she is the only woman in the world who finds the behavior creepy, it would be just as legitimate for her to feel that way – what I object to is calling it MISOGYNY, and SEXUAL OBJECTIFICATION, etc.

    The guy asked her to his room for coffee, and if it meant coffee (maybe he was gay? who knows?), then it meant coffee. If it meant a ride on the baloney poney, then it was an impertinent suggestion, and Rebecca found it creepy. That does NOT make the guy a woman hating sexist antifeminist sexual objectifier.

  61. #61 Stephanie Z
    July 13, 2011

    Ath, you might have a bit of a problem confusing the person for the behavior. Elevator Guy behaved in a sexist manner as he is trained to do: Put his own desires ahead of the multiply expressed desires of a woman (to not be hit on, to go to sleep) and ahead of any reasonable concern she might have for her safety. He didn’t have to hate anyone or any philosophy of equality to do that–just not think about them as a full human being like himself, to think of her instead as an object of his desire. Nor does acting sexist in this one circumstance mean that he’s not generally a decent guy at times other than 4 a.m. But being (presumably) a decent guy doesn’t make his behavior in this circumstance any less sexist either.

    Also, where did she call Elevator Guy sexist or mysogynist? Quotes and links, please.

  62. #62 Raging Bee
    July 13, 2011

    Everyone has their own view on what is and is not creepy.

    And her view matters more than yours because she was the one being imposed upon.

    …what I object to…

    You just admitted she has her own view, and right away you’re raising objections and trying to invalidate her view? Can’t you at least not contradict yourself quite so quickly? Do you respect her feelings and interests, or do you not?

    You tried to make assertions of fact, and then, when your “facts” got debunked, now you’re trying to pretend it’s all a matter of opinion. When I was in grade-school, this style of argument-losing was known as “crybaby subjectivism.” And quite frankly, it has no place in a grownup debate. Neither does your desperate attempt to pretend that your opinion of an incident matters more than that of the person who was actually there.

  63. #63 hellohelpmewithquestionsthankyoulol
    July 15, 2011

    Okay, Rebecca is complaining that guys are hitting on her all the time at conferences.

    Well, okay but what does she mean by that?

    Does that mean guys are flirting with her and that annoys her because flirting is sexualizing? Or does she mean that men are straight out constantly propositioning her for sex?

    If it’s the first case then I think she’s a hypocrite because she does that to men. (as has been noted by previous bloggers) If it’s the second case then maybe she’s just interpreting men as propositioning her? I mean based on her knee jerk assessment of a guy asking her out for coffee, it sounds like she kind of projects sexual intentions on to men. Am I naive for thinking that way?

  64. #64 Raging Bee
    July 15, 2011

    Well, okay but what does she mean by that?

    Gee, I dunno, why don’t you try reading the many-times-quoted text of what she herself said? Last I checked, her words weren’t all that hard to understand. (For starters, she was NOT “complaining that guys are hitting on her ‘all the time’ at conferences.”)

  65. #65 Richard Manning
    July 15, 2011

    Well the video where she talks about the incident and what she writes elsewhere are two different things. She talks about being hit on constantly on one of her blogs but I can’t find the source but its been mentioned a number of times.

    In the video she talkss about a guy who wants to talk “more” by inviting her up for coffee.

    Nothing wrong with wanting to talk with a gal “more”. If Rebecca wants to read intentions into that that’s her perogative.

    It wasn’t like it was somebody who she hadn’t spoken to before. I could understand how that would be weird.

  66. #66 Richard Manning
    July 15, 2011

    Okay, this is what is going on.

    Rebecca Watson insists that she explicitly told guys not to sexualize her on the panel discussion with Richard Dawkins.

    However the actual panel discussion which was uploaded by AronRa she never talks about being sexualized in the kind of way that she purports elevator guy is doing to her.

    She doesn’t talk about being hit on at all she talks about getting crude emails.

    Rebecca Watson distorts things and does not know how to distinguish between her feelings and reality.

    That doesn’t make her a good feminist or a good skeptic.

    So this is what people are referring to when they talk about how Rebecca had already told others that she didn’t like being hit on at conferences. Sadly that’s not what she said at all and the so called skeptics never bothered to check their sources.

  67. #67 Stephanie Z
    July 15, 2011

    Richard, Rebecca has said she doesn’t know who Elevator Guy is and hadn’t been talking to him. Were you there to know otherwise?

  68. #68 Richard Manning
    July 15, 2011

    “Richard, Rebecca has said she doesn’t know who Elevator Guy is and hadn’t been talking to him. Were you there to know otherwise?”

    Because she never to my knowledge claimed that he had never talked to her. I watched the video of her account of the incident and she never made that explicit.

    In fact the Elevator guy said:

    “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk MORE. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?”

    Ie. MORE as in he had already spoken to her.

    “Now this was all she had to say….
    Just a word to the wise here, guys. Don’t do that. I don’t know how else to explain how this makes me very uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out: I was a single women in foreign country in a hotel elevator with you, just you, and I—don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.”

    So until Rebecca provides more details of the circumstances of the incident it is reasonable to infer that they had previous conversation based on the wording of EG’s so called “proposition”

    “right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.”

    Actually her keynote lecture did not include that form of sexualization in the actual video of the lecture she talks about crude emails. Crude emails are not the same thing of course.

    If you can give me the source where Rebecca says those things then I will stand corrected.

  69. #69 Greg Laden
    July 16, 2011

    Richard, what is your point?

  70. #70 Richard Manning
    July 16, 2011

    My point is that it’s not as egregious to do what EG did when you consider that they were already chatting each other up.

    Most of the people denouncing EG miss that point. It’s not like it came out of nowhere.

    Maybe it was foolish of him and maybe they were both drinking. In the words of the eminent secular theologian Richard Dawkins it was zero bad.

    As for the part where I point out that she never talked about not getting hit in her lecture my point is that point used against EG has no foundation.

    This is a little like Roshomon in miniature. Is our culture so unable to deal with ambiguity over the slightest of sexual matters that we all feel the need to project our sexual assumptions onto a situation and drop all critical thinking skills?

  71. #71 Giliell
    July 16, 2011

    In the words of the eminent secular theologian Richard Dawkins it was zero bad.

    In the words of the pretty unknown internet denizen Giliell: You don’t get to decide that.
    You know, you don’t get to decide what RW or any other woman on the planet feels to be bad.

    Most of the people denouncing EG miss that point. It’s not like it came out of nowhere.

    Yes, it’s amazing how a lot of people can have their cake and eat it, too.
    Why are people so upset, he only wanted coffee as in hot beverage, why is she upset, she should be glad anybody wants to have sex with her, how could he have know she didn’t like that, since he was a stranger, why was it bad, he seemed to know her…
    All possible scenarios play out for him. He’s always excused.

    drop all critical thinking skills

    Yes, I know, us womenz, we’re just irrational oversensitive creatures.
    Sorry, I’m fed up with this. That’s another meme, declaring it’s irrational and also sexist for women to fear a sexual assault in such situations, when our whole existence tells us that this is a very real thing.

    As for the part where I point out that she never talked about not getting hit in her lecture my point is that point used against EG has no foundation.

    This remionds me of my daughter, who is 4 years old.
    “you said I should not bite my sister, but you never said I shouldn’t push her down the sofa.

  72. #72 Stephanie Z
    July 16, 2011

    You may recall that last week I posted this video, in which I describe an unpleasant encounter I had with a fellow atheist that I thought might serve as a good example of what men in our community should strive to avoid – basically, in an elevator in Dublin at 4AM 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.

    Richard, it’s considered a best practice to read the links in a post on which you want to comment, particularly the first link in the post. These generally contain relevant information that can help make you look less like an ass when you start to argue with the point of the post.

  73. #73 Maureen Brian
    July 16, 2011

    Richard,

    There is a subset of men – some arrogant, some socially awkward – who run into problems with women in a particular way. Yes, they may have bumped into her 3 times in the check-out queue. Yes, they may have dined several times at the place where she waits table. Perhaps, in the case of EG, they have been watching/listening/lusting after someone for 12 hours or more.

    None of those, as sometimes has to be pointed out, means that they already have a relationship with her – whatever may have been going on in their head (or other organs).

    So, approaching such a woman must be treated with due caution because you are approaching a stranger.

    The vast majority of such men turn out to be gormless geeks and eventually learn but at the other end of the spectrum are the few who turn out to be stalkers, serial rapists and killers. Some of those go to amazing lengths to set up a quasi-relationship so that when the corpse is found and all those staying at an entirely different hotel – Oslo, say? – are questioned he can say “but I was drinking in the bar with her ……..” The problem is you can’t tell which is which just by looking at them and sometimes the initial approach is identical.

    As for why Rebecca did not spell out every possible permutation, is this not an audience which prides itself on being brighter than the average bear? Besides, it could have been tedious for those who have already worked it out for themselves.

  74. #74 Richard Manning
    July 16, 2011

    Well the fact of the matter is she left out that pertinant information before Unifreethinkers Stef Mcgraw and Rose St. Clair could evaluate.

    So when she comes back with a contradictory update she can zing them with.

    “I hear a lot of misogyny from skeptics and atheists, but when ancient anti-woman rhetoric like the above is repeated verbatim by a young woman online, it validates that misogyny in a way that goes above and beyond the validation those men get from one another.”

    So these two females interpret the situation differently and what they get is that?

    Message: Agree with me or you MUST be a misogynist. If you got to the UNI Freethinkers website you will find that 2 women or about 40% percent of the females on links list on right hand column voiced disagreement with Rebecca. Do you think that they sacrificed their self-respect by selling out to the patriarchy.

    I am sorry but failing to be aware that some people might not see things the way you do is not misogyny, it’s egocentricism.

    If men and women are to get along you can’t privilege on narrative over another narrative. Their are two sides to every story.

    You don’t know what it’s like to be accused of hitting on girls when you haven’t been. If you did you would know that female perceptions are not as infallible those accusers want you to think.

  75. #75 Greg Laden
    July 16, 2011

    Their are two sides to every story.

    BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZTTT

    Everything you were saying up to this point was pretty much bullshit, but vague bullshit, bullshit like maybe you were just confused. But this pegs you as a poser. Are you seriously claiming to be a skeptic and to be speaking to and about skeptics and you come out with THIS???? Holy crap.

  76. #76 Richard Manning
    July 16, 2011

    I didn’t claim to be a skeptic and if by skeptic you mean that I deny the existence of a supernatural reality then I’m not a skeptic. I do however sympathize with the idea that science tells us important things about the world.

    But now I’m poser? LOL. Yep I figured you sniff out me as a “poser” LOL with that expression.

    “There are two sides to every story.” – Yes if you take it too literally it’s complete “BS” but we don’t all have to be ultra-literalists do we?

    The very fact that just by determining that I’m not a skeptic that you think that I’m a “poser” says a lot about your critical thinking skills. You do have a great Gaydar for people who aren’t skeptics. I don’t know what that refinement of sensibilities says about your world view but I think it’s funny.

  77. #77 Matthew
    July 23, 2011

    Does anyone know if “elevator guy” has actually commented on this anywhere? He really must be wondering … WTF!?!?

    I have this very strange desire to get involved in this discussion. I like discussion. It’s much better than, like, doing stuff. I tried registering over at the skepchick site, and on one level I succeeded – I got a login and a randomly-generated password. But I can’t actually “do” anything. After about a nanosecond (and a slap to the forehead) it dawned on me that a million other people are probably attempting to do the same, and somebody’s just jack of it and switched it all off.

    This furore’s fascinating. I didn’t think there was anything odd about rebecca’s original comment. It seemed quite reasonable, actually. And I think she said it very nicely. I think she’s done a great service to a lot of previously-uninformed chaps by being honest with them and saying something they can probably profit from by hearing. And she didn’t even really rag on the guy who approached her – he still lives in peaceful obscurity.

    The response, though. Wow. It really is a bunch of cliches. On one side we’ve got about a billion young, frustrated, angry guys projecting just about everything that’s ever scared them about life, women and relationships onto one fairly harmless comment. On the other side we’ve got (it seems to me) a bunch of people pitching their responses way over the head of their intended targets. Seriously – talking about “privileged in groups” and using terminology from a critical theory textbook is kind of a waste of time. I also think there’s a bit of “avoiding the subject” going on there as well.

    It’s a communication train wreck, overall.

    Watson’s video “dating advice” is a missed opportunity, IMHO. She shouldn’t HAVE to be the one in the position of explaining the problem, but she does have the attention of quite a few chaps just now – and a few of them might even be listening. No, it’s not her job. No, she’s not responsible for the emotional wellbeing of thousands of faceless angry boys who’re hurling vile abuse at her. I’m impressed at her apparent composure. I don’t blame her for the “buy a doll” thing (and the watermelon comment … who on earth …?!?). But speaking as a guy who has actually BEEN one of those lowlifes (oh, you have no idea) I think a better response to the “but how will we get laid” question might have been: “Not like that, for starters”.

    Guys are clueless. About as clueless than girls, in fact. Everyone likes to THINK they’re clueful, but I think there’s much less clue in circulation than we all like to believe. And nobody’s really helping to spread the clues around, either. It seems to me that the “skeptic” community might actually be uniquely well-placed to try a different approach – that being to actually spell it out for those who desperately want to hear it, thus generating a bunch of freshly-minted clue for the clue economy. A lot of guys don’t “get it”, and that goes for us nerds as well. The degree of misinformation and bull passed around as advice on the boy/girl thing is staggering. The problem is misinformation and a lack of reliable guidance. Who could possibly address this BETTER than the skepto-sphere?

    Speaking as somebody who has pretty much done every stupid thing imaginable (I’m actually surprised I’ve survived this long and avoided being beaten to death by people who would have very likely been excused for doing so – I’m also pleasantly surprised that I also haven’t killed myself in a range of other embarrassing and depressing ways), I think I have a reasonably well-developed perspective on the matter of cluelessness. I hate to think that it’s going to come down to me actually doing something about it though. But I look around, and I don’t see anyone else stepping up …

    Please don’t make it be me. It would be better if somebody else did it.

    ObOpinion: I think dawkins thoroughly misheard what rebecca watson was saying. Utterly. I’m surprised that he hasn’t addressed this properly yet. No, it WON’T just go away. Communicate!

  78. #78 R
    July 24, 2011

    “Their are two sides to every story.

    BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZTTT

    Everything you were saying up to this point was pretty much bullshit, but vague bullshit, bullshit like maybe you were just confused. But this pegs you as a poser. Are you seriously claiming to be a skeptic and to be speaking to and about skeptics and you come out with THIS???? Holy crap.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Anytime there is a situation where more than one person is involved, such as the elevator incident, then yes…there is more than one side of the story. That’s why in a court of law there is both a prosecution and a defense. Because when there is a conflict, there is more than one side of the story. You should know this.

    Speaking of skeptism, being a skeptic, or at least that’s the idea that’s being driven home, is insisting that one’s conclusions be formed on the foundation of evidence. Evidence. Let that word sink in. There is no evidence to support the accusations that EG wanted anything other than what he asked for. There are only beliefs. There is no evidence to support the accusation that EG was a misogynist. There are only beliefs. There is no evidence to support the accusation that EG even heard RW say she was tired and wanted to go to bed. There are only beliefs. Beliefs…you know…those things that skeptics like to shoot creationists down with due to there being no evidence to support them. It appears the hypocrisy has reared its ugly head in the skeptic community, here. It’s been said that when one becomes obsessed with a fear or hatred, eventually we become that which we fear or hate the most. This has been a perfect example of that.

    Regarding RD: Going to quote an entry that someone else made on another blog that puts RD’s point in perspective.

    “Was anywhere near this amount of discussion or shows of support when Mohammed Bouyeri killed Theo Van Gogh and stabbed a letter into his chest threatening the life of Ayan Ali Hirsi, the feminist atheist who had previously received widespread death threats after making a movie with Van Gogh criticizing Islam’s view towards women? Did the skeptical community rally around her when she was under siege and had to go into hiding after Van Gogh’s murder, and raise a firestorm of publicity about the issue, and about the work Hirsi had done throughout her life that put her at such risk?”……response: ”
    Not enough of a big deal was made about it, and not nearly enough people got outraged by it, even in the skepchick site. Ironically Richard Dawkins and the RDF have been the biggest proponents of her speaking out against female oppression in Islam. You know what, that kind of puts what he said into perspective. I think RW hit a nerve with RD because his organization actually does something to help women who are actually being harmed, and Rebecca came out and said the skeptic movement was sexist because she gets hit on too much and gets hate mail.

    Richard Dawkins actually does something and gives ayaan ali hirsi a spot on the RDF website to speak freely about sexism in Islam, uses the RDF to provide childcare at skeptic conventions.

    Rebecca Watson throws parties and whines about being uncomfortable in an elevator.

    Hmm I think Dawkins wins as a skeptic fighting for oppressed women, not Rebecca.”

  79. #79 Greg Laden
    July 24, 2011

    R, your discussion of evidence bored me so I didn’t read it. Regarding your first comments, you made an explicit claim, that there are two sides to every story. I called you on it. Now you’re changing your story but insisting that the new version of your story is what you originally said.

    BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT

    (again)

  80. #80 Matthew
    July 25, 2011

    Was anywhere near this amount of discussion or shows of support when Mohammed Bouyeri killed Theo Van Gogh and stabbed a letter into his chest threatening the life of Ayan Ali Hirsi, the feminist atheist who had previously received widespread death threats after making a movie with Van Gogh criticizing Islam’s view towards women?

    The thing that tends to create argument (and thus comment-inches) is a difference of opinion. Without disagreement, discussion tends to subside fairly rapidly after everyone’s agreed with one another. I tend to think that most reasonable people will have had almost exactly the same reaction to the van gogh murder (at least, those who heard about it, understood its significance, and maybe cared … not everyone gets het up about the same things, you know). It’s really not something that needed to be debated all that much. If there had been some faction that stridently declared that van gogh or hirsi ali had it coming then I think there might have been a fair bit more vitriol on the blogz.

    Also, without actually knowing the people involved, it’s fairly hard to say very much at all in a situation like that, apart from the very obvious – it’s a bad thing, it shouldn’t have happened, and so on. But we all agree on that, so … how much discussion do you really expect?

    By comparison, the reason that there has been so much discussion on this topic is because there is very genuine disagreement (mistaken disagreement, in most cases, IMHO). This is also the sort of topic that affects most people directly, sooner or later. So why not discuss it?

  81. #81 Matthew
    July 25, 2011

    “There is no evidence to support the accusation that EG was a misogynist. There are only beliefs. There is no evidence to support the accusation that EG even heard RW say she was tired and wanted to go to bed. There are only beliefs.”

    And if RW had named the guy and accused him of being a misogynist then you might have a point. All she did was describe a situation and point out that it made her uncomfortable. Put aside all the aggro since, and just focus on what she said. Why’s it such a big deal?

    “It appears the hypocrisy has reared its ugly head in the skeptic community, here.”

    Flies/vinegar.

    “It’s been said that when one becomes obsessed with a fear or hatred, eventually we become that which we fear or hate the most.”

    I’m a funnelweb spider?

  82. #82 lifts
    July 25, 2011

    I think the guy in the elevator needs to be given a break. He obviously lacked understanding about what he did perhaps causing rebecca to feel uncomfortable. However, there’s been so much hoo ha about it now that any self respecting man should know not to ask women for coffee in elevators!

  83. #83 Raging Bee
    July 25, 2011

    There is no evidence to support the accusations that EG wanted anything other than what he asked for. There are only beliefs.

    Yeah, and when I call a man “gay,” there’s no evidence to support the accusation that I’m talking about anything other than his sunny disposition, right? We’ve discussed that issue here already, and you’re late to the discussion and apparently have to have us repeat everything that’s already been said for your benefit.

    There is no evidence to support the accusation that EG was a misogynist.

    There is no accusation that EG was a misogynist.

  84. #84 derp
    January 13, 2012

    just some unrelated thoughts, i’m sure you won’t approve this comment:
    wow greg, you really have been brainwashed by all this extreme feminist madness. women are not, by default, right at all times.
    complaining about everything men do is getting old. it’s the same as blaming the current generation of germans for what the country did during WW2. it’s not the same.
    i wonder how many of these extreme feminists approach guys, or expect men to approach them? i’m not saying everytime a man approaches a woman she must be so grateful and flattered that she fucks him on the spot; men make bad decisions, as do women, but men make more moves therefore women have more recipient stories to tell. that certainly sucks to not have to put yourself out there and face rejection, i feel so sorry for you.

    ps. not sure how many times we have to say this but not all men are rapists. get that into your fucking skulls, if i have to say it one more time i’m going to rape somebody.

  85. #85 Greg Laden
    January 13, 2012

    I hadn’t noticed that men “make more moves.” Has that been your experience?

    Anyway, you are right, I don’t approve of that comment.

  86. #86 Raging Bee
    January 13, 2012

    ps. not sure how many times we have to say this but not all men are rapists.

    This thread is over six months old; and no one here actually said all men are rapists. So you’ve already said that more times than you had to. If it pisses you off to think you have to repeat something, maybe you should ask yourself whether you really have to repeat it, before repeating it.

  87. #87 Krumple
    Seattle
    January 13, 2013

    “This thread is over six months old; and no one here actually said all men are rapists.”

    Well actually they are. This idea comes from a post that was made on FTB where someone asked, “Should men have the burden of proof?” Asking the question should men have to prove that they are not rapists and a huge majority over there thought that was perfect acceptable that men should have to prove they are not rapists. Our current law system doesn’t even work that way. It is essentially saying you are guilty until you prove your innocents. It makes all males criminals until they prove they are not criminals. Essentially this line of reasoning is how the majority of FTB feminists want society to shift towards where males are obligated to prove they are not rapists.

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