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.
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:
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.
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.
Emphasis fucking added. Oh, and now you have your explanation, Ricahrd.
- Rebecca Watson, Barbara Drescher and the Elevator Guy
- Shut up about everything all the time unless what you have to say is HITLER!!!!
Added, from Atheist Cartoons: