Skepchick Blues

Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers are engaged in a disagreement about the merits of a complaint made by a female member of the atheist community who attended a skeptics conference and complained about horny guys in a Youtube video she posted after the event.  I favor Richard Dawkins take on the situation, though many of PZ’s Army are outraged that Dawkins doesn’t get it,

The best case I can make for Skepchick is a weak one at best.  She’s sitting around a bunch of drunk guys at four a.m. in a bar telling them how she hates that guys find her attractive enough to be diverted away from her brilliant mind.  Other feminist atheists aren’t burdened with this baggage, and she actually names one in her post-‘assault’ video.  No explanation is given, so one is left to guess at the difference in attitudes of the males towards the different atheist females.  Is it a simple function of youth and beauty?  Could it be that Ms. Skepchick is inadvertently spewing great clouds of feminine pheromones that the other female lacks?  Is she truly as clear and unambiguous in her engagements with these males as she asserts, or is there a bit of subconscious flirtation involved in a bar location?  Does the other female drink her male associates under the table ’til early in the a.m. and then later make videos complaining about their lack of alcoholic flexibility? Curious minds want to know.  There’s science at stake here.

PZ is super in his support of these poor helpless girls. He’s also attempted to write “The Geek Atheist Guide to Dating and Relationships for Dummies“. Pretty good effort IMHO, but the official post title invokes a promise of info on how to get the geek girls to have sex (get laid) with you.  I don’t know if I’m suppose to laugh at that, or be “Skepchick outraged” that anybody would be rude enough to attempt such futile maneuvers.  For the record, suggesting a late night chat over coffee in your hotel room should be crossed off your “ways to woo Skepchick” checklist.

As to the ‘event’ that triggered the skeptic girl to lash out? Pffft. In a perfect world maybe everybody would read PZ (or Miss Manners??) and all courtship rituals would be formally agreed to beforehand, thereby eliminating any chance of awkwardness. Even then, there are going to be social misfits, not to mention genuine misunderstandings of intent in some cases. Is ‘coffee and chat in my room’ a metaphor for “sexytime”, or is it just coffee and a chat in his room?

Note to Skepchick:  You’re a highly attractive and intelligent female.  You’re in a BAR at four a.m. with a bunch of guys drunk on spirits and inspired by your smile.  I’d be worried about the state of humanity if nobody took notice of you.  Also, you’re gonna get plenty of “HATE” mail for being an atheist by religious people posing as skeptics.  You’ll also get hate mail just because some people have nothing better to do.  Not proof of anything except perhaps that the misogynist community is just as good at pharyngulating open public opening forums/polls as PZ often is.

About the social awkwardness. I’m willing to go out on a limb and posit that the geekier and smarter guys you women will come across at these events are much more likely to be socially and sexually immature, if only because they committed so much of their time to the more solitary pursuit of knowledge instead of booty. Think about it. Cut them some slack ferchrissakes.

If you girls truly feel at risk riding elevators, here or abroad, then by all means take appropriate measures to protect yourselves. Go in groups. Ask a guy you don’t think is a goober to walk you to your room. Carry a roll of quarters in one hand and a sharp pencil in the other. Be prepared to gouge and whack if need be. In other words, MAN UP.

Enjoy.

153 thoughts on “Skepchick Blues

  1. Pingback: Skepchick Blues :: Girls N girls

  2. That is truly awful advice.

    The slack that was given to this guy, and all ‘socially awkward’ guys, was a polite ‘it’s creepy if you solicit a lone female in a lift.’ Not that I thought it would need saying, apparently it does.

    And seriously, ‘man up’? What a brilliant feminist sentiment there. ‘You ladies would all be okay only if you, you know, started acting like REAL MEN, and did the better MANLY thing.’ Fantastic.

    • The “man up” was tongue in cheek agent provocateur stuff. Whatever happened in that elevator should have been handled in that elevator. Not a post event video. Do you take exception to my observation that most of these guys are social misfits by nature? Because that’s what is at the root of the problem IMHO. I’m starting to wonder if the same is true for the geek girls as well.
      Enjoy.

      • Yes, geek girls. STFU and don’t let anyone know you are uncomfortable. You are messing up the geek guys’ fantasy world where you always want them.

      • Or instead, you could just vent your frustration ON THE INDIVIDUAL that is pissing you off and leave the rest of us out of it. Yeah, that’s a thought.

      • Yeah, because if you’re already nervous about being on a lift with someone who is at best socially unaware, at worst a potential attacker, antagonising him is the best thing to do.

        If this guy is just a socially awkward male, and he hasn’t yet picked up the hint this behaviour is creepy, the polite comment Rebecca made is the kind of thing he needs to understand.

  3. I’ll admit to being confused by the enormous hubbub raised by this incident. While I understand that no girl likes to be propositioned late at night while alone in an elevator… that is all that happened. Maybe the guy was clueless, maybe he was a little drunk. Fact is: he said something she didn’t like and now she’s complaining about it like he grabbed her ass.

    Call me a macho asshole if you will, but that is some thin-skinned bullshit if she actually felt offended by that. Did she not experience high school? Or does she just like being outraged by the mundane?

    Guess what? There are people roaming the streets who are dicks. If the worst Skepchic encountered that day was some guy hitting on her (coherently & in a straightforward manner at that!), she is an incredibly fortunate individual.

    Also: men aren’t the only ass-grabbers. You don’t need a penis to be obnoxiously bold towards the opposite sex.

    • Just because you asked…

      You’re a macho asshole.

      The point is… Even if it happens, even if we can’t reasonably expect to stop it, it doesn’t make it okay. So don’t do it, and share the message with your friends.

      Also, calm down and pull the testosterone wedgie out of your crack.

      • Does blind deference to the silliest of women’s complaints help you with the ladies? Do you feel better after swearing at me? I’m too old for testosterone to be of much significance. Calm down and quit reading a bunch of shit into my posts that isn’t there. There’s plenty to take issue with in the content of my posts without fantasizing all manner of bullshit into them. I never said it was ok to harass women, but we differ on what constitutes harassment. How did I manage to impart that information to you without calling you a pig faced ignorant fuckhead? It wasn’t easy I can tell you that.

      • “I never said it was OK, just unavoidable. Reading is fundamental.”
        I was responding to Phil. I do know what response button to push. This differs in that there was no additional response button available. I was responding to this:
        “Call me a macho asshole if you will, but that is some thin-skinned bullshit if she actually felt offended by that. Did she not experience high school? Or does she just like being outraged by the mundane?”

        “Does blind deference to the silliest of women’s complaints help you with the ladies? Do you feel better after swearing at me? I’m too old for testosterone to be of much significance. Calm down and quit reading a bunch of shit into my posts that isn’t there. There’s plenty to take issue with in the content of my posts without fantasizing all manner of bullshit into them. I never said it was ok to harass women, but we differ on what constitutes harassment. How did I manage to impart that information to you without calling you a pig faced ignorant fuckhead? It wasn’t easy I can tell you that.”

        I did not happen to swear at you. Nor did I call you a name. Or really even Phil except by invitation: “Call me a macho asshole if you will…”

        I also never accused you of actively condoning harassment.

        I did however point out, repeatedly, that Skepchick did have reason for concern. Had advice for men who didn’t want to appear to be creeps. That her comments were not vilification of men or an accusation of rape. And that I clearly find the “She’s whining” and “what happens in_ stays in_” a method of dismissing and thereby silencing her. Effectively saying that no one needed to hear this, or take any notice.

        Clearly we don’t agree on whether what happened was worthy of comment, even as a casual anecdote, which it was in the video. And I never termed what happened as harassment. But what I am upset about isn’t what he did. Its the massive offense that has been taken based on that you yourself called a topic which did not “…merit two tugs of a dead dogs cock.” I don’t see why RD was moved to publicly dismiss it.

        And here’s why:
        If it was your daughter, sister, wife mother, etc. And it was 4am. And a man whom she’s never met hops into an elevator with her alone.Then after leaving a bar (which serves coffee) to go to his room for coffee. Would you feel NO anxiety on their part? For them? At all? Remember you don’t know him either. And before you lap to the end and say “but nothing happened”. How can anyone know at the time that nothing would happen. And then tell me there was no threat there.

        Still not convinced? Visit a police website and look for information about getting into an elevator with a man alone late at night.

        It WAS worth a comment. It was an anecdote. Ironic in that it followed on the heels of trying to educate men in atheism on how to make atheism more welcoming to women. Not an indictment. Not an accusation.

        Funny though, you seem to feel intensely accused.

  4. I think this is spot on!! I totally agree with everything here. This is something that should be a non-issue! If everyone screamed SEX each time a man asked to go for coffee we’d all be doing nothing else. Yes, the elevator was probably not the best place, but give the guy some slack. He was probably socially awkward as you said. This whole debacle is now distracting people from way more important issues. And not only that it insinuates that we women are some how such delicate flowers that we cannot handle ourselves. Gimme a break! If someone is that paranoid, they need to figure out ways to protect themselves from the evil coffee asking men. This whole thing pisses me off to no end. We are insinuating that men cannot keep it in their pants. That is totally sexist and wrong! She is playing the victim very well, but I’m not biting. I have been in way worse situations, and I do not go around lumping all men into one group because of it. The majority of men are decent and deserve a lot more credit. And Skepchick is only doing women a disservice by acting like a helpless whiny woman. I am so fed-up with this, and not only is she embarrassing to women, but she is also deterring women from the Atheist community. She should be embarassed and ashamed!

  5. The problem here was that she was alone in an elevator with a physically threatening man who just sexually propositioned her. The problem is that this guy (and a buttload of other sceptic guys) was somehow completely oblivious to the fact that he was threatening her by his actions. The problem is that this sort of behaviour is EXACTLY what should be avoided by a community trying to be more welcoming to women.

    The problem is that because of your cozy, cozy privelage, you think it is completely acceptable to expect women to alter (and often limit) their habits so that the people who harrass them don’t have to.

    The problem is that many men often don’t understand any of this because they have never had to feel threatened by sexual propositions. They were never catcalled or leered at by a group of men alone in the dark. They don’t have to inform a friend before going on a date and right afterwards, just to be sure that they were safe.

    They don’t have a 1 in 6 chance of being raped or ( in South Africa ) a one in four chance of being raped.
    The problem is that we HAVE to regard creepy guys in an elevator at 4AM as potential rapists. We don’t have the privelage of not doing so.

    • The problem is that because of your cozy, cozy privelage, you think it is completely acceptable to expect women to alter (and often limit) their habits so that the people who harrass them don’t have to.

      You are completely unaware of my ‘cozy’ privilege’. What I think really doesn’t matter. The question to ask is “What is the reality of the situation for many women?” I wish they didn’t have to deal with a bunch of jerkwad guys, but they do and they will continue to have to NO MATTER WHAT I DO OR THINK.

      • Okay, the fact that you think that is “the question to ask” indicates that you are completely, 100% missing the point. No matter what inconsiderate behavior we are talking about, there will always be people who will continue to do it, no matter how many times it is pointed out to them that they are being jerks. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s inconsiderate, and that anybody who actually cares about other people would want to know what these behaviors are in order to avoid them. What part of this is hard for you to understand?

      • So in other words, women are going to get harrassed no matter what, so we should just shut up about it? We should just sit back and do nothing?

        She felt threatened and informed a male dominated community that doing this was not a bright idea. She did not start a war on men,she just said that women’s concerns for safety,and here’s a wild idea, their actual feelings should be taken into consideration by a community trying to find more femal members.

        Do you lack basic empathy? Is it just a matter of, “I didn’t harass anyone, it isn’t MY responsibility as a decent human being so she should just stfu because her feelings or the feelings of sceptical women don’t matter.”

        The reality of the situation for many women IS THIS. We get harassed, we dare want to change the fact and then we get told our concerns don’t matter. We are told how not to get harassed/raped, but harassers are seldom told how not to harass or rape.

    • Mish: “she was alone in an elevator with a physically threatening man who just sexually propositioned her”

      That’s quite a leap you made there! You might want to stretch that one out…

      What Watson actually said was that a man got into the elevator and said “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting and would like to talk more. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee”.

      Approaching a lone woman in an elevator at 4am was a spectacular lapse in judgement, no argument on that one, but I think it’s a stretch to say the man was physically threatening (Watson offered no physical description) and whilst I daresay that there was an implication behind ‘coffee’, I’m not sure it merits being considered a sexual proposition…

      “We” don’t have to regard (allegedly) creepy guys in an elevator at 4am as potential rapists. Some of us may with to regard them as fellow hotel guests who just sat in the same bar, possibly in my company, until 4am. It is really pissing me off, that this lack of privilege is being claimed on my behalf repeatedly.

      • I contend that the man in question doesn’t have to be particularly physically threatening. Also, I can agree that we do not fully know his intentions. However I do think that coffee, in his room, at 4am, is not a proposal that reeks of intellectual interest in a Socratic dialogue. That laid aside. Lets address the options.

        You (the “We” you mentioned) don’t have to do anything. As it happens in real life, what one thinks, does and how one assess situations is very much one’s own business individual to individual. So no you don’t HAVE to feel threatened. You knew this already. It was your point. But, and this is important, some do. At what I think of as not much of a stretch, many do. And for that reason, and to allow for everyone to have all the options available, it is requested (by a man, in this specific instance, as before by Ms Watson) that the menfolk activate their brains and not commit that particular “spectacular lapse in judgement”.

        In your quote you see he said “Don’t take this the wrong way, but…”. He knew it could look bad. He did it anyway. And in fairness, just as we today don’t know his intentions she (Ms. Watson) then did not know his intentions. And while one could “regard them as fellow hotel guest” that’s your option. Just as not everyone needs to see a potential threat, not everyone needs to see safety. Not everyone will. We shouldn’t let hindsight sanitize the possibilities of the moment.

        As to privilege… I can’t do better justice to explaining it than this: https://sindeloke.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/37/
        And I don’t know what precisely you believe you are being denied, unless it is the right to not feel threatened in that elevator. I certainly, and Ms. Watson weren’t looking to deny anyone anything. It was a consciousness raising moment. A “hey, lets not do this” moment. Hyperbole after the fact has turned it into an issue. This is where (male) privilege really comes in. In that a woman is “telling” men they should think about or do something they aren’t already doing. Hence the seeming Armageddon that’s followed.

        Just as with Ms. McGraw, men will support you resoundingly because it means they were right to feel insulted, and that they can go back to not thinking about what they’re doing, and how it may be affecting those about them.

        Wording will vary. Hyperbole will vary. People are upset on both sides. But really this is, at its root, about a suggestion on how not to be a jerk, and how no woman should ever suggest such a thing to a man.

      • @Godfrey Temple.

        I don’t really disagree with much of what you’re saying. In a way, you’re actually making the same point, but from a different angle. My point *is* that not everyone reacts the same way, and not everyone sees the potential threat. I wouldn’t for a second suggest that Watson was wrong to feel how she did, it was her experience and her right. However, on every blog that talks about this episode there invariably ends up being comments from women shouting about how this is a way of life, with the implication that we have no choice but to view all men as potential rapists.

        I don’t feel that either yourself or Ms Watson are denying me anything. I feel that all the comments I see, or the blog posts, where woman angrily list all the ways in which we are being constantly sexually oppressed or threatened or whatever, to some extent deny me the option to say “actually, hang on, don’t speak for all of us here”, without it being viewed as a betrayal of the sisterhood. There’s an implication that women who dare to disagree are obviously only doing it to get male attention (http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/because_of_the_implication), and whilst not laying it out as specifically as in that link, this is a growing attitude. Yet all of the women I’m friends with, feel that they’d fit more in the middle ground. Yes, we DO face harrassment and/or discrimination based on our gender, but nowhere *near* as constantly as the women who write the angry blogs or comments seem to, but none of us actually say so in response online, because we are immediately seen as sleeping with the enemy and letting the side down.

        In exactly the same way that those women feel that they are being told that their feelings don’t matter when men dismiss them, they do the very same to the women who disagree with them. In exactly the same way that women are shouting about being constantly sexually harrassed, or discriminated against, they exercise a form of discrimination themselves by viewing all men as potential threats based on their gender.

        The elevator incident itself has grown legs to the extent where the guy is being described as “physically threatening” when the only people who can corroborate that fact are Watson and the guy, (and maybe security folk watching the cameras in the hotel). Watson dealt with the episode in a way that felt appropriate to her. I have no issue with that, I take issue with how it’s being blown out of all context. Where it’s become a man cornering her in an elevator, and/or being physically threatening, and/or creepy. It’s good that this episode has us all talking about appropriate conduct, but is it really necessary to embellish the original situation to do so? Are our arguments about sexism that insubstantial that we have to make this anonymous guy a knife-wielding bogeyman in order to make our point? Do we really need to be facing exploitation every waking second before we feel we have the authority to challenge sexism?

        I’m not sure I’m making my point properly, and I’m rambling, but I didn’t view either yourself or Watson as the ones denying me anything, so apologies if that is how my earlier comment came across.

      • There’s an implication that women who dare to disagree are obviously only doing it to get male attention (http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/because_of_the_implication)

        Even though the two of us seem to be singing out of the same hymnal, I must point out something about your analysis of the Pandagon link. If it’s referring to a video of a TV show with two guys talking, I think “the implication” has a different connotation than the one you think it does (as highlighted in the block quote). “The Implication” I saw left me to conclude that some men attempt to put women in threatening situations, implying they might be in a potential rape environment, hoping ‘the implication’ will lead them to submission without force (which we’re assured in the video clip of the males talking would never actually take place…cause they’re nice guys).

      • @fragglechick;

        No arguments there. It wasn’t a huge thing. It should never have become the large distorted monster it is. The story, as often happens, has mutated in the retelling – perhaps in both directions depending on the source.

        I keep coming back to basics. She (Ms. Watson) felt uncomfortable, and in the context in which it happened it merited sharing. I’m glad she did, as it illustrates the sort of things that keep some women away from atheist/skeptic conventions. It was a prime example, and happened AT just such a gathering. QED, one would think. Also, it’s just good advice to “not do that”.

        No matter what your method of coping with such a situation it remains good advice for men not do do that. To be more aware and sensitive is a good thing. Because…from a male point of view…you don’t and can’t know how the woman in the elevator at 4am is going to view you. You may be inoffensive and it’s all good. You also may be scaring her to death. So I think it’s good policy to asses the situation and do the thing which would work best for all parties. In this case, a woman who was going to be OK is just as OK with me off the elevator as on, and one who might have been worried now isn’t. How very J.S. Mill of me, I know.

        So While I don’t think we’re in disagreement on the nature of the incident or the horrors that have blossomed in its wake, I DO feel that this is a good moment for the menfolk to learn something. Which is why I’m in here being intractable.

  6. “Note to Skepchick: You’re a highly attractive and intelligent female. You’re in a BAR at four a.m. with a bunch of guys drunk on spirits and inspired by your smile. I’d be worried about the state of humanity if nobody took notice of you.”

    This is a caricature of what actually happened and is a prime example of what PZ pointed out, that people aren’t listening to women.

    This also stinks of the poor argument that it is a woman’s fault for being attractive.

    • It’s not her ‘fault’ she’s attractive. It’s a fact, like evolution. It might make her as nervous as a creationist at an biology convention to consider that, but it’s the truth. In most western societies, this will result in more attention from the male of the species. Some of that attention will be ill-timed and inappropriate, Even if she spends the rest of her days railing on the evils of idiot men, idiot men are still gonna be idiot men. Don’t blame me for human nature, nor for pointing it out. I didn’t invent the shit, I’m just reporting on it.

      I’m not arguing that pretty girls deserve to be hassled BTW. The level of reading comprehension by some of those attacking me is AWESOME.
      Enjoy.

      • reading comprehension 2: if you are not arguing that girls deserve to be hassled, then why are you arguing against a girl asking not to be hassled?

        is what you are saying: “girls should not be hassled but they cannot ask to not be hassled. they must silently sit by while each man decides on his own merit whether or not to hassle them. any expression by the girls of their wishes in this situation is not allowed because it angers the men.” is that what you are saying? because…that is what you are saying.

      • Pretty much.

        He has yet to mount a reasoned defense of anything he’s said. It all comes down to “my wife says it’s ok” for him, apparently.

  7. Okay, just to recap:
    Some Dude, intentionally or not, did something that made Skepchick uncomfortable.
    Skepchick then says, to a larger group of people, “Here’s what Some Dude did. It made me uncomfortable, and would probably make a lot of other people uncomfortable too. If you don’t like making people uncomfortable, you should avoid doing that.”

    A reasonable person would probably respond, “Oh okay, I hadn’t thought of that, thanks.” Instead, your response is, “Why are you uncomfortable? Don’t be uncomfortable! Carry a roll of quarters! Cut us some slack, social ineptitude is the price we pay for intellectual excellence!*” Can you explain why on earth this is the case? Why are you incapable of hearing “thing X makes me uncomfortable and I would prefer that you not do it” without leaping into a defensive tirade?

    *By the way, having known many people who manage to simultaneously possess social and intellectual skills, I can tell you that the inverse correlation you are proposing does not really exist. It’s a lie promoted by the socially inept in order to make themselves feel better about their weaknesses. Having low social intelligence doesn’t make one a bad person (just like there’s nothing wrong with being bad at math) but don’t pretend it’s somehow the source of other abilities. It’s just like any other deficit.

      • Are you going to respond to anything that I actually said? Why are you taking a situation that is a simple matter of:

        Behavior X makes a large number of people uncomfortable, for whatever reason. Therefore, anyone who doesn’t want to make people uncomfortable should avoid behavior X.

        and turning it into some convoluted argument about victims and human nature? I mean you’re basically saying that since there will always be inconsiderate people in the world, we should just shut up and never express even the slightest opinion about how we would actually like to be treated. Can you please explain where this is all coming from?

      • listen, you dumb asshole, i am here to tell you that a roll of quarters, or carrying your keys through your fingers, does nothing to stop a rapist.

        this is like saying that instead of outlawing murder and making it socially clear that murder is not accepted by the community, the onus is on anyone who doesn’t want to be murdered to wear a full suit of armor 24/7 and carry a shield and weapon. and let’s pretend there’s a 25% murder rate.

        you will just do anything possible to not have to alter your behavior in any way, won’t you? you are just that convinced of your own superiority, that you’re cool with arguing that a group of people should be made to feel uncomfortable and arm themselves because MEN CAN’T LISTEN FOR FIVE SECONDS ABOUT WHAT MAKES A WOMAN UNEASY?

      • I have two sets of two word examples to assuage your fears, should you believe a roll of quarters and a spirited demeanor might not be enough to protect you. Make your choice and form a solid commitment to one or both. Firearm permit or pit bull. And for the sake of all that is good, please don’t ever think you could rely on any man to do a better job protecting you than either of those. We can both agree on that I bet.
        Enjoy.

      • Staunchly refusing to listen or engage in a reasoned discussion does not make you correct. When faced with an impassioned disputant, answer the points made and provide counter evidence.

        Responding in kind with more impassioned and charged language solves nothing, and in extremis, is the last resort of the person without an argument to make.

  8. Ooops, you missed the point. That is only part of what the argument is about. No one thinks the event in the elevator was that big a deal, including Rebecca. But it was something, and something she chose to talk about as part of a broader discussion. Then, she was told to shut up (more or less) and THAT it turns out is the somewhat bigger issue.

    About the social awkwardness. I’m willing to go out on a limb and posit that the geekier and smarter guys you women will come across at these events are much more likely to be socially and sexually immature, if only because they committed so much of their time to the more solitary pursuit of knowledge instead of booty.

    That’s funny. So you are saying that knowledge and stuff does not include basic man-feminism, the stuff all men should learn to not be oafs, and that pursuing booty is how you learn to respect women.

    Which means, if I read just a tiny bit between the lines that you may be thinking that the trick is to make chicks think you are not a dick, rather than actually not being a dick.

    • Which means, if I read just a tiny bit between the lines that you may be thinking that the trick is to make chicks think you are not a dick, rather than actually not being a dick.

      If you want to read between the lines you can fill in anything you want. I just think it’s much ado about nothing, as does Richard Dawkins. I don’t usually have someone of such high calibre on my side of an issue, whether I’m right or wrong, so I feel ok about my stance on this one.

      • But see, you are the one that is making a lot out of nothing, and that’s telling. I can’t imagine this degree of opposition arising if the discussion were not gender-related. Suppose somebody said, “many people find it insulting when others take phone calls during dinner dates. Therefore, if you do not want to insult anyone, you should avoid taking phone calls during dinner dates.” Do you think any reasonable person would object to that as tenaciously as you are objecting in this case? It’s not like people are running around punching their dinner companions with their cellphones, after all. And while it might be nice to live in a world where everyone observed proper cellphone etiquette, in reality that would never happen, so people who dislike obnoxious phone users have a responsibility to get themselves a pair of earplugs, or maybe get on the phone themselves to get even. At any rate, it is completely uncalled for to broadly vilify all cellphone users just because some people are overly sensitive about dinnertime cellphone use.

        Do you see how this is a completely unreasonable response? And do you see how this scenario is analogous?

      • Is there a reason that you are finding it difficult to actually respond to what I’m saying? The way this usually works is you say something, I say “you’re wrong, and here’s why,” then you say, “here’s what you haven’t considered,” and so forth. Or you can say, “oh, you’re right, I hadn’t thought of that.” Sometimes everybody involved learns something new and interesting. You know, discussion. Your terse, beside the point responses just make it look like you have nothing.

  9. I think that until you you can adopt attitudes toward women that don’t involve blaming them for how uncomfortable they feel when you insist on imposing yourself onto their consciousness you should probably just write about lolcats or action figures. You cannot seriously think of yourself as an adult with the attitude that women should have to field every proposition with equanimity simply on the basis that it would unthinkable for a man to keep his damn ignorant opinion to himself. Where did you learn that it is a woman’s responsibility to even acknowledge that somebody finds them interesting in any way. Is that what this is really about? Is the fact that men have to actually attract a woman’s notice by means other than cornering them that has you so riled??? Does the realization that some women want to be left alone until they decide they want to interact with potential partners scare you????

    • Try to calm down and be rational about this. There is such a thing as human nature and you are not going to change it no matter how much you try. In this particular instance I think Rebecca was a little too harsh. Not saying she doesn’t have the right to say what she says. I have the right to disagree and so does Richard Dawkins. Guys are gonna make advances. That’s how it works. The nature and timing of those won’t always correspond with the intended audience. He asked. She rejected. He left. That’s how it works. Of course his approach is lame at best and creepy at worst. Still, no harm, no foul.

      • i didn’t find anything the original commenter said to be irrational. could you please point out, using your magnificent brain, what she said that was in any way irrational? Note that “i don’t like it!” does not qualify as a signal of irrationality.

        “Of course his approach is lame at best and creepy at worst.” WHY IS IT OKAY FOR YOU TO SAY THIS AND NOT OKAY FOR REBECCA TO SAY THIS.

        “Still, no harm, no foul.” This time, Schrodinger’s Rapist.

    • I approve them as fast as I can. I don’t filter for anything other than spam, but I do have to approve all comments and I’ve other pursuits. Sorry for the inconvenience. It’s the price you pay to keep from getting inundated with junk. Perhaps I’ll try opening it up sometime, but I doubt it.

      • Totally understandable. The website I manage has basically the same filters because otherwise it’s just spam central. I was just getting impatient and started to think maybe my comments got eaten by the internet.

  10. The head-smacking aspect of this was that she had JUST GIVEN A TALK on how to make atheist gatherings more friendly to women. Then this happens. It was incredibly on-topic. And for the sake of argument, I have not seen the fellow in the elevator named or shamed or in any way attacked. However, as she said in her video…he clearly wasn’t paying attention.

    The point is, you thinking it is not or should not be an issue does not mean it is not to people who aren’t you. You’re not them. You cannot look out through their eyes and say “oh that’s fine”. You just can’t. So don’t.

    You, and those agreeing with you, are really really not helping.

    • Yeah, about that talk about feminist Atheism. She mentions it in her video. I presume it happened somewhat earlier in the day, but I don’t presume that all those guys sitting at the bar with her til 4 a.m. were in attendance. My only ‘argument’ is that she’s complaining about HUMAN NATURE.

      • If that is the whole of your argument… Would you have made the same point had it been a white man calling a black man “Boy” conversationally in an elevator? That’s okay? No harm no foul? Or an obvious neo-nazi skinhead just standing there grinning at any person of obvious Jewish background? Also peachy?

        Because I don’t think you can honestly say you believe that the people in those elevators would have felt nothing. And I wonder if you think what they feel is really less important than what a woman feels when placed in a position of discomfort.

        I can’t say whether the fellow in the elevator was there at the talk or not. The point is… It was definitely on _her_ mind. and then served as food for a real-world example. a “teachable moment”, whatever you want to call it. It was not a unilateral attack on men. It was a piece of advice for those men out there who would some day like to NOT be seen as creepy. Helpful, I would think.

        Is the world full of idiots? Yes.
        Should that be okay?
        Or should we all be striving not to be that idiot? Striving to help others not be that idiot? On the principle that less idiocy is good?

        I’m striving to not be that idiot.
        Consider your options.

      • You still don’t get it? I’m not sure how many ways people can explain this to you. It’s starting to look like your mind immediately translates “woman talking” to “woman complaining,” and you are incapable of comprehending that anything else might be going on here. Next you’ll say that your only beef with her is that her tone of voice is too naggy.

      • Sorry about this, I just had to add:
        “My only ‘argument’ is that she’s complaining about HUMAN NATURE.”

        I know you probably aren’t going to respond to this analogy any more than you did the other one, but maybe it will be illustrative. Six months ago my apartment was broken into. I complained to anyone who would listen. Not once did anyone reply, “you’re just complaining about human nature,” or “people will always break into homes and steal things,” or “why don’t you vent your frustration on the person who actually broke into your apartment and leave me out of it.” Would you have? I hope you will really think about this, and maybe then you will also see this very special indignation that is reserved for cases where a woman dares complain (or in this case, just talk) about what our society considers typical male behavior. Maybe you too will wonder why it is that such cases merit this special attention, and if it isn’t, MAYBE, evidence of the very misogyny that Skepchick was talking about in the first place.

  11. You win an award for not getting it, really.

    Great thought there, superman. Why exhibit a little decency, when instead, a woman can go at great length to make sure even a guy with no shame and decency whatsoever cannot make her feel uncomfortable?

      • Nobody is asking you to comfort her. You still don’t get it. Maybe you should try considering that you are missing a large part of the issue, instead of just stubbornly sticking with what you’ve decided is going on. I’m guessing you will find that a more productive approach.

      • There’s not a lot that can be missed. She gets upset a guy makes a pass at her and goes off on a rant in her video about it. Anything else is searching for deeper meaning in shallow water.

      • Seconded. Nobody asked you, or anyone else for comfort.

        The basic message is “Don’t be that guy” that guy got it wrong.

        End of message. End of pile.

      • “There’s not a lot that can be missed. She gets upset a guy makes a pass at her and goes off on a rant in her video about it. Anything else is searching for deeper meaning in shallow water.”

        I would have thought that this was true, but you are the one who has completely missed the obvious meaning of the video (“FYI, don’t do this obnoxious thing if you don’t want to be obnoxious”) and instead are griping about imagined attacks and demands to be comforted (or something? I’m not really sure where you got that one).

  12. Thanks for your rational take. After posting in three different blog posts and facing the wrath of PZs army (and the threat of the banhammer from the man himself), I was beginning to think I was the only person who was in agreement with Mr. Dawkins. There are a lot of women out there with a lot of issues that love piggybacking on a perceived slight. That man in the elevator became everything that’s wrong with the men in the skeptical movement. I would hate to be that man.

    It really felt like I was arguing against conspiracy theorists in those blog comments. Anyone who didn’t agree with their stance was part of the conspiracy to keep women quiet and subservient–even a female rape survivor was labeled a shill. The arguments were just repeated over and over–abusing privilege, accusations of men’s right activism, men’s cluelessness. And he goes on again! His feed linked to the blog I found your comment in and the link to this blog. Is she really saying that the only women that disagree with the feminist’s stance are the ones that want men’s attention? Is that really feminism?

    Richard made the point that there are bigger atrocities committed against woman, and like a good episode of the Daily Show, it really put it in perspective. Then the ad homs on Dawkins started–not rational discourse, but all out attacks on his character. You would think he just posted a pro-vaccine tract on Age of Autism. A lot of people were accusing him of making the “things are worse elsewhere, so stop whining” argument.

    The double-standard didn’t escape me. Every time female mutilation comes up on that blog, there’s the men that have to bring up circumcision (unnecessarily, but not the point), and the women and allies that tell them to shut up and stop whining.

    I came home today, saw the 8 new posts on my Pharyngula feed, 3 of which were “screw you misogynistic skeptics and atheists!!oneone11!” and decided to get rid of the blog. There are a ton of other blogs that give the same information without the baggage.

    Sorry, that was a real long comment, the tl;dr version–thanks for posting your view of the episode!

    • Yeah, and I’m mired deep enough in this shit I actually looked at Rebecca (skepchick) wiki.
      She just divorced her husband. Think her attitude on men might be a bit skewed as a result of that, or is it off limits to even discuss how tragic personal consequences of a person’s life might logically color their opinions on matters of same? At the end of the day, both PZ and RD and Skepchick are all folks I admire and respect. Just because I disagree, I try not to be too disagreeable. There’s always a bit of satire and devil’s advocacy thrown in to the mix.

      • So now Rebecca can’t make a salient point, related to a man behaving badly right after giving a talk on things that make women not want to come out and hang with other atheists because of them behaving badly, if she’s recently had any sort of problem in the recent past involving a man?

        At no point did she attack anyone. Or accuse anyone of axe-wielding misogyny. Her aim was to let people know what’s keeping women away from public atheism meet-ups. Because, perhaps misguidedly, she thought maybe people cared.

        To see a rising wave of “What’s her problem” only serves to prove there is a problem.

    • That’s nonsensical.

      It’s like saying “Sure there were a pile of Christians with shotguns waiting in the alley after the atheist meetup, but they didn’t shoot anyone. No harm no foul.” And then saying. “Worse things happen to people all the time, it’s not like someone firebombed the place”.

      Worse things happening do not make everything less dramatic OK. Which is why we prosecute harassment as well as assault as crimes.

      Also I’d like to echo Mr. Laden in congratulating Tim for seizing upon a failure of an esteemed man to make your own attitudes excusable.

      • It’s a contrast of scale. Perceived threat vs. actual rape, unfired shotguns vs. detonated firebomb. I scaled up, but the principle is sound. There’s the possibility of disaster and then the worst disaster possible. That the worst didn’t happen in the case before us does not make what did happen acceptable or desirable.

      • It’s a matter of scale. We agree on that. On my scale it doesn’t merit two tugs of a dead dogs cock. On yours it’s an affront to women everywhere.

      • Honestly, that it would place 50% of women in a frightened space should be enough. But affront is your term here, not mine.

  13. If she felt disgusted or threatened in the elevator with this Casanova, fine. Personally, I take offense to her (publicly) indicting the entirety of the male gender based on the actions of one douche bag.
    Women have real threats to deal with in life. Things like spousal abuse, genital mutilation, professional glass ceilings, arranged marriage, and (actual) rape make her complaints about the elevator guy look pretty insignificant. I’m with Richard, too. He has demonstrated that he’s the kind of guy who can uphold women’s rights without p(z)andering. That’s something any strong, intelligent woman should appreciate.

    • Skepchick mentions that her video is unscripted, as she’s making it. I’d suggest a script next time. Keep the topic on skepticism or atheism if that’s not asking too much. I am already a member of Pandagon. I go THERE when I want to read up on the current female angst. I actually support reasonable things that might help the feminist cause. Like releasing non-violent drug users from jail to make room for more rapists and am in total support of longer sentences for same.

      • So don’t discuss what makes women uncomfortable unless someone’s actually been raped? Get a script and stay on topic or don’t post? Do you only post to a script and on specific topics? Are you really suggesting personal censorship because a bunch of guys got their jockstraps in a twist?

      • The travesty being done here, both to the detriment of the skeptical crowd as well as the more reasonable feminists, is trying to stretch any comparison to what Skepchick relates in her video to the subject of rape.

      • I haven’t said it was rape. But everyone seems to be saying “nothing happened, no harm no foul” which is thinly veiled “you didn’t get raped, stop complaining”.

        Isn’t it?

        How is it not?

    • At what point was the entire male gender attacked? Did I miss a thread somewhere?
      The reason women feel a palpable threat (and this was the point) in a isolated space with a male stranger is BECAUSE of some of the things you just listed. She couldn’t know that he would or would not have done.

      And I’m repeating myself now… Then she tells people on her blog “don’t do that”. It’s excellent advice. She was honest about how it made her feel, she didn’t vilify the male gender. If you think she did you’re picking up the dissonant screeches of men who were subsequently offended because they think they should never ever have to think about what they’re doing and what it looks like.

      • “she didn’t vilify the male gender. If you think she did you’re picking up the dissonant screeches of men who were subsequently offended because they think they should never ever have to think about what they’re doing and what it looks like.”

        Precisely this. The funny thing is, they have basically decided that because they FEEL vilified, she must have been vilifying them (even though they can’t point out where) but then on the other hand, when a woman tells them that she feels uncomfortable, they don’t for a second consider that it wasn’t all in her head. I think somebody’s projecting.

      • It looks like a case of “shut up, and next time don’t open your mouth to begin with” to me.

        I have not until this particular drama occurred ever completely witnessed and recognized men actively trying to silence women. I thought ‘that doesn’t happen, or at least not among educated people’…

        And it’s so strong an pervasive that now people think PZ has tarnished himself. And it’s not so. She spoke to be heard and nothing more. From Dawkins on down, it seems peole just don’t want to hear it.

      • What the hell are you talking about? Nobody is silencing anybody. FWIW, I doubt you could silence Skepchick even if you wanted to. We hear her. We just don’t all agree with her on this issue. I’m pretty sure that she and I are are probably in agreement on 99 percent of the skeptical and atheist opinions she espouses. I would have ignored the whole thing if not for the unreasonable piling on towards Richard Dawkins that he was getting for his lack of proper deference to Skepchick’s complaints. Some of the folks commenting here are so over the top it’s ridiculous. Did I miss a memo that requires the skeptical community to embrace the worst of sophist rhetorical tactics? Those we normally associate with the religious creotards e.g.

      • “Did I miss a memo that requires the skeptical community to embrace the worst of sophist rhetorical tactics?”

        It’s interesting to me that you have found so many faults with our arguments, and yet you haven’t pointed any of them out specifically. In fact, you haven’t even defended your own poor reasoning! Maybe you should wait until you have actually presented a cogent argument before you start flinging insults and patting yourself on the back. I know you think that if you insult us like this you’ll look like the victor without having to actually defend your bad logic, but unfortunately that will likely only work on people who are desperate to agree with you against all reason.

      • You missed no thread. You missed the video where she says “Just a word to the wise, here, guys…don’t do that.”
        How many guys were on the elevator? One. Why then was it “guyS”?
        On a separate point, there’s an awful lot of talk going around about RD’s status as a privileged white male. It’s going beyond that, actually, and coming awfully close to character assassination. He disagreed (as I do) with RB’s handling of this issue, but that shouldn’t warrant the ad hominems I’m reading lately.

      • I don’t remember personally attacking anyone. And I think no ad hominem was contained in the initial video. That all came later.

        She addressed to guyS, because this is predominantly a guy thing. Isolating the girl you want to pick up is actually a touted tactic in advice on how to pick up girls because when a person feels threatened and isolated they’re more likely to agree to things to avoid trouble.

        Is this JUST men? Likely not. Generalizations are dangerous. However, when you do a search on elevator assault (and yes you’ll get plenty of hits) you won’t find many alleged or convicted female perpetrators.

        As to RD’s status as a “privileged white male”…
        Yes he is. So am I. We have the privilege of getting on an elevator at 4am and not thinking about possibly getting assaulted, for a start. Privilege isn’t that we’re entitled to special treatment, it’s that we’re just culturally used to it. And when people point it out (as happened here in that video), we often find it hard to see the issue. If you think it doesn’t exist… Ask a black man trying to get a cab. Ask a woman trying to go one night in a bar without being groped. Ask a native Texan of latin ancestry coming home from vacation in Mexico at the border. Oh its there.

        Richard and I, at least, aren’t reminded of it so much. It doesn’t stand out to us. Doesn’t hit us in the face. Maybe thats you too?

      • Okay, wait, “Just a word to the wise, here, guys…don’t do that” is an attack? WHAT? Who’s being thin-skinned now?

        It’s guyS because guyS are the people who are in a position to do that very thing, and so it makes sense to direct this request at them as a group. If a store owner puts up a sign that says, “customers: please do not use cell phones while waiting at the register,” is that an attack on all customers? It’s not like ALL customers are so clueless that they would do that to begin with, so clearly addressing the request at ALL customers is unfairly tarring and feathering blah blah blah?

        Can somebody PLEASE explain to me why this Skepchick situation is so completely different than any of these analogies I have presented?

  14. I gotta say: really disappointed by PZ. Its fine to shut down the comments if they’re getting excessive (and they were, the page was HUGE), but to shut it all down while telling those who disagree with you that they’re just plainly wrong?

    I’ve seen PZ be preachy before, but actually seeing him stuff his fingers in his ears & hum loudly to himself about his own righteousness is quite the sight. Hope he pulls his head out of his ass, or at least realizes where he’s stuck it.

    • Which is why I made this post on my website. I was too late to the party over at PZ’s site. Love PZ and RD. Think well of Skepchick too FWIW. PZ has every right to do as he pleases with his site, though I do sympathize with you on the ‘optics’ of it.

      I stayed out of it until the RD responses came to my attention and I realized he was right. Reading over at PZ, you’d think RD was the devil or something. Shameful.

      • I came to the party after Dawkins had responded, so I got to see a good chunk of opinions and posts on which to form an opinion. Only made one post on Pharyngula, but I think this may be a bit too much of an emotionally charged issue for some people to view and comment on it from a unbiased perspective. The general man-hating in a few posts blows my mind.

        And of course, this isn’t going to make me dislike PZ. It just makes me sad, like when you’re let down by someone you look up to. Amusingly enough, reminds me of Antony Weiner. Loved Weiner for Healthcare comments, very saddened by his blatant idiocy. Similarly, love PZ for pretty much everything he does, and now this black spot on an otherwise brilliant tapestry of excellence.

    • I think PZ’s attitude is biased because he spends so much time around clueless youth because of his college teaching gig. He gives good advice. Not knocking the effort, but noting that the effort is futile is not appreciated in the least. Then, there’s the insane escalation of intent lumped onto elevator guy, as if making an ill advised and awkward pass at a conference in a foreign land (What happens in…stays in…) were somehow equivalent to rape. It’s ridiculous nonsense. I thought there MUST be some merit to Skepchick’s complaint that I was missing. I brought my wife up to speed. Made her watch the Skepchick video (is my wife great or what?) Argued with my wife about it. I assumed this girl was a scientist. Somebody truly looking at a situation from a reasoned perspective. Wife said to me…”No way she is a scientist”. I said, “Well, I don’t know. I see her mentioned in the science blogs so much I assumed she must be!” My wife looks at me and says the girl reminds her of some hippy chick with a humanities degree who’s found a niche as the token female in a male dominated atheist/skeptic culture. I accused my wife of being harsh. This led to one of our infamous ‘bets’. I googled and found Skepchicks wiki. Worked her way through college as a magician. (explains the Randi connection) Got a communications degree. Argh. Claims occupation as freelance writer. I should know better than to bet with/against my wife. My wife is a lot more cruel than me, so I’ll spare you her analysis of the validity of Skepchick’s complaint.

      • And now… You have to have training and background in science to make a reasoned argument, apparently. At least if you’re a skeptic or atheist. Since when did learning of any sort, skill of any sort become invalid and worthless? Far be it from a writer, or indeed any other profession that does not perhaps at least involve the analysis of statistical data to have any opinions on anything whatsoever. Brilliant. I do hope everyone posting here has their advanced degree scanned and ready to post.

        No one accused him of rape. One woman said “guys, don’t do that, it’s creepy, and makes me and others uncomfortable”. And yet the indignation is mountainous.

        Is it really that important that no one say boo about being made uncomfy by a man… ever?

      • Because it’s not relevant, and I would like to know why you think it is. When we are having a conversation about how a man should behave when alone in an elevator with a strange woman at 4AM, and that man’s intent is by definition unknowable to this strange woman, in what way does said intent enter into the conversation at all?

  15. “What the hell are you talking about? Nobody is silencing anybody. FWIW, I doubt you could silence Skepchick even if you wanted to. We hear her. We just don’t all agree with her on this issue. I’m pretty sure that she and I are are probably in agreement on 99 percent of the skeptical and atheist opinions she espouses. I would have ignored the whole thing if not for the unreasonable piling on towards Richard Dawkins that he was getting for his lack of proper deference to Skepchick’s complaints. Some of the folks commenting here are so over the top it’s ridiculous. Did I miss a memo that requires the skeptical community to embrace the worst of sophist rhetorical tactics? Those we normally associate with the religious creotards e.g.”

    Dismissing her concerns as trivial is silencing. I didn’t mean to suggest anyone was trying to knock her off the net. But saying it’s meaningless and unworthy of comment is dismissive, and that is silencing.

    Dawkins has it wrong. It’s not genital mutilation, I’ll agree on that much. But it doesn’t have to end in an assault to be an issue worth mentioning. It just means that it’s clearly not an issue you have any visibility on.

    • Oh No! Think of all the Christians and Menz who have been silenced by having their concerns dismissed as trivial!

      Won’t you think of Scott Adams? What about Homeopaths?!?! HIDE YO’ CHILDREN HIDE YOUR MENZ BECAUSE THEY SILENCING EV’RYONE OUT HERE.

      HOLY SHIT WE’RE SILENCING EVERYONE BY NOT EVEN MAKING THEM SILENT. WE ARE GODS AMONG HUMANS!

      • It’s good that you’re here to confirm that being cornered at 4am in an elevator is trivial and unworthy of comment. Maybe it never happened to you. Maybe you carry a firearm everywhere you go. Maybe you know karate and a few other Japanese words.

        Everyone is not you.

        Under the 80/20 rule, if enough people are concerned when this happens then it is a legitimate concern. Enough assaults actually have occurred in this way that there are masses of “safety tips” telling women not to get into an elevator alone with a man he doesn’t know at all, let alone at 4am. You don’t get it, fine. But does it cost SO much to say to oneself. “Okay, next time I want to hit on someone I’ll do it in the bar with other people around and not when I have them isolated”? Is it really so much to ask just to TAKE IN that it’s a good idea not to be a creep?

        Bu oh no… Much better to say she’s whining. Better to say she’s accusing all men of being rapists. Better to dismiss it.

        While we’re at it…lets dismiss homeopathy and Christianity too. I mean what real harm are either of those doing?

    • “Dismissing her concerns as trivial is silencing. I didn’t mean to suggest anyone was trying to knock her off the net. But saying it’s meaningless and unworthy of comment is dismissive, and that is silencing.”

      Bollocks. She was hit on by a guy in an elevator. She said no & walked away. Nothing happened. So what exactly is the story? Guys like to get laid & can sometimes be a bit stupid about it?

      But no, its about what COULD HAVE HAPPENED! She could have been raped / murdered / immolated / strangled with piano wire / eaten by wolves / or sacrificed to the Old Ones. Any scenario can easily be imagined at 4am in an elevator.

      Seriously? The fact that so many in the skeptical community are screaming bloody murder over this is boggling my mind. What, do you want all guys to stop hitting on chicks after midnight because some girls may find it creepy? Grow up.

      • “What, do you want all guys to stop hitting on chicks after midnight because some girls may find it creepy?”

        Yes. Because it’s a bad idea. Because from a cynical point of view it’s chances for success are minimal. I wonder… Did you watch the original video? Do you understand what happened? Do you not get that before “Nothing happened” there was a heart-pounding set of minutes in which it couldn’t be known that was going to be the outcome (the individual level of panic may vary).

        And if you had watched the video and understood the issue, you and masses of others wouldn’t be White Knighting all up and down the net for RD’s sake, or for the sake of men’s right to be clueless. Because she never accused anyone, insulted anyone, or even identified the man in the elevator.

        She gave a talk at a panel about women in atheism, and why there aren’t more of them about. Later that night a giant, blinking, klaxon-blaring case in point of the reason WHY occurred to her personally. She shared this as a casual anecdote along with a pile of other news on her vlog. Someone took offense, for no justifiable reason I can see. And before you know it. A bit of advice fro men not wanting to LOOK LIKE your potential rapist for the evening has so many men and “right thinking” women in a twist it’s insane.

        So, yes.
        “Grow up”

        A fine idea. In fact it is really the point of the whole thing. And while we can’t possibly get ALL men to do so, one would think it’d be a piece of cake for an enlightened and educated pack of folk like atheists.

      • It is actually about what COULD HAVE HAPPENED. Gosh you people are dense. It doesn’t matter if the guy is an absolute prince, she has no way of knowing that, so it’s not about his intent, it’s about what COULD HAVE HAPPENED.

        “What, do you want all guys to stop hitting on chicks after midnight because some girls may find it creepy?”

        The idea isn’t necessarily that all guys should stop doing this, it’s that guys who actually have empathy for the women they are hitting on should reflect for a moment on how the situation looks to the women, and then say to themselves, “maybe I shouldn’t hit on her in a way that will make her think, even for a second, ‘is this guy going to attack me?'” And that if a movement of people is constantly wondering out loud why it has such trouble attracting women, then maybe acting with empathy for and consideration of women is a good starting place.

        Now will someone please explain to me why this is so offensive? You’re all clearly angry, so you must be offended by something, but I really don’t understand what’s wrong with saying, “if you want to be considerate of women, don’t talk to women you don’t know at 4AM in an empty elevator.”

  16. Imagine if she had said yes. Her video would be saying “I met someone at the convention, we really hit it off – luckily he was forward enough to make the first move as I’m so shy!”.

    All the comments would be offering their congratulations and saying how happy they are for her – until somebody pipes up and says “what an awful thing to ask a girl in an elevator!”

    THEN who will be vilified in the comments?

      • The elevator guy is only considered a villain because he was rejected. If she accepted his advance everybody would be celebrating his actions. It’s inconsistent.

      • Even if he HAD been accepted… Unlikely though that may have been given his chosen method, although indeed “anything is possible”, ask any creationist… It would not have made his approach any less clueless. Or any less frightening to other women.

        Now let me ask you something.

        You’re in an elevator, alone, it’s 4am and someone you’ve never met hops in and asks you to go have coffee AFTER you’ve loudly announced (in the place that actually serves coffee) that you’re beat and going directly to bed without passing go. So yes you intend to go crash. And clearly they’re not asking to have coffee, really. You’d be okay with that?

        If “yes”, have you _ever_ felt as though someone might be able to _force_ you to “have 4am coffee” ever before in your life under ANY circumstance?

        If you now answer “no” I expect you’re male, and this is why you don’t get it.

      • I’m not saying she was wrong to feel uncomfortable. She feels whatever she feels – that’s not at issue. I’m talking about what we’re saying about the guy himself. Everybody would take a different stance if his request was accepted. Seemingly you don’t though. If Rebecca Watson was talking with glee about how she met some lovely man at the convention who, fortunately for her decided to make the first move as they ascended together in an elevator, would you reply “what a **** that guy is – he is so sexist!”? Maybe you would tactfully keep quiet, but would you be thinking it? I propose that it seems unlikely.

        I am a male, and yet I disagree that it is why “I don’t get it”. THAT is a sexist remark. Furthermore it is a fallacy of the sort you can read in those handy lists published for atheists who never studied philosophy.

      • “I am a male, and yet I disagree that it is why “I don’t get it”. THAT is a sexist remark. Furthermore it is a fallacy of the sort you can read in those handy lists published for atheists who never studied philosophy.”

        In all honesty had she related in full the same circumstances leading up to her discovering a new romance I would have thought… “Wow, Ms. Watson is truly an adventurer, I don’t think I’d want to take up 4am conversation with someone who just walked up to me. I would at least find them forward. And if I were going to crash, I’d have said no too. HOWEVER… I feel no danger in it. I expect you don’t either. But that’s because I’m male. I honestly don’t expect to be taken advantage of by a woman in an elevator. Partly because I don’t think women generally do that (bigoted blindness) and because I figure if it happened I could cope (hubris). I would still call it a bad idea if you want to succeed in getting a chat. Let alone in a private room at 4am with, and be honest, no coffee.

        I also don’t think the man in the elevator was particularly or rabidly sexist. Clueless, certainly. Ill-advised to be sure. But I can’t say more than that.

        Finally I’d like to address the thought that one needs special training to have a productive discussion. Certainly knowing many of the common/abused “sounds reasonable till you look at it” strategems helps. and being able to say “that’s ad hominem” when someone calls one a name is ever so handy.

        I maintain that the reason being male puts you at a disadvantage to understanding the issue fully, or at least at a deep personal level, is because you have no frame of reference. Like a mayfly has no idea about snow. But this explains it better than I can: https://sindeloke.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/37/

        It takes some imagination. But it’s very real. And not sexist. It’s realist.

  17. “Because she never accused anyone, insulted anyone, or even identified the man in the elevator.”

    I hope you’re trolling. I really do.

    But if not, how bout you look up Stef McGraw before you accuse me of being ignorant of the situation? The more I travel the blogosphere, the more of a massive bitch Watson seems to be in this situation.

    I’m not saying she had no right to feel uncomfortable. I’m saying its a gross overreaction, and the fact that Watson is perpetuating the controversy herself seems (to me) rather damning of her character.

    • I think the controversy was brought to her (Watson), like it or not, because she spoke up in the first place, prompting responses (including McGraw’s). It’s easy for people on the net to use that equal playing field to shield themselves from what did happen at that talk. Yet she (McGraw) was and is proud of and firm on her opinion. That’s all well and good. Apparently it feels a bit different in a room full of minds and peers than it does in the anonymity of cyberspace.

      I didn’t and don’t agree with the blog post McGraw made. I think her view is simplistic and does not take into account the full reality of the situation. It’s easy to leap to the end and say “but nothing happened” as though that were guaranteed. Because it wasn’t.

      I don’t know whether or not Ms. McGraw was personally insulted. Though I believe she would have mentioned that specifically if it had happened. Clearly her post was shown. Her own words viewed and commented on. But that was going to happen online anyway, which she said herself she was comfortable with. And likely the only thing she was accused of was saying what indeed she did say. I don’t think it had to be said at that point that she doesn’t understand the issue. Perhaps just because she’s young, lucky, or perhaps carries mace it’s not cropped up for her just yet. But it has been and is an issue. People get hurt, and people get creeped-out and scared. It’s enough to warrant a video that says “stop that”. It seems to me that she, like many, knee-jerked that this isn’t a problem. And doesn’t like how that then looked afterwards in a room full of people and the person whose disquiet she’d dismissed.

      As to Watson’s speaking about it in her keynote. It was and is a good example of how these things are allowed to slide. in particular:
      “Someone who truly abides by feminist principles would, in my view, have to react in the same manner were the situation reversed; if a woman were to engage a man in the same way, she would probably be creeping him out and making him uncomfortable and unfairly sexualizing him, right? But of course no one ever makes that claim, which is why I see Watson’s comment as so hypocritical.”

      These are not apples and apples. Men are more likely to enjoy being sexualized, for the novelty if nothing else. A man being approached by a woman at the same time and in the same place is not the same situation. It’s a dangerous place. And men don’t feel that danger. They ARE that danger. And even if 90% of the time the danger passes and no harm comes to anyone. The danger was still there. No one can know what was going to happen, until it did.

      As I’ve said before it’s too easy, and indeed too simplistic, to just leap to the end and use hindsight. We didn’t (and don’t) know him. She didn’t know him. It was a risk being there then with him.

      • “These are not apples and apples. Men are more likely to enjoy being sexualized, for the novelty if nothing else. A man being approached by a woman at the same time and in the same place is not the same situation. It’s a dangerous place. And men don’t feel that danger. They ARE that danger. And even if 90% of the time the danger passes and no harm comes to anyone. The danger was still there. No one can know what was going to happen, until it did.”

        And with that, I’m done. No point in arguing with someone who says I’m a threat to women everywhere simply because I have a penis. Its not about my size, its not about my mannerisms, or hygiene. As long as I am a man, women will be scared of me, so I have to toe the line to keep everyone happy.

        Also: I didn’t particularly like all of the sexual harassment I got in high school. Biology class was a nightmare for random groping, really hard to look through a microscope when a girl’s hand is holding my junk. So fuck you on that note.

      • “And with that, I’m done. No point in arguing with someone who says I’m a threat to women everywhere simply because I have a penis. Its not about my size, its not about my mannerisms, or hygiene. As long as I am a man, women will be scared of me, so I have to toe the line to keep everyone happy.

        Also: I didn’t particularly like all of the sexual harassment I got in high school. Biology class was a nightmare for random groping, really hard to look through a microscope when a girl’s hand is holding my junk. So fuck you on that note.”

        I’m not saying that you are. I’m saying that you can be perceived to be. And so can I. And so can Mr. Dawkins. So we should be sensitive to the possibilities. So toe the line to be aware, and to be human. All else is laziness.

        And I guess since you don’t have to toe the line, then it was okay that girl who grabbed your junk in highschool didn’t toe it either. I’m sorry it happened to you, and thank you but no thanks on the sentiment. But they could have learned the same lesson here.

        I’m not saying all men are evil. Nor all women good. I’m saying that I as a man, and maybe you too, if you like, can lean harder in good directions.

      • “No point in arguing with someone who says I’m a threat to women everywhere simply because I have a penis. Its not about my size, its not about my mannerisms, or hygiene. As long as I am a man, women will be scared of me, so I have to toe the line to keep everyone happy.”

        This is just childish. You are not entitled to have the world view you as completely unthreatening. It is very unfortunate that our culture fosters violence in young men (and there is a lot of activist work that you can do to counteract this if it is something you are actually passionate about) but as it is, there is nothing sexist about a person observing that men are many times more likely to attack women than other women are, and taking that into account when thinking to herself, “I wonder what the likelihood is that this person will attack me.” This is what Godfrey meant by “is it really that important that no one say boo about being made uncomfy by a man?” The fact that a woman actually felt unsafe is irrelevant complaining that she shouldn’t have shared at all, but that your ego is bruised because men are perceived as a greater threat than women is an injustice! You are actually arguing that women shouldn’t talk about what makes them feel unsafe (they shouldn’t even take considerations that could preserve their safety!) if it might hurt a man’s feelings. This is an insane double standard.

      • “You are actually arguing that women shouldn’t talk about what makes them feel unsafe (they shouldn’t even take considerations that could preserve their safety!) if it might hurt a man’s feelings. This is an insane double standard.”

        I didn’t want to come back, but I figured someone would say something stupid. And sure enough, here we go.

        Don’t put words in my mouth. Don’t explain to me why you think I feel my ego is bruised (its not, and your opinion on the matter isn’t worth a damn).And don’t tell me what I’m entitled to believe about myself.

        I’ve expressed my opinion. You people can misrepresent it and slander me all you wish, but I’m not arguing with you. But please, continue posting. It’s somewhat amusing, in a depressing sort of way.

      • I didn’t want to come back, but I figured someone would say something stupid. And sure enough, here we go. ========= I’ll leave it to the readers to sort out the stupidity. I think it was fairly obvious, even before you announced your intent.

      • “I didn’t want to come back, but I figured someone would say something stupid. And sure enough, here we go.

        Don’t put words in my mouth. Don’t explain to me why you think I feel my ego is bruised (its not, and your opinion on the matter isn’t worth a damn).And don’t tell me what I’m entitled to believe about myself.

        I’ve expressed my opinion. You people can misrepresent it and slander me all you wish, but I’m not arguing with you. But please, continue posting. It’s somewhat amusing, in a depressing sort of way.”

        You complain about being misrepresented and slandered and open with “I didn’t want to come back, but I figured someone would say something stupid. And sure enough, here we go”? I believe I have done neither. Nor told you what you are thinking or feeling. Please indicate to me where I am mistaken if you think I’m incorrect in this assessment.

        What I am reading and understanding, is that your opinion, and sure those of people you agree with should ride unquestioned, unexamined and unreasoned. True you won’t argue with me. You haven’t argued with me. Nor has Tim really. It’s all come down to statements that boil down to “this is silly” and “they said so” the specific language and persons changing throughout the conversation. My points, and Toads are ignored. No one follows or reads the links, or if they do have nothing to say about them.

        I didn’t arrive only with my opinion. I have reasons and expect arguments. And as much has been made of people having backgrounds in philosophy or science being able to cogently argue these things out I’ve seen no evidence of that anyone is willing to do so here and on this topic. Point out the gaps in my information, the flaws in my logic. I’ll go there. If I’m wrong I’ll admit it and have learned something. Will anyone else venture as much? Will you?

        So be amused. Be depressed. Be insulted. But that’s all down to you.

        It doesn’t mean you’re right.

      • “I’ll leave it to the readers to sort out the stupidity. I think it was fairly obvious, even before you announced your intent.”

        If you can’t add content, ad hominem.

      • Phil, you are the one who said “No point in arguing with someone who says I’m a threat to women everywhere simply because I have a penis.” That was you. I didn’t put words in your mouth, I simply interpreted what you said. Were you not talking about the fact (even though you implied that it was an irrational thing to accept) that many women are likely to find any man threatening, given the right circumstances? If I misunderstood what you were saying, maybe instead of just calling me stupid, you could point out my mistake. It seems like almost everyone on this blog has trouble telling the difference between insult and cogent argument. Which is odd: one would think that if Godfrey and I were really as illogical as you all keep saying, it would be pretty easy to refute our arguments with reason. Generally one only has to resort to insults when there isn’t anything else.

  18. In my view, Rebecca Watson has handled this terribly, as have many others. I don’t really know much about her (other than that she is not a scientist or philosopher). She made a YouTube video complaining about a man inviting her back to his room “to chat” because he found her “interesting”, after saying “don’t take this the wrong way…”. She assumed it wasn’t to chat, and supposedly took it the wrong way. It “sexualised her”. Now, all clear-thinking people might see a slight inconsistency here. However, that doesn’t really matter. She can make a YouTube video and complain about an incident and, although I feel a bit embarrassed for the man she rejected, she doesn’t deserve vilification for that.

    Richard Dawkins made some comments that I agree with. One of the things he cares passionately about is the treatment of women by certain religious communities (and people have the gall to call him ‘sexist’). I think he was just drawing our attention to the disproportionate amount of material decrying the terrible treatment of women in “the atheist community” (whatever that is). Suppose you walk past a person dying in terrible agony, while another has a grazed knee. Yes, the grazed knee is bad, but if all people talk about is the grazed knee you’ll try to bring the conversation around to the dying person sooner or later. That doesn’t mean you think that grazed knees are fine.

    Perhaps you disagree. In any case, we’re all mature individuals able to discuss the arguments in a rational manner. Rebecca Watson, however, and many of her followers do not believe we should do this. Instead, we should insult the heretics and campaign for their ostracism. I hate it when people religious analogies to talk about non-believers, but this is such that it doesn’t even require an analogy.

    If any proof of this is needed, read what Watson writes:

    “I will no longer recommend his books to others, buy them as presents, or buy them for my own library. I will not attend his lectures or recommend that others do the same.”

    and
    “Dawkins is not the present. He is the past.”

    and
    “I’m sure Dawkins will continue to be stinking rich until the end of his days. But those of us who are humanists and feminists will find new, better voices to promote and inspire, and Dawkins will be left alone to fight the terrible injustice of standing in elevators with gum-chewers.”

    The letters page just put up on Skepchick is just embarrassing to read. No doubt Dawkins gets insane letters all the time but I cringe knowing that he’ll be receiving all sorts of insults and profanities right now, from those who proclaim themselves “rational”.

    • 1) “Don’t take this the wrong way” means he knew that what he was about to say at least had the potential to be taken badly. And in my response to your last comment I covered how it slants to the sexual. Perhaps that’s WHY he disclaimered himself. But it would have been wiser to not do it at all. Even for a chat, it was an insensitive move on his part. So yes embarrassment for him is appropriate.

      2) Context (at least for Ms. Watson) were playing a big role. She was speaking on what men can do to make women more welcome. And while the man in question maybe missed that talk, it became a perfect example of “don’t do that guys”. He was a guy. Guys do that. so it was an ancdote, and some advice, simple.

      3) While Dawkins may be wonderful 9 times out of 10, he clearly does have a blind spot. And I can see why Ms. Watson and others have been wholly turned off. To Mr. Dawkins, and clearly to some here, there IS no problem. Which is a point of view being a male, particularly a white male, reinforces in or culture.

      4) I appreciate your analogy, and Mr. Dawkins’ previously, but here was no agonizing death in progress to discuss in this event, thankfully. However when getting women more involved in atheism and secular groups has been a going topic of discussion for the last year or so, and Ms. Watson is and has been out there talking trying to foster that every way she can, when she hands out practical advice like “don’t be that guy” to see so many people blow it back at her, Mr. Dawkins included, is more than a little disheartening. So you want the womenfolk around, but only if it’s convenient to your present habits. Fair enough… just be honest. The whole topic was the “skinned knee” and why people are justifiably afraid that it might sometimes lead to an “agonizing death”. So lets help people not skin their knees so they don’t have to worry about catching sepsis and croaking. Gods, that analogy got tortured.

      5) I cannot and will not speak to all or any of the specific hyperbole that both Ms. Watson and Mr. Dawkins are being subjected to. It is definitely unfortunate, and in my view it is the larger problem. Ms. Watson asked for a bit of awareness, that was all. What’s followed has been inexplicable to me. On the part of ms. McGraw, Mr. Dawkins, and so many others, and the really unfortunate charged responses their lack of awareness has incited. It’s snowballed quite catastrophically. However I will say this… At least this is a fight the secular/atheist community can have without anyone being stoned to death.

    • Thanks for the link. It’s an interesting perspective with some parallels to the current debacle. In the interest of keeping my ‘devil’s advocate’ status, I’m forced to remind everyone that elevator guy wasn’t THAT forward in his bungled attempt at a ‘coffee date’. I’m also not clear as to whether elevator guy was at, or even a part of, any of the previous earlier discussions concerning atheist feminism. Don’t have an attendance list, but since there are a lot of different workshops/lectures (that’s my impression anyway) it’s a self-selected minority of guys who would be interested in such stuff in the first place. I think my angst arises out of the fact that it’s a fools errand (and an off-topic for a skeptics forum IMHO) to believe that this behavior will be ‘taught out’ of the male consciousness. This means that there will ALWAYS be a reason for these women to complain, and if they chose to invoke their right do do so, it’s pretty much game over for keeping the focus on the group’s MAIN objectives.

      • So your primary grievance isn’t that there is anything wrong with what she said per se, but that if we accept it as a valid thing to complain about we’re going to have to keep hearing about it, and you can’t stand hearing women whine?

        It’s also really absurd that you (and basically everyone who has a problem with Skepchick’s statements) are so convinced that men are INCAPABLE of learning to be empathetic and considerate, to the point that you are OFFENDED at any effort to explain a woman’s perspective in a very specific case to a small group of men (who didn’t even have to watch her video if they didn’t want to). It’s absurd first because it’s insulting and misandarist (I have many male friends who are actually capable of changing their behavior when new information is brought to their attention, and are also completely capable of responding to this new information like adults instead of like petulant children who are just resent that they might be expected to ever consider anyone other than themselves before acting) but also because it’s demonstrably false! To take just one example, look at the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace now compared to 60 years ago*. You could argue that this change is because of legislation, or increased litigation, but really it’s because people’s mentalities have changed. It was brought to the attention of a significant portion of men in the US that this behavior was inconsiderate, and those men, being decent, reasonable, adults, who didn’t actually INTEND to make anyone uncomfortable, modified their behavior accordingly. It was no longer normal behavior in the workplace. All because women “complained.”

        And while I’m sure there were dudes sitting around then saying to each other, “well, it’s not that I think their grievances are illegitimate necessarily, it’s just that if we let them complain about this, we’ll never hear the end of the nagging, AMIRITE??” but nobody really looks back at them and says, “if only some dudes had been assertive enough to nip all this ‘complaining’ in the bud!”

        *That this kind of collective behavioral change is somehow impossible is so obviously false that I am beginning to suspect you are not arguing in good faith.

      • We WILL have to keep hearing about it again and again, if the girls have their way. That’s a fact, separate from any fantasy Utopian future desired by all. Why? Because there will, as long as either of us are living, always be jerks.

        Skepchick is high profile enough that when she does a video, there will be enough attention that hot button issues will be rebroadcast far and wide. Is this an issue I want to see taking up time and space every time some jackass does some jackass thing, or when some jackass doesn’t do a jackass thing, and some jackass girl is still offended? No, it’s not.

        FWIW, I’ll totally ignore the subject going forward. I’m just sick to death of all this sophomoric teeny-bopper bullshit.

      • “it’s pretty much game over for keeping the focus on the group’s MAIN objectives.”

        I also want to point out that there are a lot of people (me, for instance) in the atheist community for whom making the movement equally welcoming to people who aren’t white men IS a main objective, for several reasons that I can get into if anybody is interested.

      • It may be worth updating things a bit.

        It has been established that EG (Elevator Guy) was actually present at the talk in question.

        Further, the reason/topic of Ms. Watson’s talk was in support of the currently/frequently discussed topic of bringing more women into (making them more openly active in) the atheist/skeptic movement. So it was apropos and on topic at the conference.

        As for ‘training out’… While I think it’d be a wonderful thing if everyone (not just men) thought about what they were doing and how it was affecting others at all times, I agree that a sort of uniform improvement on any mass scale is unlikely. However, even a handful of individuals in our community would be progress. And if progress can only be made one individual at a time, it’s still progress worth making. As with every individual, the skeptic/secular/atheist movement grows. Not to convert or actively proselytize, but also not to turn off any skeptic or atheist that could be part of our discussion.

        So, for the moment, it’s about men not pushing women out of the tent. However actively or passively, knowingly or unintentionally they may be doing it.

      • In the interests of supplying references…

        “There are two important things to note about Rebecca Watson’s experience. The first is that she had spent much of her evening telling the people around her, “Please don’t hit on me,” and finished by saying she was done talking and wanted sleep. This was ignored by the man now widely referred to as Elevator Guy. (Yes, it’s been established that he was in a position to hear her. Yes, it’s been established that he followed her out of the space in which she’d been saying this and got on the elevator with her.)”

        This was taken from: http://almostdiamonds.blogspot.com/2011/07/letter-to-professor-dawkins-from.html

        Which is also worth a read.

      • If this topic of no interest to you (fair enough, your priorities are your own) then having the skeptic movement include women can then only be of marginal interest to you at best. I cannot claim to understand what you do think are important issues. However, one might think you’d appreciate having more minds arguing skepticism than less.

        I suggest you reread that last tidbit I posted at the bottom of the thread here.

        You do yourself a disservice in claiming this is “sophomoric teeny-bopper bullshit.” It’s not an age issue. Tough it could be argued to be a maturity issue. Whose maturity… well, I think that’s something you’re less likely to agree upon.

      • FWIW, my wife is 100% in agreement with me on this. She’s often at odds with me, sometimes just for the sake of argument (LOL), but AT BEST she thinks this is much ado about nothing. Let’s not forget that there are other female atheist skeptics (one noted by Skepchick in her video) that also do not see this as an issue. Would be interesting to get their input.

      • Good thing you included a “for what it’s worth” caveat, because it’s worth extremely little.

        You aren’t very good at this. Calling us sophist or sophmoric or teenyboppers (or calling women “girls”) isn’t winning the argument for you. Telling us that your wife thinks we’re wrong also isn’t winning the argument for you. If you think what I’m saying is wrong, tell me why. Don’t try to hide behind insults and non sequiturs.

        I am not surprised that you have negative things (sour grapes) to say about Pandagon. The commentariat there doesn’t tolerate poor arguing very well.

      • Also, regarding this:
        “We WILL have to keep hearing about it again and again, if the girls have their way. ”

        Are you or are you not trying to silence these concerns? Earlier it seemed that you thought the very idea was completely absurd, but then here you are complaining that if the “girls” get their way, you’ll have to hear them say things all the time.

      • “FWIW, my wife is 100% in agreement with me on this. She’s often at odds with me, sometimes just for the sake of argument (LOL), but AT BEST she thinks this is much ado about nothing. Let’s not forget that there are other female atheist skeptics (one noted by Skepchick in her video) that also do not see this as an issue. Would be interesting to get their input.”

        That’s her prerogative, certainly. I never claimed everyone had to agree. Although I do maintain that dismissing it as trivial is anti-intuitive and counterproductive. Ignoring something never actually makes it go away.

        So in one regard you’re correct. As long as this issue is dismissed, you will be hearing about it forever.

        But, before you move on, I want to invite you once more to see some other opinions. on the matter. Dangerous, I know. I’m married as well and willfully seeking an opinion other than one’s spouse’s can have its risks… But do indulge me this once:

        http://almostdiamonds.blogspot.com/2011/07/letter-to-professor-dawkins-from.html

        If enough people think it’s an issue. It’s an issue.

  19. Here’s another perspective that may be helpful in refocusing the issue and perhaps explaining things in a way easier to process than Toad and I have been managing…

    Improbable Joe wrote on the Skepchick blog:

    “Which brings up blame vs. responsibility. When you try to tell guys to take a little goddamned responsibility, they seem to think you’re blaming them for everything. As a man, I’m not to blame for sexism and privilege or any of that. I AM responsible for not contributing to the sexism or taking advantage of privilege. I’m not to blame for Elevator Guy, but I am responsible for not being the next Elevator Guy. I’m not to blame for the culture of casual sexism that exists online and IRL, but I’m responsible for not contributing to it and for calling out the people who engage in it.

    You don’t have to accept blame for the bad behavior of others. You absolutely need to accept responsibility for your own behavior, and if you’re up to it the larger responsibility of being a good citizen and trying to maybe carve out a tiny bit of the world where sexist BS isn’t acceptable.”

  20. many women, your wife included it sounds like, do a sort of “uncle tom” thing where they’ll say and do anything to be “one of the guys” and dismiss/silence other women because they think it wins them points with the “ruling class” (men). so, just like how black people can be racist and homosexuals can also be homophobic, it is also true that some women can be sexist even though they are women. your wife’s persistent need to shame and dismiss other women is troubling.

    • To be fair, it’s just as likely that the opinions expressed are genuine. That’s allowed. People can have their opinions. If they want to argue their validity they then need evidence. That’s how it works.

      However… Regardless of the feelings or intentions of any woman who feels that Ms. Watson should have kept her mouth shut, they WILL be co-opted and used as evidence by men who feel ill used by anyone who dare suggest they examine their own behavior. “Woman X says it’s ok, so it’s ok” is an appeal to authority, not an argument.

  21. If Skepchick does not like being sexualized, she should stop doing pin-up calendars and blogging about her sexual fantasies. What a hypocrite she is. Now she wants to destroy Dawkins’ career. She is a blight on the atheist movement.

    • I don’t that was her intent, but the backlash against his opinion by her supporters is certainly something that got my attention, as well as raising quite a bit of ire against Skepchick, a woman who I admire, but whose credentials, experience and education are no match for his.

      • Be fair.
        His opinion was in itself sarcastic backlash.

        And no one’s supporters are being uniformly reasonable.

        Also, when did skeptics and atheists start needing credentials? I though we just needed truth, reason, and the means to put them together.

    • 1) Ms. Watson should be able to express herself as she likes (sexually or not, within reason and law) without repercussion. Same as you.

      2) Whatever her expressions in past or future, none of them act as a rubber stamp for anyone of any gender to take that as justification for any amount of unpleasantness however minor.

      3) Mr. Dawkins destroyed himself (if indeed he is destroyed). He’s never been so thoughtless or so clumsy in addressing an earnest theist as he has been an earnest feminist.

      4) the blight is in here where you cite calendars and dismiss any atheist because they dare to make you uncomfy with your own behavior or views.

      Summation: 100% hyperbole, 0% content.

  22. 1) Ms. Watson should be able to express herself as she likes (sexually or not, within reason and law) without repercussion. Same as you.

    Same as Stef McGraw and Richard Dawkins, yet they have been unfairly attacked by Watson and her followers.

    2) Whatever her expressions in past or future, none of them act as a rubber stamp for anyone of any gender to take that as justification for any amount of unpleasantness however minor.

    That applies equally to Watson. She has launched a vendetta against Dawkins, a massive overreaction.

    3) Mr. Dawkins destroyed himself (if indeed he is destroyed). He’s never been so thoughtless or so clumsy in addressing an earnest theist as he has been an earnest feminist.

    I think Dawkins was clumsy too, but this is not the same as destroying himself. It is Watson and her followers who have set out to destroy Dawkins. I am sure the Creationists are laughing in their socks, because Watson has managed to do what they would never have been able to do – divide the atheist community against itself.

    4) the blight is in here where you cite calendars and dismiss any atheist because they dare to make you uncomfy with your own behavior or views.

    You know nothing about my behaviour or views towards women, so let me set you straight. Rape is a serious issue, but in my opinion Watson has trivialized it by comparing it to the discomfort she felt by being cold-propositioned in an elevator. It is this trivialization that McGraw and Dawkins are objecting to.

    I am not really clear on Watson’s motives in all this. She has written on her blog that she uses humour and controversy to promote skepticism and atheism. In this instance the humour has gone, but there is certainly controversy, but what is it in aid of? It seems to me that far from promoting skepticism, or even feminism, she is promoting herself. She has boasted that she has 10,000 readers on her blog, and she has boasted on her Facebook page that she is enjoying the controversy surrounding herself and Elevatorgate. Watson’s vendetta against Dawkins may not be motivated by vindictiveness. It may instead be calculated to bring down his reputation as a feminist speaker in order to elevate her own reputation. I think she is treading a dangerous path. Rather than helping women by raising consciousness, she is splitting the feminist movement.

    • “Same as Stef McGraw and Richard Dawkins, yet they have been unfairly attacked by Watson and her followers.”

      I notice that you dropped the pin-up calendar thing in a hurry. But to stay on-thought, are you saying that Ms. Watson was not attacked? Are you saying that she herself has attacked either Mr. Dawkins or Ms. McGraw? Now be clear. A publicly stated disagreement is not an attack. Links please if she has. As to followers, there are hyperbolic atrocities occurring on all sides. If Mr. Dawkins and Ms. McGraw have been attacked, then Ms. Watson has taken just as much if not more.

      “That applies equally to Watson. She has launched a vendetta against Dawkins, a massive overreaction.”

      If you mean the boycott, she’s allowed. I was equally dismayed by Mr. Dawkins’ flippant and sarcastic reaction. PZ Meyers in his latest blog seems to think that Mr. Dawkins was simply not in possession o the full facts and was instead reacting to the hyperbole of other men. I dearly hope Mr. Meyers is correct. That said, I think all could be mended by a simple reconciliation recognizing the disconnect.

      “I think Dawkins was clumsy too, but this is not the same as destroying himself. It is Watson and her followers who have set out to destroy Dawkins. I am sure the Creationists are laughing in their socks, because Watson has managed to do what they would never have been able to do – divide the atheist community against itself.”

      You shall note that I had said “(if indeed he is destroyed)”. I personally think he shall survive. The community is moving on. Further… I think one loud creationist would get all heads to swivel back round to unleash the sort of reason-based folly-searing onslaught that by now one would think they’d be used to. Don’t worry too much. None of this will stop any of us being atheists. With luck… it may serve to remind people that just because they’re right about one thing, doesn’t mean they have the answer to everything pre-nailed.

      “You know nothing about my behaviour or views towards women, so let me set you straight. Rape is a serious issue, but in my opinion Watson has trivialized it by comparing it to the discomfort she felt by being cold-propositioned in an elevator. It is this trivialization that McGraw and Dawkins are objecting to.”

      No I don’t. I only had your opening salvo to go on, which was…unfortunate. Yes rape is serious. It doesn’t make women feeling threatened less serious or okay or negligible. She didn’t call anyone a rapist. She said “don’t do that” in regards to behavior that many women find threatening and with good reason. Rape was dragged in by easily offended men who wanted to pitch a fit rather than consider the possible implications of their actions. No one required they be offended, or comment, or even that they HAD to take Ms. Watson’s advice by law. That said, you’re of course entitled to your opinion. Just as Ms. McGraw and Mr. Dawkins are. I want to believe that this was because they were reacting more to the hyperbolic reaction than what Ms. Watson actually said. Because she was moderate, clear and inoffensive in her request.

      “I am not really clear on Watson’s motives in all this. She has written on her blog that she uses humour and controversy to promote skepticism and atheism. In this instance the humour has gone, but there is certainly controversy, but what is it in aid of? It seems to me that far from promoting skepticism, or even feminism, she is promoting herself. She has boasted that she has 10,000 readers on her blog, and she has boasted on her Facebook page that she is enjoying the controversy surrounding herself and Elevatorgate. Watson’s vendetta against Dawkins may not be motivated by vindictiveness. It may instead be calculated to bring down his reputation as a feminist speaker in order to elevate her own reputation. I think she is treading a dangerous path. Rather than helping women by raising consciousness, she is splitting the feminist movement.”

      I am not a regular reader of Ms. Watson’s blog. You have made a number of allegations. Please provide links to support these statements.

      • Although I’m uncertain of what precisely this video intended to prove, I’m inclined to think that you’re using it to undermine Ms. Watson.

        She didn’t make it, though images of her have been placed in it along with a lot of text, presumably not her own. Nor was it posted on the skepchick youtube channel.

        So the implied argument appears to be a case of A has engaged in B. Therefore A cannot make any complaint at all about or have an opinion on B. Anything A says about B should be dismissed, because A has done B. Further A can be treated to B at will, no problem. A being Ms. Watson, and B being sexualizing herself.

        This would be a faulty argument because A is allowed to engage in B if she likes. It’s part of the whole personal freedom of expression thing. However. It does not follow then that A can then be treated to B by anyone at any time for any reason. That’s an imposition and removal of her agency to be in control of her own B or its representation.

        It’s akin to saying; “Tim has volunteered to mop floors. Therefore Tim can be made to mop floors at any time and for any reason whether Tim want to mop that particular floor or not and regardless of whether he feels inclined to do so. Also, Tim should never be able to complain about mopping floors because he has voluntarily done so in the past.” It’s nonsensical.

        However, you may have just been being rude. In which case, do ignore the reasoned argument above and return to just responding to people you think can browbeat instead of defending your views to Toad, myself or anyone else who has questioned them.

    • Finally, another one of those rare sane opinions. No ad hominems or misrepresenting your opponent’s positions! And you moderate your voice by making it clear that this is simply your opinion? Well done silkworm!

      Also: PZ is really starting to get under my skin on this. That recent video link was just an immature misrepresentation of the opposition, which ultimately insults everyone. Bad form.

      • A sane opinion that alleges that Ms. Watson’s impetus in going from topic to example was to elevate herself by bringing Mr. Dawkins down? Is this more of Tim’s sort of “satire” as well?

        But no, by all means pat those who agree with you on the back and avoid at all costs engaging in a reasoned discussion..

        Oh and that video Mr. Myers posted. I thought it was a giggle. It clearly represents a lot of behavior on a lot of topics within many groups (of men). I had just hoped that skeptics and atheists, by dint of having a brain, could be immune to such things.

      • “If Skepchick does not like being sexualized, she should stop doing pin-up calendars and blogging about her sexual fantasies. What a hypocrite she is. Now she wants to destroy Dawkins’ career. She is a blight on the atheist movement.”

        A reminder of the sanity.

      • As I said, no ad hominems or misrepresentations. Even if silkworm was on your side, I’d be applauding them for not stooping to the level of many people on both sides of the debacle.

        And, as for reasoned discussion….

        “These are not apples and apples. Men are more likely to enjoy being sexualized, for the novelty if nothing else. A man being approached by a woman at the same time and in the same place is not the same situation. It’s a dangerous place. And men don’t feel that danger. They ARE that danger. And even if 90% of the time the danger passes and no harm comes to anyone. The danger was still there. No one can know what was going to happen, until it did.”

        Followed by this whopper from another on your side…

        “You are actually arguing that women shouldn’t talk about what makes them feel unsafe (they shouldn’t even take considerations that could preserve their safety!) if it might hurt a man’s feelings. This is an insane double standard.”

        Good luck with being a responsible commentator.

      • “As I said, no ad hominems or misrepresentations. Even if silkworm was on your side, I’d be applauding them for not stooping to the level of many people on both sides of the debacle.”

        Are you sure? Silkworm said this:
        [If Skepchick does not like being sexualized, she should stop doing pin-up calendars and blogging about her sexual fantasies. What a hypocrite she is. Now she wants to destroy Dawkins’ career. She is a blight on the atheist movement.]

        Point one about being sexualized could be extended to saying that it’s also fine to proposition strippers outside the club. And I hope you know that that’s not okay either. Accusing her of hypocrisy is unfounded, or solid foundation has yet to be supplied. What exactly is she being a hypocrite about? If it was the point above it still fails to stand. Expressing her sexuality in one venue does not make her fair game for anyone at any time to sexualize her. It’s a personal agency thing. And where is evidence to support that Ms. Watson’s aim is to destroy Mr. Dawkin’s career? How is that not a misrepresentation?

        “And, as for reasoned discussion….

        ["These are not apples and apples. Men are more likely to enjoy being sexualized, for the novelty if nothing else. A man being approached by a woman at the same time and in the same place is not the same situation. It’s a dangerous place. And men don’t feel that danger. They ARE that danger. And even if 90% of the time the danger passes and no harm comes to anyone. The danger was still there. No one can know what was going to happen, until it did."]”

        Just saying it’s unreasoned proves nothing. Refute it. “more likely” is not “will always”, the situations are not equal for many to most individuals, and judging threat post-facto is simplistic, convenient and unhelpful.

        “Followed by this whopper from another on your side…

        [“You are actually arguing that women shouldn’t talk about what makes them feel unsafe (they shouldn’t even take considerations that could preserve their safety!) if it might hurt a man’s feelings. This is an insane double standard.”]”

        Again, calling it a whopper is not an argument or refutation of the points offered. Toad was responding to what you and others have said. And time and again the case boils down to “how dare she say that/she shouldn’t have said that”/she has no right to say that” when what she (Ms. Watson) said was in no way an attack on men. Counterarguments that supposed that there could never be a threat and that no change in behavior should ever be called for prompted this specific response. Some women feel a threat even when the threat in question is in no way inclined to be threatening. And for good reasons. Women get attacked in elevators. It happens. And the only remedy offered has been a gun or a dog. Anything else is seemingly an insult to men or perhaps human nature.

        It may be worth noting at this point that feeling threatened in the first place may be just as much a part of this elegantly reasoned human nature Tim speaks of as chatting up people in elevators.

        “Good luck with being a responsible commentator.”

        Thank you. I’m doing my best.

  23. A reminder of the sanity.

    Thank you, Godfrey. Finally you are coming around to my point of view.

    Tim, thanks for posting that video. It is a better demonstration of the mixed messages being pushed by the Stepchicks than their calendar does.

    Speaking of mixed messages, let me point to a talk given by Watson, here:

    Go to 4:36 to hear Watson call herself a “dour man-hating shut-in,” and then a few sentences later deny that she is a “man-hating shut-in or an asshole” but then correct that denial to admit that she is still an asshole “sometimes” (almost inaudible). What can anyone make of this? I ran this several times, and the most generous interpretation I could come up with was that by agreeing that she was a man-hating shut-in she was making a joke, and that in case anyone couldn’t tell it was a joke, she corrected it, but she admitted she was herself an asshole in order to get a laugh. It’s all very confusing. It shows just how poor her communication skills are, and this from someone who has a degree in communications! In fact, watch the whole of that video if you want evidence of just how bad a communicator she really is. And her jokes aren’t that funny.

    So, Watson admits she is an asshole (sometimes). For someone who is so heavily into self-promotion, you would have to say that this was a misstep. Why would anyone promote themself as an asshole?

    • The video you highlight was uploaded Nov, 2009.

      On July 11, 2009, she and Sid Rodrigues were married in a surprise ceremony > during The Amaz!ng Meeting 7 > .[5] However, on > April 8, 2011, she announced that she and Rodrigues were separated and > seeking a divorce.[6] >

      Two years of marriage is not much. Considering how ‘smart’ she considers herself to be on the issue of male/female relationships, I’d definitely keep that off my resume if I were her.

      • Yes, Tim. I watched the wedding on youtube shortly after I posted my comment. I was unimpressed to say the least. I was however impressed by the following comment which had been moved up to the top of the comments.

        What amazing narcissism! Two people imposing a private moment on a bunch of unsuspecting people to bolster their own egos. The staged nature of the event is a circus, a natural move on behalf of an unimpressive skeptical figure who constantly gets raised on a pedestal due to her sex in a movement of nerdy and pathetic males.

        So, their divorce only happened in April? I wonder if her divorce has anything to do with this latest fiasco. Maybe the elevator incident shows that she has become more picky with men; or maybe she has discovered a new way to generate publicity for herself.

      • I stumbled onto the divorce info when looking for her educational credentials (ending in a LOST bet with my wife that she was probably a classically trained biologist/scientist with a degree in the hard sciences, and not just some whiny hippie-chick with a humanities degree (actually “communications”, but it didn’t qualify as ‘science’). My un-researched intuition that she was more scientifically educated was biased by seeing her mentioned so often within the skeptic/atheist movement. My wife’s impression that she is a sniveling, over-coddled hippie chick sycophant hanger-on, comes from her three or so minutes watching the now notorious Skepchick video. Please don’t misinterpret my wife’s impression, or my disappointment in Skepchick over this current affair, as an attack on the overwhelming amount of good work she is doing in other areas I totally agree with her on.

        As to the issue of her divorce. I do think it is relevant in examining her bias. It’s something skeptics use all the time when looking at the claims made by others. I think it matters that the creationists are known liars for Jeebus when looking over their public statements. A charlatan’s criminal past is a wonderful thing to point at, even if you can’t yet legally prove the new-fangled thing he’s pushing today absolutely falls into the same category. So sure, the fact that Skepchick had just gone through a divorce is probably cause to think she might be jaded.

        If you really want to get ‘meta’ on the issue of male/female relationships, vis-a-vis Rebecca’s personal example, it can get even uglier. One could rightly point out that taking ANY relationship advice from a supposedly intelligent, rational, and mature thirty year old woman, who makes such a disastrous choice in a mate that it begins and ends within a twenty four month period, is not a good idea. Makes about as much sense as getting marital advice from Newt Gingrich.

        Enjoy.

      • Here is another comment I gleaned from the comments on their wedding on youtube. This is a reply to Argus who made the comment about Sid and Rebecca being narcissists.

        Some of these boys who can’t get laid don’t like smart women taking away the spotlight for even a second. This Argus character is one of those whining bitter “men’s rights” types. Strong women sure of their sexuality makes some boys nervous. Get over it boys, we chicks are here to stay so man up or go home alone.

        This seems to be part of the heartless narcissistic ethic underlying the Skepchicks. They are using the threat of witholding sex as a means of punishing their male critics within the skeptical movement. And “men’s rights”? Really?

        Speaking of being “heartless,” I noticed that in her Wikipedia image, Rebecca is wearing a black heart pendant around her neck. Says it all really.

      • This is again irrelevant. At no point did Ms. Watson put herself forward as an authority on relationships. Further, her relationships have no bearing on the original issue.

        If, however, she had a documented history of giving people friendly advice that then resulted in women NOT attending atheist and skeptic gatherings, that would be relevant. She’d be working against her original purpose and that would be a point.

      • Yes… I’ll un-ring the bells of your disappointment and wife’s impression when I get a chance, shall I? But they are also irrelevant. Her credentials and background do not disqualify her from making the statements and giving the advice she did. And no one has said a word to what sort of degree one needs precisely in order to do so.

        But…

        “As to the issue of her divorce. I do think it is relevant in examining her bias. It’s something skeptics use all the time when looking at the claims made by others. I think it matters that the creationists are known liars for Jeebus when looking over their public statements. A charlatan’s criminal past is a wonderful thing to point at, even if you can’t yet legally prove the new-fangled thing he’s pushing today absolutely falls into the same category. So sure, the fact that Skepchick had just gone through a divorce is probably cause to think she might be jaded.

        If you really want to get ‘meta’ on the issue of male/female relationships, vis-a-vis Rebecca’s personal example, it can get even uglier. One could rightly point out that taking ANY relationship advice from a supposedly intelligent, rational, and mature thirty year old woman, who makes such a disastrous choice in a mate that it begins and ends within a twenty four month period, is not a good idea. Makes about as much sense as getting marital advice from Newt Gingrich.”

        This too is irrelevant. She’s not giving out relationship or marital advice. She is not a “known liar” (you didn’t say it specifically, but you brought it into play). And even if she were “jaded” as you say, it would not make her talk, or the relation of the anecdote, or the advice that she gave with it anything more or lass than it was. Which was good advice for people who want to see more women in the atheist movement.

      • “This seems to be part of the heartless narcissistic ethic underlying the Skepchicks. They are using the threat of witholding sex as a means of punishing their male critics within the skeptical movement. And “men’s rights”? Really?

        Speaking of being “heartless,” I noticed that in her Wikipedia image, Rebecca is wearing a black heart pendant around her neck. Says it all really.”

        Quoting her response without also quoting the preceding comment is disingenuous. Context is everything.

        How can they threaten to withhold sex from their critics unless they were having sex with them in the first place?

        There are Men’s rights people out there (see the Google). I don’t know how many are also skeptics or atheists.

        And you’re citing her clothes now? Are you also likely to make the argument that women who dress provocatively want to be raped? You appear to believe women who wear black hearts are apparently heartless narcissists.

        Finally, none of this is relevant. Fun for you, maybe, but not relevant.

    • This too is unproductive, and smells of ad hominem. It’s not relevant to the initial incident and only seeks to undermine her point by continuing the allegation that she is self-promoting through strife. If it seems like a bad idea to self-promote by calling oneself an asshole, that may be because it’s not happening at all.

      I have yet to see any links or evidence to support your allegations.

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