Pledge Your Allegiances

Does anyone know what we’re still arguing about…?

Who cares! Now, we can all choose sides, anyway!

Who’s your horse in this battle?

*Sigh*

In case it’s not clear, I’m kidding. Stop taking sides. Please stop taking sides.

Everyone is overreacting. All of you. (Yes, you too.)

There are lessons we can learn from all this.

As soon as you figure out what they are, you are welcome to share them in the comments.

  • http://forthesakeofscience.com Michael Hawkins

    Those shirts have breasts behind them.

    Sexist.

  • Bentley

    There is 1 important side to take: against misogyny. Every step of the way, there have been comments that are sexist and dismissive, and comments failing to recognize sexism for what it is. It is an important debate that started over something small.

  • Claudia

    You know, I’m usually never an advocate for “ignorance is bliss” but in this one case…

    I haven’t followed the shitstorm and most importantly I have read not one single comment. I was certain that it would blow up into a hurricane of insults and drama, with a fair amount of unfair accusations of sexism and blanket dismissal of women’s complaints thrown in. I don’t need the higher blood pressure. So have fun everyone, I’m sitting this one out. I guess sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

  • Rich Wilson

    I’m just glad I seem to have been living under a rock for the last week. Or whatever.

  • Egg Fu Laura

    This is so confusing to me (and probably any other reader who doesn’t give a sh*t– as the shirt so eloquently put it.) I really don’t care what happened, but I do have one request: Could we not give extra attention to what seems like petty drama? I visit this blog to avoid that whole mess and it’s a bit disconcerting to see you devoting such a useful forum to such an asinine topic.
    Edited: I read some of the comments so I must make one amendment for clarity. Sexism IS an important topic and should be addressed. I just think this is a sophomoric way of bringing light to the subject without actually having to address the subject. It’s adding fuel to a fire that you claim to not care about, but from this post, it seems that you doth protesteth too much!

  • Alex

    It’s not clear that you’re joking, Hemant, because you’re still talking about this three posts later. Nobody has learned a goddamn thing. Michael is the brilliantly one-dimensional evidence above. Let it die.

  • Zadius

    This shitstorm actually amuses me a great deal. I think it’s because I’m sort of in the middle (guy was inappropriate in the elevator, but not even close to being misogynistic), and I’m rarely in the middle on any issue. I need some popcorn. Keep prodding them, Hemant !. :)

  • Pam Ellis

    You just can’t win, Hemant.
    Any reaction you give will be taken as complete dismissal of the views of one (or both) “sides”.

    Best to just sit back with a nice chilled alcoholic beverage of your choice.

  • Pam Ellis

    Alex, Michael is joking.

    You are taking this meta far too seriously.

  • Egg Fu Laura

    Okay, I missed the whole elevator incident. I was at the FFRF Lake Hypatia Advance this weekend and didn’t catch the previous post. What the hell is wrong with this country where this is seriously an issue? White Wine much?

  • http://forthesakeofscience.com Michael Hawkins

    It’s not clear that you’re joking, Hemant, because you’re still talking about this three posts later.

    Plus he has a penis between his legs. Don’t forget that sure mark of woman-hating.

  • Rich Samuels

    Team move on, bored now.

  • http://notanygods.blogspot.com/ Miss Coconut

    I’m going to have to go with Elevator Guy. He’s probably just really nerdy and doesn’t socialise much. Besides, he has a cool name. If I get another dog, I’m naming it Elevator Guy, even if it’s a girl. So there. …Or maybe a fish. I like fish.

    And damn you for having boobs in this post, you misogynist! How dare you! *Fist shake*

    *Cough* So…moving along….

  • Alex

    Plus he has a penis between his legs. Don’t forget that sure mark of woman-hating.

    I enjoy my penis, Michael. I’m sorry yours is small enough to feel so threatened all the time.

  • Michael

    Cheap drama makes good blog fodder.
    Adamant feminism is just as easy a way for a guy to get laid as direct approaches in an elevator.
    Implied assumptions make it easier to flame on people who annoy you.

  • Zadius

    I love having a penis, Michael. I’m sorry yours is small enough to feel so threatened.

    Aww damn, oh no you didn’t! :) :)

  • Heidi

    Hold on a minute, now. Shouldn’t there be shirts for Team Jen and Team Richard Dawkins? Because I totally want a Team Jen shirt, low cut in honor of Boobquake. 8)

  • Alex

    Do you know of a good way to get laid through anonymous internet comments, Michael? Don’t question my integrity or presume heterosexuality merely for calling out your bizarre male persecution whingefest. You’re no satirist.

  • Evolily

    See, here is a very subtle, almost unnoticeable sign of male privilege. If both parties were male, it is likely they (the t-shirt designers) would address them by their last names. But with women we are almost always referred to by our first names. Even by other women who have been socialized to those same norms.

    Things like this- these subtleties, the tendency to treat a woman as a sexual object despite giving a lecture on why she hates this, feeling empowered to corner a potential conquest on an elevator… it is small, almost insiginficant, but it adds up to creating a woman hostile environment within the atheist community. I want to be treated as an equal, I want to be respected, and until that happens I’m not sure that I will move beyond the periphery. It isn’t a huge issue, but it is an issue that needs to be addressed. Most of the atheist women I know are activists- but none are actively involved in the atheist movement. That’s a huge loss.

  • http://www.happyatheists.com Slickninja

    I’m for Bill Hicks.

  • http://geo-geek.blogspot.com Rachael

    I think a valuable lesson might be: If you think it’s ridiculous, just go to bed and stop adding to the shitstorm. Even if someone is wrong on the internet.

    A secondary lesson that is my axe to grind: Turning the sarcasm up to 11 and telling people they should stop arguing because children are starving in Africa or something is ultimately just stirring the pot more.

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    Hemant, keep it coming. Your approach is brilliant. People say it’s not important, but several threads discussing this have hit hundreds of comments. So it obviously touched a nerve. Hell, I even posted about it, and I haven’t posted on an atheist topic in months.

    This could be the first bona fide schism in the atheist ‘movement.’ It’s not going to go away. Everybody worries about driving *women* out of the atheist movement. But what about driving *men* away? The knee-jerk feminism I’ve been hearing in response to this very unfortunate flap is bordering on misandry: Collective punishment for every unsophisticated schmo who dares to croak out an awkward come-on at an inappropriate place or time. HINT: Clueless guys are not rapists. Elevator guy clearly “got” the feminist message that “no means no,” but somehow that’s not good enough anymore.

    I don’t think all women agree with Skepchick. In fact I’m pretty sure quite a few are embarrassed about it.

    If feeling like Skepchick’s very public and over-the-top response to a one-minute private verbal encounter was humorless, foolish, and self-defeating makes me a misogynist, then so be it.

  • chloe

    Evolily, we’re not objects, but we’re all sexual creatures with drives. So a guy fancies me? I’ve fancied guys before now. I’ve ogled builders and I look at football players bums whenever I can. At university I made passes at guys I didn’t know. Does that make me a misandrist? Or a normal person with healthy desires? Whatever, fancying men according to my tastes is a privilege of mine and I don’t want to give it up!

    Ultimately I’m in the middle over this like Zadius. It was cocky and slightly inappropriate. But nothing else. What is harmful is people mouthing off at Richard Dawkins and sneering at his academic career because his opinion over this doesn’t match theirs. Such a shame. They’re arguing over elevator horndog’s dodgy etiquette and letting their manners slip in the process. Everyone needs to breathe, relax and get on with life! And leave Hernant alone for trying to peacemake.

  • http://forthesakeofscience.com Michael Hawkins

    I enjoy my penis, Michael. I’m sorry yours is small enough to feel so threatened all the time.

    I can’t believe you would talk about your penis in a place like this. Brittle women are reading here and they are going to feel threatened by you, you misogynist.

    You’re probably racist, too.

  • AxeGrrl

    Claudia (as she so often does) nailed it.

  • Iason Ouabache

    Shirt #4. Yeah, give me about a half dozen of those in XL. I have a feeling I’m going to be needing a lot of them in the future.

  • gogoyubari

    “If feeling like Skepchick’s very public and over-the-top response to a one-minute private verbal encounter was humorless, foolish, and self-defeating makes me a misogynist, then so be it.”

    Really? A brief video description of what happened–without mentioning the guy’s name–and the mild suggestion, “guys, don’t do this” is “very public and over-the-top”?

    What’s over-the-top is the mischaracterization of what Rebecca actually said and what actually happened.

    • McDooley

      No shit.

  • Kenny

    Fucking nailed it BlackSun.

  • Charles Black

    I frankly have had enough hearing about this non-issue, just let it go ok?

  • KeithLM

    I don’t understand Hemant, if you want people to move past this, then lead the way, stop talking about it. It goes on and on because people like you keep going on and on about it. Fucking drop it already.

    Seriously, this is just like those stories Jon Stewart does where he shows the media reacting to the media covering a story by saying “is the media paying too much attention to the story”. Just stop covering it.

    I know one thing for certain, if I ever decide to attend one of these meetings, and that’s becoming less likely as this thing keeps going, I’ll be staying the hell away from Rebecca, and probably any other girl at the event.

  • David Waldock

    My conclusion is that people do people things in people ways. This may not, I’ll grant you, be the deepest insight ever.

  • Kerri

    Chocolate or Vanilla.

    Discuss.

  • mthrnite

    I used to really like this blog. :/

  • Nick Andrew

    No, Hemant. This is not the time to stop taking sides. This is the time to stand up for your principles, listen to the other side, and if your principles are wrong then fucking change them.

    I’m on team anti-misogyny.

  • Gordon

    Is there a t-shirt with “One movement indivisible” on it…

    it could have a herd of cats squabbling underneath.

  • http://www.phoenixgarage.org/ cr0sh

    How about “Team Learning From Our Mistakes”?

  • AxeGrrl

    Hemant, I have a sincere question for you….

    why did you feel the need to start THREE separate blog posts on this?

    Especially when your first was entitled “everyone needs to calm the fuck down

    You do that and then plead for people to ‘stop taking sides’?

    *mind boggled*

  • http://www.phoenixgarage.org/ cr0sh

    I know one thing: Ignoring this issue or shutting up about it because there’s too much drama will -not- make it go away. It won’t fix anything. It certainly won’t increase conference diversity.

    Give it a few more days, and this current issue will drop off our collective radar, just like the last, but related issue, did. Nothing will be resolved, many men in the atheist movement will still be clueless as to what the problem is, many women will still be upset that this is the case.

    We’ll merrily go about our lives, until the next shot across our collective bow occurs because of this same issue that we seem to ignore, in the greater scheme of things, at our collective peril. Let us hope we all “get it” and stop being a bunch of cats in a room full of rocking chairs, and come to some kind of consensus that we can all agree upon, otherwise our enemies are going to eat us for lunch.

    This infighting and lack of understanding and empathy does us no good.

  • http://forthesakeofscience.com Michael Hawkins

    I think what we really need is separate elevators for men and women.

  • Greg

    Hemant – can we have another T-Shirt?

    “Team Learning What the Hell the Words We Are Using Mean!”

    Bit long, granted.

    Anyway, I guess I’ll take shirt #4. I usually steer well clear of things like this – anything that involves feminism is impossible to have a rational conversation about. Unless you agree with every single thing a certain type of person says you are a misogynist. And there’s always a good few of that kind of person in the discussion.

    • McDooley

      I’m sure walking in to conversations with that approach gets a lot of people on your side. Women are irrational, especially those pesky feminists!

  • Richard Wade

    Team T shirt

  • Beriaal

    BlackSun nailed it.

  • Leena

    I’m “team I don’t give a shi*t”…

  • Trace

    I am on the “not with a 10 foot pole” team

    Oh, and happy 4th of July!

  • Discount Deity

    You know what, Hemant? Fuck you.

    There is a legitimate serious misogyny problem in atheism, and making jokes and condescendingly telling everyone to chill the fuck out is not helping. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    Consider me a former reader.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

    “There is a legitimate serious misogyny problem in atheism”

    Huh??? Not enough drama in your life, Discount Deity?
    Fuck this, I’m going back to bed. Wake me when it’s over.
    Happy 4th everyone.

    • McDooley

      This was a very mature response. You really showed that woman, didn’t you.

  • http://pinkydead.com David McNerney

    @The Godless Monster

    I don’t know… Discount Deity sounds really Poey to me. If Poe can be extended to this debacle.

    If not – I’m fucked.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    I’m “team stairs”
    Or
    “team ‘go ahead, I’ll take the next elevator’ “

  • anonymous

    Saying that everyone is overreacting sounds like an overreaction to me.

    If we go and recapitulate. We first have Watson not making a big deal about it, but instead saying, as a hint that it is not a good idea to do it.

    The problem is that many people reacted pretty badly to this mere suggestion. “Not a big deal”. Etc. The reality is that when you think about it, it IS creepy to choose a desolated elevator at 4:00 AM to offer someone that has never talked to you before to join you for a coffee in your hotel room. Watson didn’t really make a big deal about it, but the problem comes from people that don’t want to accept that it is actually very creepy to do that.

    Misogyny shows not because of a guy being unaware that the circumstances in which he is asking people out are creepy. But the misogyny shows when people quickly jump into trying to make it look like doing that is fine. The correct non-misogynist reaction to this is “oh, I didn’t stop to think about this before, but I think that you may be right and doing that is not a good idea. I will try to consider this before asking women in our community out“. Rather than “big deal! You are wrong, this does not matter. I am a man and I will ask you out in any situation I find convenient. All you can do about it is say no. The new information I just heard about that it may actually be uncomfortable for you is irrelevant to me.”.

    I for one, think the latter reaction rightly deserves to be condemned.

  • Bee

    I’m Team Dawkins/Elevator guy.

  • Chris aka “Happy Cat”

    Bentley said:

    There is 1 important side to take: against misogyny. Every step of the way, there have been comments that are sexist and dismissive, and comments failing to recognize sexism for what it is.

    As has been said repeatedly, sexism is not misogyny. I haven’t seen a display of misogyny from the original cast of this drama nor from the spectators in the peanut gallery.

    Using that term casually betrays the severity of its actual definition: hatred of women. I have not seen this demonstrated.

    As for sexism, well, there’s objectification, but isn’t all sexual attraction without prior intimacy a form of objectification. We need to remember the definitions of Misogyny and sexism, so I’m going to repost from another thread:

    Misogyny: hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women. Misogyny is the antonym for philogyny, which is fondness, love or admiration towards women.

    Sexism: discrimination on the basis of sex, esp the oppression of women by men

    Some comments might have been sexist, but so many people responded in full Gloria Steinem battle mode, wielding axes that are ground to a fine point.

    Creepy late night schmoozing. Check. Unpopular response expressed by third party in a public forum. Check. Unprofessional use of a bully pulpit for a perceived slight. Check. FFS, where is the misogyny and the sexism?

    • McDooley

      You must be completely unfamiliar with the history of the American Feminist Movement to single out Gloria Steinem as your Bloodthirsty Misandrist Amazon.

  • Tom Bourque

    I have no idea what’s going on and I don’t really care to.

    I skimmed Hemant’s post about two women arguing, but I still don’t know what is going on. I’m not interested enough to look into it either.

  • Chris aka “Happy Cat”

    A quick follow-up to my last comment: Of course the woman in the elevator was right to be unnerved in the situation. I’m a man, but I’ve been in tight situations just as alarming to me. It’s the follow-up reactions and attitudes toward the incident that I feel were way overblown.

  • Carpus

    It’s July 4th. I’m on Team Lincoln.

    Happy Independence Day!

  • Josh

    I really do want that “Team I Don’t Give a Shit” shirt.

  • Eleanor

    Evolily: Um, I think it’s a play off of Team Edward and Team Jacob, from Twilight, not a “subtle, almost unnoticeable sign of male privilege”. Unless that privilege also extends to non-human male characters in really bad young adult novels.

    There are major issues that need to be addressed (both in feminism and atheism), and it’s a shame that they’re being passed over in favor of the thrill of shaking one’s fist angrily at something that quite likely isn’t even there.

  • Lena

    Hemant, if the issue concerned a bunch of atheist and evangelical christians arguing about whether something were discriminatory towards atheists or not, there would be no question of who was right. When a group of fundies claim that atheist are being oversensitive we all know which side is full of shit.

    But when women in atheism are telling you that there are problems for women in the movement, your response is to mock and dismiss them (over the course of THREE posts)? I guess even atheists feel the need to be religious about their biases.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    I would say the antiquated virtue of prudence is still much needed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/staks Staks Rosch

    Sign me up for the “Team I don’t give a fuck” shirt. Why are so many atheist bloggers blogging about this? We don’t need this kind of drama and you shouldn’t be giving it one post let alone several posts.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So Rebecca was creeped out, Rebecca asked guys to stop creeping people out, and somehow Rebecca’s overreacting? I don’t think so.

  • Harmless

    I don’t attend atheist conferences, because everything I’ve heard indicates that I can expect to be hit on by strangers all weekend, and that doesn’t sound like any fun at all to me.

    I’m reading all these arguments full of men defending why it’s harmless for them to hit on women at conferences, and they apparently don’t understand why a woman might not want to spend her weekend that way.

    So I stay home. Because that isn’t my idea of a good time. In fact, it sounds just awful.

    Now, you’re a man. If men make unwanted passes at women all weekend, that doesn’t affect your ability to enjoy the conference at all. Unless, of course, you have any female friends whose good time you care about. Or unless it bothers you that these conferences will remain mostly male for the foreseeable future. But if neither of those things bother you, then you have luxury of not caring about the kind of experiences women have at atheist gatherings.

    That must be nice. I don’t have that luxury. Since I’m female, I don’t get to decide that I don’t care about the kind of experiences women have at atheist gatherings.

    But what I’ve learned from this ‘controversy’ is that, if I were to go to such a gathering, I’d be surrounded by mostly men, some of whom will make clumsy passes at me, and most of whom will think that’s okay, and if I even mention that this is unpleasant for me, I might become the target of a maelstrom of male anger.

    If you’re trying to make atheism an all-male endeavor, you’re doing great.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    I think PZ Myers made a good point: that Rebecca Watson’s initial reaction to the elevator incident was appropriate and she didn’t try to compare it with what women go through in other countries or Islam. (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/07/oh_no_not_againonce_more_unto.php)

    I don’t think Elevator Guy was a horrible, terrible person or anything, but I also think he made a bad judgement call in the venue for making his offer. I don’t like that there’s an automatic dismissal whenever a woman brings up something that made her uncomfortable at an atheist event, as was mentioned in a previous comment.

    I like Richard Wade’s shirt, though to make it relevant to me, it’d say:

    Team I’m 23

    Team I’m busy with my pharmacy school rotation

    Team how can I help you today

  • Nordog

    Face it, many feminists think about men they way many atheists think about Christians (and vice versa of course).

    • McDooley

      Heaven forbid a woman points out something men do that makes them uncomfortable.

  • Izzy

    I wouldn’t call this a petty argument in the face of all the evidence to the contrary. There have been way too many blog posts and comment threads to call it that.

    And if I’ve learned anything from this flame war is that empathy is the shit and that everyone needs to calm down, listen (read) and try to see things from another person’s point of view and try to understand what they’re trying to say and where they come from. You know, practice empathy (and thank you Hemant for showing how its done! I really enjoyed your first post on this subject). I understand and appreciate Rebecca’s POV even though I recognize that not all women would feel and react the same way. We all have different life experiences that color the way we perceive the world around us (and it goes without saying, this applies to men too). I myself learned very young to be weary of men when I was almost raped by a male babysitter (two weeks prior to this incident, we had a special class at school with puppets and other visual aids to explain to us what sexual abuse is. So when buddy tried to gain access to an area of my anatomy that I was old and autonomous enough to handle by myself, I yanked free of his grasp and ran the hell out of the house) when I was in 2nd grade and groped at age 17 in broad day light while waiting for a train (I was only talking to this older guy, being friendly as that is my nature, up until the moment he started to comment on my physique and groped a thigh!! A true WTF moment that was!). If I’d been in that elevator at 4 in the morning (truly speaking for myself, basing myself on my own personal experience and not talking on behalf of all women everywhere in the world), I would have been very, very uncomfortable too by his proposition. Although its not elevator guy’s fault what happened to me in the past. I do feel for “elevator guy” who in another time and place might’ve had more luck. I don’t agree with Stef’s POV, but I can see and appreciate where it comes from.

    I think more people in our movement should give empathy a try.

    And with this, I will conclude my first and only comment on the subject by saying that I’m team Hemant! ;)

  • Steve

    and if I even mention that this is unpleasant for me, I might become the target of a maelstrom of male anger.

    Wrong. It’s ok if you mention that it’s unpleasant. Most people would agree that it is.

    What’s not ok is creating such childish drama about this and spreading it over the whole atheist blogosphere. Or equating this to rape – so not what happened.

    • McDooley

      Please, let’s hear from more men in the comments that unwanted male attention has nothing whatsoever to do with rape.

  • GregFromCos

    Greg Said:

    anything that involves feminism is impossible to have a rational conversation about. Unless you agree with every single thing a certain type of person says you are a misogynist. And there’s always a good few of that kind of person in the discussion.

    That summarizes my opinion pretty much exactly on this.

    For me this issue has shown one thing. Certain elements of the movement are honestly no better than Glen Beck about twisting the reality of what happened, in an attempt to make a point. When I see PZ telling Richard Dawkins that this is the same as a fan getting too close and not leaving when asked, I just lose much respect, because its not even close to the same. This guy left when told no. When I see people somehow trying to equate what happened to rape, I just get sick. How demeaning is that for those who have been raped to compare this incident in any way?

    I’ll say again, I’d be very cautious if I were an organizer of a conference about inviting Rebecca to talk again. The way she used one of her talks as a bully pulpit (for something pretty much everyone agrees was minor) was in my opinion, the one thing in this whole discussion which was absolutely unacceptable. She showed very bad judgement as one of the leaders of the movement.

  • Hitch

    There is a real issue here but it is not discussed.

    Rebecca is fine to articulate her feelings, and she has a point.
    Elevator guy is fine to ask.
    Richard is fine to not think it’s a big deal.

    This is an ultra-nuanced point, one that is filled by hyperbole and exaggerations.

    So was the elevator guy unaware or insensitive. Perhaps.

    What what situation is fine? When is it not potentially insensitive to approach someone.

    Every time when one approaches another person without knowing if they want to be approached on takes that risk, and what settings are OK is a matter of a certain nuance.

    But yes, don’t do it in enclosed spaces without having the party you approach have an easy way to say no and leave is not good.

    But we get the whole spectrum from all men are potential rapists, to outright misogyny that just pile on a woman who expresses a legitimate discomfort.

    Reality is that our discomfort cannot be heard. On “all sides”. How much sympathy would a guy get if he said just how unpleasant it is to constantly deal with the potential rejection when you talk to someone you think is interesting, or worse have it blow in your face because it was not received as intended. But we should hear each other’s discomfort to actually understand what is going on. Perhaps we need 50% approaching by both genders, perhaps if women talked to men in elevators as much as the inverse, perhaps if we had removed or made “getting to know” less gender-patterned, perhaps we’d have a different discussion.

    So what side? All sides.

  • Harmless

    You boys keep arguing among yourselves about what the best way is to get atheist women to have sex with you. I don’t think that organized atheism is for me.

  • Meredith

    This idea that every side of an argument must be given the same amount of respect is ridiculous, and we as atheists should know that better than anyone.

    Just because someone overreacts about something doesn’t mean they don’t have a valid point.

    - Team “I don’t want to be hit on in an elevator either”

  • Patrick

    I’m getting pretty sick about this mess. So people did stupid stuff, and there’s no need to have even more stupid stuff done in the proces of talking about the stupid stuff that happened. Let’s all just get over it, okay?

  • Roxane

    Team Must Be Spending Too Much Time Online. Team Backing Away Slowly Now.

  • Amaris

    I find it funny that feminists are being compared to Christian fundamentalists in the response here. The defensiveness of men over Skeptichick offering advice how not to be a creeper sounds exactly like Christians who protest gay rights because civil equality infringes on their “right” to discriminate. I know in your privileged world your words have no consequences and since you never ever engage in hostile or benevolent sexism you don’t need to address those pesky ideas expressed by other men. Right.

  • Lena

    You know what the real problem is? People are taking Rebecca’s original point personally.

    Guy’s, it wasn’t personal. She took something she experienced and used it as an example of the problems of sexism in the movement and the world in general, and gave the general advice to not do what that man did because she assumed that most atheist men wouldn’t want to make women uncomfortable in that way. At no point did she say that every man is sexist, and that any man who has ever approached a woman in the context (because context it everything) she described is an evil rapist. But that’s the conclusion that many of you jumped to because it’s easier to get defensive instead of taking a minute to examine your privilege.

    This reminds me of Jay Smooth’s How to Tell People They Sound Racist video. Replace “racist” with “sexist” for an excellent explanation of what’s going on with this discussion.

  • http://www.AtheistsHelpingtheHomeless.org Joe Zamecki

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: When we get deeply involved in side issues, we inevitably bicker and that sometimes leads to division. This seems like a big side issue.

    I’m just glad that plenty of us are taking this lightly, and even having a little fun with it. :)

  • Ed L.

    Here’s the t-shirt Richard Dawkins should wear:

    “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”
    Prof. ‘enry ‘iggins, My Fair Lady

  • doglovingirl

    Wow. This whole thing is so junior high.

  • tellmetrue

    The entire ‘problem’ exists because people no longer practice good manners. Think of all the things that were said and done (or alleged to have been said and done) and decide if ANY problem would have existed had all parties practiced good manners.

  • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Tom is Money

    One thing that should stop is this fantasy that white males are scaring women and minorities away from the atheist movement.

    What are Star Trek conventions doing to scare away women and minorities?

    No matter how many women and minorities get made into captains and powerful lead characters, you will still have a majority of white males at your conventions. Why???

    “Why aren’t they joining atheism?” is the wrong question. The right question is, “Why aren’t they leaving religion?”

    How do you tell women and minorities to leave the comfort of their churches, their families, their mommy groups; their safe-zones. How do you tell them to self-ostracize themselves? And for what? Good conversation? Friends with similar interests? There has got to be something more enticing than that. Something to make it happen all at once. This cannot be done person by person.

    If only Oprah had come out as an atheist on her last show, instead of the nonsense she actually said. It would have been a good gauge as to the fight we’re up against. If her audience had all started to nod, and viewers around the world had seen the nodding and started to nod, we’d be succeeding by now, and this type of infighting and bickering would not happen.

    We’ve all got the same goal. It’s just that women and minorities that are already on board are as mad as hell, and they’re frustrated that their gender, their race, or their nations are still just not getting it. They want to blame someone, but they don’t want to blame the people they’re trying to convince.

    Stop blaming the producers of Star Trek for not being more appealing to women and minorities.

  • Pixie Song

    Why should everyone move on from this discussion simply because you tire of it? Furthermore, why do you feel everyone else should stop talking about it when you keep bringing it up over and over again?

    Perhaps you should follow your own advice.

  • Dubliner

    I’m glad to see from some of the comments above that there are other women who are not in pearlclutcher mode over this incident. I can’t understand why Watson was more than mildy perturbed by this episode. I’ve had my share of unwanted persistent propositions and gropes over the years but this incident was neither of those. I’ve seem commentators on some sites dangle the spectre of elevator rapes! If every time a guy fancies a women he has to shut his mouth in case she thinks it is a prelude to a rape the population would die out in jig time.

    Can I also comment on the tendency in the atheist internet community to be so friggin dogmatic? (Especially PZ and his followers but it is a common phenomena). Anyone who doesn’t agree lock stock and barrel is a misogynist -even those of us who are both women and staunch feminists apparently. Same sort of thing applies to the level of assertiveness to be utilised in promoting science and atheism. Anyone who isn’t enamoured with name calling and permanent attack mode is a dreaded “accomodationist” to be cursed and vilified. It’s all very childish.

  • Offlogic

    There’s been a whole lot of churning over a chance “dick move” by a adult-aged male saying the wrong thing the wrong way at the wrong time to the wrong person in an enclosed space.
    Elevator dude, you screwed the pooch. Dedicated feminists hate the term misogynist being applied to them or their opinions over a difference of perspective. Normally reasonable males of a certain age (50+) that have one foot in the “Mad Men” culture and are trying to negotiate 21st century realities have trouble bridging the divide between how they grew up thinking and what’s real and makes sense now.
    Can’t we understand that we’re all, as people, atheists and humanists, all on the same path, albeit at different milestones? Can we accept this and get along or just quit talking to each other and quit stirring the pot, or are our individual egos going to keep fighting until no-one on the Internet is wrong anymore?
    The idea that Only We Have the One True Outlook… eh, kids, that stuff is for theists and the GOP, right?
    C’mon. As Mom used to say, “I will turn this car right around if you don’t stop this nonsense!!!”.
    Mom was right.

  • BeardofPants

    There is clearly a problem when a large number of people (predominantly male) are telling the feminist readers/bloggers/activists to STFU. For those who don’t give a shit, how nice for you that you don’t consider it to be your problem. For those of us who do (have to) give a shit, this doesn’t go away. We can’t just will it away. We confront this shit wherever we go. Would that we had the privilege to stick our fingers in our ears and ignore it.

  • http://remijdio.com Nickolas Johnson

    I’m so ecstatic that I missed out on all of this. Ironically, I was too busy watching “reality” TV to see it unfold. :-P
    MOVING ON!

  • Alex O’Cady

    The real tragedy is that when a woman encounters ACTUAL sexism, the feminist extremists are going to make her look like the boy who cried wolf. This is, IMO, the problem with most social movements and being “politically correct”; if you spend every minute of every day picking out everything that can possibly be construed as offensive, then people are going to stop listening to you because you just sound ridiculous.

    And for the record, I am a lesbian. I have been hit on when I wasn’t interested, and I have been raped. I have enough objectivity to recognize that the two experiences are vastly different.

  • MAK

    Have to agree with Alex O’Cady. I have been a rape victim and I have also been the time alibi for a man wrongly accused of rape.
    Every woman who wrongly accuses a man of rape hurts actual rape victims.
    Some women are calling elevator guy a sexist, misogynist and wanna be rapist and everyone who disagrees that he was those things, a sympathizer or also a misogynist/sexist/privileged.
    We should not water down those very specific terms until they can be used on anyone who disagrees with your point of view.
    On twitter, I saw several posts calling Richard Dawkins a “rape like” guy and a misogynist. I saw someone joke “Richard Dawkins was not elevator guy because Dawkins would have offered his rape victim tea, not coffee.”
    So now the jump has been made from Watson being asked for coffee, to Watson being a rape victim in that elevator.
    I think it’s sad that the passion that has arisen over this issue is 100X more the passion I have seen over any other issue. More has been written about it in such a short time, more people have decided to leave the secular community over it, more people have been called names over it, more people have commented on it.
    Our priorities are screwed up if this is going to be the poster cause/destroyer of the secular movement.

  • MAK

    http://twitter.com/Java6Nerd/status/87877095153336321
    That is the twitter joke I was referring to, and we are supposed to take it as a joke.

  • jolly

    Every time a feminist subject comes up it becomes a shitstorm. I think it is now obvious that this is a very important topic. I would be very pleased if some women got together and talked this through seriously. As a man, I would like to hear the discussion proceed without any input from men.

  • Lena

    NO ONE HAS SAID THAT ELEVATOR MAN IS A RAPIST OR MISOGYNIST. Where are you people getting this? There’s a lot of nuanced discussion, and if you don’t understand it you should educate yourselves instead of jumping to these broad conclusions.

    We’ve all got the same goal. It’s just that women and minorities that are already on board are as mad as hell, and they’re frustrated that their gender, their race, or their nations are still just not getting it. They want to blame someone, but they don’t want to blame the people they’re trying to convince.

    Stop blaming the producers of Star Trek for not being more appealing to women and minorities.

    You do know that it’s not only a choice between atheism and religion, don’t you? There are plenty of female non-believers, probably the same number as male atheists. Why aren’t they well-represented in the formal atheist community? Well, there are the ones, like myself, who probably just aren’t interested in being a part of an organized group for various reasons. Those are probably the majority. Then there are those who might be interested in joining an atheist group but are turned off when they encounter the sexists attitudes displayed by men who are supposed to be more intelligent and enlightened since they don’t believe in gods.

    As for your Star Trek analogy…huh? Are you saying that women aren’t watching, or that they’re not going to conventions and such? Because if it’s the latter, then it’s the same exact problem that’s plaguing the atheist community…large amount of members who are dismissive and often openly hostile to people with different views and experiences.

  • MAK

    These comments are from the name names blog pz myers wrote.
    There are more on youtube and all the other blogs.
    These are just the comments that refer to him specifically as a “potential rapists” not the ones calling him/his actions misogynist and not the ones that talk about how this situation could have been one where a rape occurred. There are a lot more of those.
    This situation is absolutely being discussed as one where a rape was likely and so the implication is that the guy in the elevator would have been the rapist.

    “Elevator Guy was playing rapist wannabee so strongly that even normally clueless me recognized it.”
    “And if you were trying to understand why Rebecca had that perception instead of trying to excuse the would-be rapist, then you’d realize it as well.”
    “Well of course you don’t do it, but you’re supposed to be flattered at the opportunity and not complain about it because it’s every man’s right to bother you in elevators and make you wonder how close you are to being raped!”
    “I can say exactly what made elevator guy rapey.
    1: Alone in an elevator. When a lion isolates something, it is because it is prey – so approaching a woman in an isolated setting? Predatory.”
    “He could have just as easily realized that he didn’t have time to subdue, strip and copulate with his chosen target before the elevator reached a floor with people and so chose to abort his planned rape once it was clear that she would not go willingly to the crime scene.”

  • Alex O’Cady

    NO ONE HAS SAID THAT ELEVATOR MAN IS A RAPIST OR MISOGYNIST. Where are you people getting this?

    I’ll admit I haven’t read every comment out there (has anyone, really? That’s a lot of freakin comments), but I would imagine we’re getting it from the amount of times people are referencing rape and misogyny in the discussion of a poorly executed pick-up.

    From what I gather, Watson herself said that she did not feel threatened. So merely bringing up rape and misogyny is implying that those subjects are somehow relevant to the discussion. They’re not. In the incident itself, there was no hatred of women, there was no threat of sexual assault. Not. Relevant.

    I will admit to being taken aback by some of the defensive anti-feminist comments being made…but then, I’m also not a feminist. I am, if you’ll pardon me borrowing the term for my own purposes, a humanist.

    Realistically, there’s no way we can ever hope to achieve actual equality (not special privilege) among the human race if we can’t have a discussion without people screaming about being butthurt by word choices and implied/imagined meanings. Feminists have emotions. So do non-feminists.

    Until we can all learn to think before we speak, and look at situations objectively, we’re pretty much doomed to petty, childish arguments like this one that blow minor, inconsequential events into huge shitstorms that distract us from more crucial issues.

    Put another way, why would the “white male patriarchy” of the atheist movement even want to include women if they’re just going to bitch and whine all the time about being offended by everything the men say and do? This movement (inasfar as it can be considered a collective movement) should be about working together for a common goal, not bickering over what descriptor to use and accusing any man who even thinks of being attracted to a woman at an atheist event of being a sexist pig.

    As a sidenote, I’m baffled that people would be offended by the very idea of a guy hitting on a girl at an atheist event. If there’s one thing I think we CAN agree on as atheists, it’s that being an atheist in the existing American culture is pretty damn hard. So, finding someone whose worldview is compatible with yours is exponentially harder. Wouldn’t it logically follow, then, that if you were at a conference attended primarily by people whose worldview have a much higher possibility of being compatible with yours, you might be on the lookout for someone who you might have romantic/sexual compatibility with?

    • McDooley

      You’re so enlightened to take a label for yourself over accepting that women’s rights are human rights and sexism hurts men too. By all means, continue looking at atheist conferences as a feeding frenzy and not at the woman you’re making a pass at. Does she want the same thing? Did she tell you she was tired? Did you introduce yourself or just rush to your goal? Did she lead a speech against what you were going to do?

  • Harmless

    If there’s one thing I think we CAN agree on as atheists, it’s that being an atheist in the existing American culture is pretty damn hard. So, finding someone whose worldview is compatible with yours is exponentially harder. Wouldn’t it logically follow, then, that if you were at a conference attended primarily by people whose worldview have a much higher possibility of being compatible with yours, you might be on the lookout for someone who you might have romantic/sexual compatibility with?

    Do you think that alienating women so badly that most won’t go to the conferences, and those who do are on their guard against unwanted advances, is a good way to accomplish this goal?

    If you knew in advance that no woman at the conference will have sex with any man at the conference, would you still want women to attend?

  • crowepps

    If every time a guy fancies a women he has to shut his mouth in case she thinks it is a prelude to a rape the population would die out in jig time.

    Since there’s no possibility that a woman might be interested in sex independently without him expressing his interest, and women would never have children unless impregnated by strangers.

  • http://liberalfaith.blogspot.com/ Steve Caldwell

    If you’re trying to raise money for the James Randi Educational Fund (JREF), then you should also have a “Team PZ” shirt.

    Based on readership numbers, you will sell a lot more.

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    “The real tragedy is that when a woman encounters ACTUAL sexism, the feminist extremists are going to make her look like the boy who cried wolf. This is, IMO, the problem with most social movements and being “politically correct””

    Best comment of the day by Alex O’Cady!

  • Alex O’Cady

    Do you think that alienating women so badly that most won’t go to the conferences, and those who do are on their guard against unwanted advances, is a good way to accomplish this goal?

    There’s a huge difference between unwanted advances, and persistent unwanted advances. As has been stated by others, there’s not really a good way to know if an advance is unwanted until it is made and subsequently rejected. If, as in this case, the person making the advance then backs off, then there’s nothing to be concerned about.

    I’m married, and happily monogamous. Any advance anyone made toward me would be unwanted. Should I then never leave the house for fear of being hit on? Should I expect the entire world to anticipate and accommodate my personal feelings about being hit on?

    If there is a problem with people not knowing how to take no for an answer at these conferences (I haven’t been fortunate enough to attend one, so I don’t know), then that’s another issue altogether, and one that should be discussed rationally and objectively – without resorting to incendiary language and demonizing anyone who disagrees with one’s own point of view.

    If you knew in advance that no woman at the conference will have sex with any man at the conference, would you still want women to attend?

    Are you saying that there aren’t any women attending atheist conferences that would be receptive to romantic overtures? That all women attending atheist conferences have zero interest in connecting with any man at said conferences in any sort of romantic or sexual way?

    I’m not trying to imply that atheist conferences are merely singles mixers. I’m just pointing out that just as romance, dating, and flirting are a part of everyday life outside of these conferences, it’s fair to expect that they will have some small part to play while attending them.

  • Lena

    From what I gather, Watson herself said that she did not feel threatened. So merely bringing up rape and misogyny is implying that those subjects are somehow relevant to the discussion.

    See, that’s exactly what I mean when I see that people are really misunderstanding the nuances of this discussion. Bringing up rape and misogyny IS relevant to the discussion,but that doesn’t mean that the elevator guy is being accused of rape and misogyny. It means that we live in a world where all kinds of sexist ideas are internalized, and, most often subconsciously, those ideas influence our actions and our responses to the actions of others. So when it comes to rape, while most women aren’t constantly thinking about getting raped, many of us do feel uncomfortable in certain situations, like a strange man following us in an elevator at 4 in the morning and asking us to go their room even though we had made it clear that we’re tired and want to go to bed. That man most likely didn’t have any nefarious intentions, but his actions still come across as creepy. Neither side is the bad guy. But for any men who might care about such things, Rebecca was letting you know that you shouldn’t do that because it would creepy out many women.

  • Harmless

    There’s a huge difference between unwanted advances, and persistent unwanted advances. As has been stated by others, there’s not really a good way to know if an advance is unwanted until it is made and subsequently rejected. If, as in this case, the person making the advance then backs off, then there’s nothing to be concerned about.

    What I’m imagining as you say this is being in a room in which I am outnumbered by men, say, 20 or 25 to one. I’m imagining five or six of these men walking up to me and clumsily propositioning me, because somehow they’ve made it to adulthood without finding a good way to recognize the rare occasions when it would be a good idea to proposition a stranger.

    I’m imagining that the men around me think this is normal and acceptable, since each of the people propositioning me only asks once. That seems like no big deal to each of them, but it means I spend the weekend saying ‘no’ to creeps.

    Why on earth would I spend my weekend this way?

    Are you saying that there aren’t any women attending atheist conferences that would be receptive to romantic overtures?

    Not at all. I’m asking exactly what I asked: does anyone even want women at these conferences, except as a possible source of sex? If the women were not a possible source of sex, would they be at all welcome?

    I know in advance that I don’t want to have sex with you. Do you care that I didn’t go to the conference?

    It makes me sad, actually, because, as you said, it can be lonely to be an atheist, and it would be nice to be able to connect with like-minded people. But it wouldn’t be nice to spend the weekend being creeped out and hit on, and there doesn’t seem to be any alternative convention for women who don’t want to be hit on.

    Never mind. There’s no reason for me to try to persuade you to interact with women as if they were human beings, and not a backwards game of Whack-a-Mole in which you’re trying to find the hole you can stick your dick in. If you are a grown man who doesn’t already know that, you probably aren’t worth the time I spent typing this message.

  • Alex O’Cady

    Never mind. There’s no reason for me to try to persuade you to interact with women as if they were human beings, and not a backwards game of Whack-a-Mole in which you’re trying to find the hole you can stick your dick in. If you are a grown man who doesn’t already know that, you probably aren’t worth the time I spent typing this message.

    Maybe you missed the part where I’m a woman. I won’t bother to respond to the rest of your comment because it seems irrelevant to me, as I don’t have a penis.

  • crowepps

    I’m not trying to imply that atheist conferences are merely singles mixers.

    I don’t have any problem at all with romance, dating or flirting, but the assumption that without any of those preliminaries every single guy there is entitled to one request for a casual bang implies that the presence of women at atheist conferences is considered to be part of the ‘entertainment’ rather than part of the intellectual exchange.

    In addition, your implication that women should cheerfully tolerate all the unwanted requests, no matter how inept or clueless, and only express irritation at persistence, ignores the fact that her experience of the conference is going to be short bursts of attention from a a series of men just checking to see if she’ll put out. She can get that for free at home by going to the laudomat.

  • Alex O’Cady

    In addition, your implication that women should cheerfully tolerate all the unwanted requests, no matter how inept or clueless, and only express irritation at persistence, ignores the fact that her experience of the conference is going to be short bursts of attention from a a series of men just checking to see if she’ll put out.

    I’m not in any way trying to imply that women should expect and welcome being propositioned. But to say that it’s inappropriate as a blanket rule is, in my opinion, extreme. I would suggest perhaps that a discussion on appropriate timing and methods might be helpful, as it seems Watson was doing in her original talk.

    What bothers me is the outrage that a man would dare show interest in a woman at all. I’m not saying this instance was appropriate; it was not smart, and it’s unfortunate that this man chose the time and place he did. But too many people seem to be implying that no man should ever show romantic or sexual interest in any way toward a woman at these conferences. There are good and bad ways to go about it, but it’s not inherently wrong.

  • crowepps

    I’m not in any way trying to imply that women should expect and welcome being propositioned.

    But apparently you are saying that it is unreasonable to tell the men that as a blanket rule women do not expect and do not welcome being propositioned.

    What bothers me is the outrage that a man would dare show interest in a woman at all.

    As I already said, most women don’t have a problem with ‘romantic interest’ arising out of a conversation, but that’s not what we’re talking about and it’s ingenuous of you to confuse them. The problem isn’t ‘showing interest’, it’s ASSUMING it’s acceptable to ask strange women for a casual bang.

    I must say, your blanket rule is a fascinating thought — an atmosphere like that which hopefully pertains at one’s work, where as a blanket rule it is considered inappropriate and a distraction from the purpose of the group to assume the women present are there as sex toys.

    If such a blanket rule on propositions for casual sex were instituted, and flirting and romance became necessary prerequisites to sex, would that seriously ruin the entire conference for the men present? Or do you and they insist that it can’t be a fun experience for the men unless those who wish to do so are ENTITLED to pester everyone present about their boners?

  • Dhorvath

    Alex,
    So show interest in women by having intelligent discussions with them about the topics of the conference. If there is reciprocal interest the conversation won’t need artificial pick up lines to continue. If you aren’t making conversation during social activities, don’t try and make up for it with private encounters.

  • Alex O’Cady

    But apparently you are saying that it is unreasonable to tell the men that as a blanket rule women do not expect and do not welcome being propositioned.

    So you’re saying that all women, all the time, are opposed to being propositioned? I know quite a few fellow women who would disagree.

    I wasn’t in the elevator, and neither was anyone else here. Thus far all I’ve heard of it is he asked her to his room for coffee. Yes, this was probably a thinly veiled proposition for sex…but do you know that? I don’t think anyone does except Watson and the man who spoke to her.

    Like I said, a civilized discourse about appropriate times and methods of flirting/propositioning/whatever would be immensely helpful. Instead, people resort to exaggeration and generalizations.

    I’ve pretty much said all I’m going to say on the topic. I’ve got more important things to worry about. But feel free to continue to misconstrue my intentions.

    And in the interest of complete clarity, I’ll point out again that I am a woman.

  • Zadius

    Yes, this was probably a thinly veiled proposition for sex…but do you know that?

    I’m not sure if anyone has pointed it out anywhere, but the fact that he used a euphemism is most likely an attempt to reduce the awkwardness of the situation. It’s an attempt to sound less forceful and give her an easier out, because she can say “no” and then they can both pretend they don’t know what just happened. I think this is important evidence in deciding which is the more likely explanation: that he made a faux pas, or that he is a sexist.

    Steven Pinker actually has a talk about why people use innuendo and euphemisms; in fact, he uses “would you like to come up and see my etchings” as an example.

  • crowepps

    What does your gender have to do with the discussion? Do you think women and men will necessarily see this differently?

    Why do we have to read anything into the interaction in the elevator other than what was reported? Why should we assume that the facts were different than as presented?

    Why do we have to give the benefit of the doubt to the motives of a man who at the least felt entitled to follow a woman with whom he had never exchanged a word into an elevator and ask her to come back to his room to be alone with him KNOWING she was likely to “take it the wrong way” but still dismissing any discomfort that might cause her? No matter what the reason for the invitation?

    On what basis do we shame and denigrate the motives of the woman who pointed out that was creepy? A woman who I would note protected the man in question by refraining from naming him because she was using the BEHAVIOR as an example to make a point and not trying to bash the person individually.

    The thing I find interesting is that, as a woman yourself, your own inclination is to take it for granted that there is LIKELY to be a reasonable explanation for his behavior because you apparently think the norm is that men are ENTITLED to ask for sexual contact with strangers, but you are skeptical of her motives because it is unreasonable of a woman to criticize a man.

    Which is exactly the kind of culturally imbeded sexism she was saying permits this behavior to continue.

  • vexorian

    Alex O’Cady : Define “ACTUAL sexism”. It seems to me it is inaccurate to say that the people complaining about sexism and misogyny are all complaining about elevator guy. Not even Watson called elevator guy sexist.

    There is, however, ACTUAL sexism in many of the reactions to it. What happened here is that Watson, in a manner of suggestion said that men should probably be more thoughtful before trying to make an advance. But the reaction to it seems to be pretty sexist to me because they seem to be based on a belief that it is ok for men to ask women out and that the women’ only right is the right to say no. That is the sort of sexism that is implicit in everyone complaining: “Big deal”. “at least we are not Muslims”. Etc.

    That it is such a given that men should be able to ask women for ‘coffee’ without any consideration about not making the woman uncomfortable sounds pretty much like ACTUAL sexism to me.

  • Larry Meredith

    I got to go with Team Elevator Guy.

    that Elevator Guy needs to start his own blog. His side of the story is the only one that hasn’t been told yet and clearly this story doesn’t have enough drama yet.

  • Brian Macker

    “I’m Team Dawkins/Elevator guy.”

    This.

  • AxeGrrl

    Lena wrote:

    Bringing up rape and misogyny IS relevant to the discussion,but that doesn’t mean that the elevator guy is being accused of rape and misogyny. It means that we live in a world where all kinds of sexist ideas are internalized, and, most often subconsciously, those ideas influence our actions and our responses to the actions of others. So when it comes to rape, while most women aren’t constantly thinking about getting raped, many of us do feel uncomfortable in certain situations, like a strange man following us in an elevator at 4 in the morning and asking us to go their room even though we had made it clear that we’re tired and want to go to bed. That man most likely didn’t have any nefarious intentions, but his actions still come across as creepy. Neither side is the bad guy. But for any men who might care about such things, Rebecca was letting you know that you shouldn’t do that because it would creepy out many women

    One of the fairest, most level-headed comments I’ve read about this entire thing…..

    Kudos :)

  • Brian Macker

    Harmless,

    “I’m imagining that the men around me think this is normal and acceptable, since each of the people propositioning me only asks once. That seems like no big deal to each of them, but it means I spend the weekend saying ‘no’ to creeps.”

    Why don’t you give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are nice guys. Why assume they are creeps? What are you underage or something? That would make them creeps. Why assume ever one of them is going to say “Want to fuck”. Some will ask you if you want to talk over coffee next weekend. Ultimately it is about fucking in the end however, even when “romance” or “monogamy” is involved. Even marry me is a proposition.

  • meko

    When I complained about men following my to my car after atheist meetups, people told me to get over it too (or to bring a male escort to avoid confusion). This is why I don’t go back.

    There are other places to socialize – classes, volunteering, political organizations, the arts. Why spend your time where people are just going to defend it if people “accidentally” touch you inappropriately or try to corner you?

    Sometimes when you volunteer at a soup kitchen, a mentally ill man will make an inappropriate or even scary statement, but the big difference is that the community will censure that behavior. In the atheist community (in my experience), the priority of protecting the potentially shy or awkward man who just wants to get laid is more important than a woman who wishes to defend her boundaries. It’s just the group norm.

    You have a choice – deal with the frustration of being touched and cornered while being called names for trying to change the group norm or leave.

  • Peter

    I want a Team Dawkins shirt

  • Andrew R

    The most infuriating responses to this entire deal have been like DarkSun’s sickening display. Something happens to make a woman uncomfortable, and when she speaks up about it, you have a group of people screaming “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MEN?!?! THEY’RE THE REAL VICTIM HERE!!!” and trying to silence the woman’s concern.

    What “Elevator Guy” did was creepy and inappropriate, but like a bunch of commenters have said, it’s likely he was just socially awkward and didn’t consider how threatening that situation could be perceived. I can certainly sympathize with the socially awkward part. But that’s the real lesson here: he and I, and most other men, don’t generally have to consider being assaulted from such an encounter, and this can lead us to forget how it might be perceived by a woman in the same situation. That is the very definition of male privilege, and that should be the lesson here. But instead too many other men are trying to silence women and make themselves the victim somehow.

    Sadly this happens every time women express concerns about sexism. The women are painted as over-reacting, hysterical, emotional, man-hating feminist misandrists who are just trying to neuter men’s natural urges.

    I don’t agree with Hemant that we need to stop talking about it, or stop giving a shit. That such a relatively minor expression of concern turned into such a “shitstorm” means that we should KEEP talking about it, because this is something we need to sort out as a community.

  • AnonyMouse

    Yet another woman who is a long-time reader of atheist blogs, but would not go to an in-person meeting. Thanks, but no thanks. And that is why this matters. It makes many women not want to come out, not want to be part of the atheist community.

    Maybe those of you who think this is peachy should consider whether losing the women in the community is worth the ability to randomly proposition strangers at 4am. (And if you think that’s the effective to get a woman to have sex with you, you’ve got another think coming.)

    For what it’s worth, I think Elevator Guy was insensitive, but not sexist or misogynist, or evil. Rebecca Watson felt uncomfortable, measured in her response, and was using this as evidence in making her main argument that this type of behavior drives away women from the atheist community. The many men and women who responded to her with sarcasm, and often yes, misogyny, are the problem. When responses say things like “It was just words, she has no right to complain,” and “if we can’t hit on women anywhere and any time we please, the species will die out,” we have a problem.

  • Lyra

    I am so deeply, incredibly, and profoundly exhausted by this. This shouldn’t have been a big deal. It should have consisted entirely of something like this: Guy gets in elevator with girl. Guy hits on girl. Girl is creeped out. Girl refuses. Girl talks about the incident for MAYBE 15 seconds in an 8 minute video. People think a bit, and it’s done. In the end, no big deal.

    But no. Instead, I find myself arguing and arguing and arguing with men who INSIST that either a) she had no right be creeped out b) she had no right to say anything about being creeped out. “Overreaction!” they shout, “overreaction!” And I am disheartened. My sister was raped by a man she knew who was walking her home after dark. My best friend was raped by her cousin in her own home. I was sexually abused by my father. Rape is a very real part of women’s lives. The idea that we have no right to have or speak about an emotional response that stems from this reality is appalling. Men can go on long tangents about women “overreacting” once they have stopped rape, and not before. Until then, please respect us when we tell you we are afraid, uncomfortable, or creeped out even if you don’t understand it.

  • crowepps

    Why don’t you give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are nice guys. Why assume they are creeps?

    Nice guys wouldn’t proposition her. Since they are propositioning her they have provided proof themselves that they are creeps.

  • Baconsbud

    I have been reading some of the comments on this and the other post about this. I believe there has been way more reaction to this then there needs to be. When I was younger I probably would have been the guy in the elevator. I wouldn’t have seen it as something creepy and hell I don’t see it as anything creepy now. When I was younger I would have done it because there might have been a chance of sex and being younger I wouldn’t have been doing much thinking with the big head. I was also a lot more shy when I was younger and had a hard time exposing myself to being turned down in front of other people. If I was to ask today it would actually be for coffee and conversation.

    I think there isn’t really enough information to say one way or another what this guy was wanting. The people who have decided he was a creep scare me almost as much as real creeps do. Some of the best times I have had without sex have been times where I just walked up to complete strangers and started a conversation. The people who are trying to defend him are forgetting that we live in a society that makes sex the most important thing to many guys. This also scares me just not quite as much as those making the assumption that he was a creep.

    Has anyone asked the question how would she have reacted had this been a stranger she found attractive? I have seen both males and females who were about to fall asleep, wake right up when they became attracted to someone. Was she creeped out because she wasn’t attracted to him? I know I have gotten reactions like this even when it was in a public area. Yes I’m not an attractive male so I actually have to work harder to find females who are actually not focused just on looks but on conversation. Everyone really does need to look at themselves and ask why they are over reacting to this.

  • Jack Rawlinson

    Everyone is overreacting, but Watson started it, and reaped the predictable result.

    There’s a very thoughtful, considered and sane post under Watson’s latest round of self-justification, from a one-time RD.net poster who goes under the handle of Lord Pasternack. I recommend it.

    The sad irony is that Watson and her supporters have really done the feminist cause no favours at all with this. Instead of supporting and enabling strength in women they’re taking the line of “It’s all about the male attititudes. It’s all their fault. They’re the only ones who need to change.” This makes them – and consequently women – look weak. Old-school feminists had a bit more backbone than this, and I know a lot of old-school feminists – including my partner – who have looked at this nonsense and said some very uncomplimentary things indeed about Watson. Believe me, it isn’t just men who think she’s wrong on this… oh, sorry, I mean “who don’t get it.”

    That’s another thing: repeating the mantra “You just don’t get it” is not an argument, it is a lazy refusal to grapple with dissenting opinion, and as such it is deeply unimpressive coming from a bunch of folk who like to claim they are rationalists. And the way Watson’s supporters have been banging on about “white male privilege” is nauseating, not least because it smacks of racism. Do black men not proposition women in elevators, then? Do black men never display sexism based on an ingrained sense of male entitlement? The “WMP” mantra is profoundly creepy, and I wish those chanting it would think a bit before doing so.

    Anyway, I’m on team Stef. So there.

  • rose

    I have to say – I’ve just spent a good hour reading through various blogposts and comments about this, and I’ve got to be honest, at least as far as I can see the vast majority are completely overreacting.

    Yes, the elevator guy was a bit inappropriate, yes, I can imagine it being an uncomfortable situation to be in and no, there was nothing wrong with the segment of the video in which Rebecca calls him out on it. Note that she never says that men propositioning women are always wrong, or inappropriate: her exact words are that “I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4am, in a hotel elevator with you, just you, and—don’t invite me back to your hotel room, right after I’ve finished talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable”.

    Fair enough. I’d like to be clear that I absolutely agree with this: I’ve been propositioned in similar places before, unexpectedly. It is uncomfortable.

    That said, what I don’t agree with is this suggestion that any man who ever propositions a woman, in whatever place, couched in whatever terms, is necessarily wrong to do so. I think that’s just as depressing a statement to read as its opposite.

    By all means pick your moments (and a hotel elevator at 4am isn’t a great one) but I think sometimes even a rebuffed proposition can be a good thing. I was once propositioned, turned the guy down, and ended up becoming good friends with him – in a way we never would have been able to had we not (both!) made our intentions clear to begin with. And I can’t imagine I’m the only one. Not being able to acknowledge that there might be sexual attraction between two people is just as unhealthy an idea as not being able to acknowledge that there might not. And, if you think that is the case, surely it’s better – and healthier – to ask, thus allowing both parties a fuller understanding of each other’s motivations?

    Or have we genuinely reached such a breakdown between the sexes that we can’t see where each other is coming from? If that’s what’s going on here, count me out.

  • Maxwell Albritten

    I’m on team “I don’t give a sh*t”. I don’t give any sh*ts about women or rape either.

    I am, however, also on team “Guys, let’s all be super creepy whenever a lady walks in the room!” It generally works out.

  • Brian Macker

    “Nice guys wouldn’t proposition her. Since they are propositioning her they have provided proof themselves that they are creeps.”

    Bullshit. It takes more than propositioning to make a guy creepy. What were his motives? It’s quite possible he was genuinely interested in what she had to say in addition to being attracted to her.

    I’m pretty sure the problem was that he was not very attractive to her. Had some attractive guy stayed up till 4 in the morning to listen to her preach, and then asked for an extra dose in her room I’m sure she would not have found it creepy. In fact she would have been flattered.

    If he was just out for a quicky he probably misjudged how liberated she was. Apparently she’s not like those two feminist women who shacked up with Julian Assange on their first encounter.

    If it’s perfectly legitimate for women to approach speakers, rock stars, and sports players for sex, then the door swings both ways.

    … and yes there is the possibility of a creepy female stalker.

    That is unless you are saying that there are innate differences between men and women, but that kinda blows a hole in the parts of the fundamentalist feminist agenda.

  • Brian Macker

    Jack Rolinson,

    A commenter “K0ilar” also made a quite sane comment on this whole “objectifying” nonsense. What he doesn’t understand is that the whole point of defining objectification the way they do for some of these feminists is to make being male a crime. What I found particularly annoying was Watson using the incident as an example of objectification. No you irrational idiot.

    Feminists seek a world of rules that would intolerable for either of the sexes, and it goes for all of the PC crowd nonsense.

    I quote that comment here:

    Thank you so much for trying and upholding some reason in a discussion that blew way out of proportion. What I however missed in your response is the point that irritates me the most in what Rebecca said in her initial Video and repeated here, namely the use of the verb “to objectify”. The way I understand this verb it describes a situation where a person is trying to use another as a mere object, a tool of sort to whatever end, instead of acknowledging their persona. Women are objectified when they are seen as (male-)offspring production facilities. You could also argue that objectification occurs when their body is used in order to sell a product or in pornography, although those women consent to that for money, whether you object to that or not. Now merely propositioning to someone does nothing of the like and let me explain why: Inviting someone “for coffee”, if it is done in a none threatening way (and this guy did his best to not seem threatening, however clumsily, given the surroundings), makes one statement and asks one question.
    Statement: “I am attracted to you and would like to get intimate with you in order for us to exchange pleasures.”
    Question: “Do you feel the same way?”
    I don’t see how there’s objectification involved in this, I cannot see it in any other way than as the offer of a “hedonistic contract” with the other party being left with all the power to decide whether to accept or decline that offer, thus taking it (I am being specifically gender neutral here on purpose) at full value as a rational human being.
    This, in my book, is the rational way to view a proposition, leaving out possibilities like the one that this man could have been a big fan of Rebecca and admired her for her intellect as well as her physique or might have been genuinely in love with her, again possibly for what she says rather than what she looks like. Would those facts have changed anything? I don’t think so…

    K0ilar

    PS.: About making the first move: If everybody waits for everybody to make the first move, no moves are made and lots of potential joy are never to happen, thus making the world a little colder

  • http://zergu-si-credinta.blogspot.com/ zergu

    I am baffled by this line “Everyone is overreacting. All of you. (Yes, you too.)” since I am in the „Team I Don’t Give a S*it”.

    Am I exagerating with my non-shit-giving. Should I be extreeme? Should I bomb somebody?

    Seriously, I hate atheist drama.

  • Roger

    This shitstorm in a teacup has been quite a wake-up call. I read Pharyngula for entertainment, occasionally Friendly Atheist and Dispatches from the Culture Wars. The level of maturity on both sides of this ‘debate’ has shattered some of my illusions.

    I am an atheist.

    I am not a member of the ‘atheist community’.

    I shall not become one.

  • 0verlord

    Seriously, I hate atheist drama.

    If only one could eat atheist drama, we could eliminate hunger. It may leave a bitter aftertaste, but unlike my patience and optimism, it is never in short supply.

  • S_seema91

    Funny, no-one has actually checked out a few basic facts.

    Such as the fact that by law all bars in Ireland must close by 11:30pm, 4.5 hours prior to “Elevatorgate”.  And the hotel bar actually closed at 11pm.  So what was RW REALLY doing from then until 4am?  Drinking, as she claims?  If so, how?  Or perhaps partying elsewhere?  (She is perfectly entitled to, but she should also not then pretend she wasn’t for effect.)

    And that her talk finished by 6:30pm the previous evening, 9.5 hours prior to “Elevatorgate”.  So we have only RW’s word Elevator Guy was “from the conference” and knew what she spoke about.  In reality he could have been anyone, even hotel staff.

    So if RW was really doing the 4am sneak back to her room with her shoes in her hand, it would seem much more likely Elevator Guy was actually trying to be a Good Samaritan.

    Also the hotel is only 5 stories tall, so the elevator would have opened again within 10 seconds (you can time it yourself).  And there’s the CCTV as well.  So a threat of rape?  You’d have to be a rabbit!

    I don’t think everything actually happened as we have been told…


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