That Banana Freaks Me Out…

Note to self: Don’t step inside an elevator. Nothing good will ever come of it.

(via Atheist Cartoons)

  • Jethrop

    Perfect response to this whole brew-ha-ha.

    People need to calm down. There are WAY too many egos and hurt feelings tied up in discussing this isolated incident.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com Yet Another Atheist

    Hahahaha! Yeah, see how you like it, Mr. Dawkins. It’s not that big a deal, right?

    Sorry, but his thoughts on the matter were kind of ignorant. I believe that’s the first time I’ve said that about something that Richard Dawkins said. Well, there’s always a first time for everything.

  • sailor

    Yes, let us leave this subject with a laugh!

  • NotYou007

    And what is he going to do with that banana?

  • mthrnite

    Milk it baby! Let’s get some page views!

  • Chyrch

    Yeah, that’s exactly how it happened … not exaggerated at all.

  • Greg

    I don’t get it.

    No… don’t bother trying to explain it, I probably don’t want to know.

  • Chris

    Why are people still talking about this? Boring. Move on.

  • http://onefuriousllama.com One Furious Llama

    @Greg no… you don’t want to know…

    Who is the dude propositioning Mr. Dawkins there? I hope it’s Ken Ham.

  • Chris aka “Happy Cat

    Is that supposed to be Ray Comfort? Sure looks like him.

    Our Lady of the Intelligently Designed Banana.

  • http://infophilia.blogspot.com infophile

    It could do with a reference to chewing gum, but quite funny nonetheless.

  • http://alabamatheist.blogspot.com/ Tim D.

    Who is the dude propositioning Mr. Dawkins there? I hope it’s Ken Ham.

    Seems like it’s supposed to be Ray Comfort. Maybe?

  • Lena

    So instead of addressing any of the comments made to your three posts about a topic your sick of reading about, your just going to dismiss anyone who challenges your way of thinking.

    Got it.

  • Jethrop

    For those who have been smart enough to avoid this whole controversy, the comic is in reference to the poor analogy PZ used to try to explain why Watson’s situation was so bad.

    PZ Myers:

    I’m taking one last stab at explaining this. Imagine that Richard Dawkins meets a particularly persistent fan who insists on standing uncomfortably close to him, and Richard asks him to stand back a little bit; when he continues, he says to the rest of the crowd that that is rather rude behavior, and could everyone give him a little breathing space? Which then leads to many members of the crowd loudly defending the rudeness by declaring that since the guy wasn’t assaulting him, he should be allowed to keep doing that, and hey, how dare Richard Dawkins accuse everyone present of trying to mug him!

    That’s exactly analogous to Rebecca Watson’s situation. …

    Apparently for PZ, “exactly analogous” means not analogous at all.

  • El Bastardo

    I LOL’ed

    Cause talking to a lady is sexist, that’s why on the interwebs all day.

  • Mary

    Don’t be a CREEP in an elevator. Nothing good will come of it. That’s what you should be learning here. Also, don’t proposition a woman who has just spent hours and hours explaining that she’s tired of being sexualized. Oh, I forgot. Women at your conferences are just there to screw you and have your babies, not for you to actually listen to. That seems to be what I’m learning through all this.

  • Chris aka “Happy Cat

    @Lena

    Forgive me jumping to your defense, Hemant, but…

    I think Hemant put forward his views honestly. He gave his general appraisal and opinions based on his thinking on the matter. He took no side and called people out where he felt necessary.

    He didn’t hide that he thinks different parties involved made valid points as well as excised questionable judgment. I felt his voice was reasonable and he tried not to take sides. We’re not always going to agree on the fine points **cough church vandalism cough**, but I fail to see the big problem here.

    Important, complex issues exist, but the raw nerves here and elsewhere on the blogosphere make it less than productive at this point. Playing out a heated drama Ad nausium over one minor incident is pointless. A little humor helps to cut the tension. Most of us are the good guys and women trying to keep a balanced perspective. Not a bad thing.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    Hilarious comic.

  • NotYou007

    For those who have been smart enough to avoid this whole controversy, the comic is in reference to the poor analogy PZ used to try to explain why Watson’s situation was so bad.

    Well seems I have been one of the smart ones and thank you for explaining it. I thought it was some weird Kirk Cameron banana reference.

  • NewEnglandBob

    Go back to “Everyone just shut the fuck up”.

  • tylers65

    Having finally proven all dieties to be false for once and for all, the atheist community now has time to focus on hard hitting social issues such as the cure for… wait err… world hun… sorry, um… homelessness… no… oh yeah, some creepy dude in an elevator at a convention. Now that I know the entire Atheist community has directed their full attention to this, I can rest easier tonight knowing that the next time I get into an elevator with a creepy person, the entire Atheist world will BLOG about it!!!!

    So lame that this incident cannot be let go of. By continuously blogging about it, you are feeding into it and perpetuating it. If no one would have paid attention in the first place, it never would have escalated to the point that it did. Just another reason I dislike church. You get a group together and there is bound to be some drama that has nothing to do with the venue or reason for gathering.

  • mthrnite

    The cartoon isn’t very funny, but at least it’s poorly drawn :)

  • TychaBrahe

    I read a book once called Women in Arabic Society that talked about how Muslim men viewed Western women. Western women had sexual liberation, these men thought, so they were available for sex at any time, to any one. Sexual freedom to them means the right to have sex. That a woman might choose not to have sex, and have the right to reject a potential partner, was not considered. Arabic men, denied legitimate sex outside of marriage, cannot conceive of the possibility that one would not have sex if one could.

    Many atheist leaders have questioned why women are not more outspoken in the atheist community, why they do not attend atheist conferences, and yet when women talk about how they feel at conferences, they are ignored. Many women have expressed that some atheist men seem to think that a woman freed from the constraints of religious prohibitions against sex outside of marriage are freely available for the asking.

    Robin Morgan, in her essay Goodbye to All That expressed her horror that when the revolutionaries of the 60s were lauding the benefits of the revolution, they grouped access to women’s bodies among them:

    Goodbye to the Weather Vain, with the Stanley Kowalski image and theory of free sexuality but practice of sex on demand for males….

    Was it my brother who listed human beings among the objects that would be easily available after the Revolution: Free grass, free food, free women, free acid, free clothes, etc.?

    http://blog.fair-use.org/2007/09/29/goodbye-to-all-that-by-robin-morgan-1970/#rm-gtat-p18

    OK, so maybe you aren’t like that. Maybe you aren’t being heavy handed, treating access to the women who show up at conferences as your right, their lack of interest is just their being coy. But when a woman says, “Hey, this happened, and it bothered me, and it made me uncomfortable and unlikely to come back,” do you say, “It can’t possibly be like that,” or do you work with women to help create an environment where women feel safe, too? Because the intimidation is a big problem. But the hundreds of men saying, “What women think is a problem is boring. What women are concerned about is not worth wasting my time on,” your attitude is a worse problem.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com Yet Another Atheist

    Anyone who doesn’t see anything wrong with propositioning a woman alone in an elevator with no immediate exit, at 4 in the morning, when he had hours and hours to do so in a public space, really needs to figure out what the hell is wrong with them.

  • tylers65

    So this entire community of “free thinkers” cannot seem to think of a solution to this issue. Rather than find a way to make this woman (and any others) feel safer, the community puts its collective thinking caps on and gets into a debate about if the woman in question is right to feel or think a certain way. Which if memory serves is exactly what drove many of us away from church and religion in the first place. Apparently hypocricy is not reserved for the religious.

  • rabrav

    loving the elevator debate.

    It seems to be bringing out the real “us” in all of us, which will turn out to be a good introspection exercise.

    For a week, I was bored by the discussions on this topic. Then, yesterday, I came across this in Shermer’s book, “why we believe weird things”:

    ‘”Do not judge your fellow until you are in his position” ‘


    So, we can all debate endlessly on this incident, which is good, coz we gotta have a Revaluation of Values…..

    lets not judge Rebecca or the elevator guy in this particular incident. I’d rather debate on it as a “thought experiment scenario”

  • Nakor

    I just don’t get what anyone expects us to do or how they expect us to react. Yes, the guy was probably a lot less than suave. Sure. And in that situation, she was a bit creeped out. Fine. I just don’t get anything after that.

    It’s not like we can forbid men from asking women out. What he did is protected by free speech. Love it or hate it, he had as much right to ask as the Westboro Baptist Church has to say their bit, and they’re far worse than this guy. Saying “oh, you’re right, we must stop such from happening” would be just so many empty words.

    Is it just that you want to hear others screaming that he’s a creeper? If that’s the reaction you expect, then no; I really don’t find getting worked up into a frenzy about something over which I’ve no control terribly helpful. And, in this particular case, clearly it’s debatable whether or not it’s even true… though both sides’ primary argument in the debate seems to be that it isn’t debatable. Anyway, I’m certainly not going to call out a stranger in a case where I haven’t got all the facts.

    So I just don’t get it. Clearly a lot of people are expecting something from everyone regarding all this, probably something from me too, but for the life of me I can’t tell what. I don’t know; maybe those who are all so irate aren’t sure either.

  • Mary

    Thank you, Tycha! You said exactly what I have been thinking in a way I’ve been too pissed off to say. Above and beyond the creepy elevator guy, I have been just floored by the responses by atheists in the blogs who have just been so incredibly insulting and dismissive of a woman’s very simple statement that she would like not to be hit on. How DARE we not want to be hit on! I’ve read comments in which guys are saying they have the RIGHT to hit on women even when they’ve asked to be left alone! Well, sure. They have the right to be verbally obnoxious. And Watson and others have the right to blog about how obnoxious they are.

    I go to conferences for the intellectual simulation and not the other kind, but it’s none of my business if other people go there to hook up. But seriously, is that all you guys think we are? Just something for you to hit on? And for the ones saying that this discussion is boring — did it ever occur to you that perhaps there are people in the world who have had different experiences than you and that perhaps you could listen to and learn from those people? That’s all Watson was doing. She was saying, hey, this is creepy and gross. Please knock it off. Instead of listening to her there are people asking for all the women to please STFU now. Thank you, Apostle Paul(s). But I suppose conversations like this are boring to people who have the privilege of not caring. Lucky you.

  • Sin

    Going up to a woman who doesn’t know you and saying in essence “wanna fuck” doesn’t demonstrate an appreciation of that person’s intellect, personality or regard for them as an individual. Nor are you appreciating her or asking the woman to appreciate you as anything other than a convenient source of sexual gratification.

    Sometimes people are up for random sex with strangers. I go to a bar and look for guys who are reasonably attractive, when I want to have sex with someone I don’t know and probably won’t meet again. It requires no mutual respect. It is objectifying for both parties. It is also perfectly fine if that’s what everyone signalled they were looking for.

    However if your intention was to demonstrate how much you respected someone intellectually or as a individual, you would not do so by first propositioning them for sex. And to proposition someone who had made it clear they were uninterested and disliked being sexualised, is disrespectful. It was not rape, not assault, not the worst possible act a person could commit, but it was disrespectful of RW and what she had clearly stated were her preferences and wishes.

    EG may or may not have been aware of RW’s statements. But if he was aware, the mentality that would underpin a proposition in spite of the knowledge would be along the lines of “I want to fuck. It doesn’t hurt to give it a shot without even trying to get to know her first, she might be up for it. And all I’d lose is her respect. And potetial benefits to my dick > her opinions of me.”

    RW simply asked for greater situational awareness. A vocal group then informed her she had no right to her opinions, no right to ask that her preferences be respected when something involved her, and no right to hold the desire to not be sexualised.

    Women don’t all go to atheist conferences to have random objectifying sex. If a person makes it clear they are not interested, to proposition them anyway is disrespectful. To bombard them with a barrage of ‘hysteria’ and ‘feminazi’ and ‘you have no right to complain’ when they obect, however, is far worse.

  • Lena

    Is it just that you want to hear others screaming that he’s a creeper?

    No, that’s not what we want. And if that’s what you think the problem is, there’s clearly no point in this discussion.

  • http://Idon'thaveone Linke

    @Mary

    First of all: yes. Guys have the right to be verbally obnoxious. Yes, Watson and others have the right to blog about how obnoxious they are. Yes, other people have the right to claim Watson is overreacting and yes, people have the right not to give a flying fuck. So don’t bring rights into this matter, for it is completely irrelevant. We all have the right to say what we want, no matter how offended other people might be. Bottom line, people have the right to be jerks.

    Secondly, a “jerk” is a very subjective concept. Of course some things are generally conceived as regular douchebaggery, but others aren’t that easily defined. My point is that what makes you so amazingly outraged is the fact that some people are dismissive about something YOU consider to be important. Again, people have the right to differ. That brings me to your own sentence:

    But seriously, is that all you guys think we are? Just something for you to hit on? And for the ones saying that this discussion is boring — did it ever occur to you that perhaps there are people in the world who have had different experiences than you and that perhaps you could listen to and learn from those people?

    Can’t you possibly conceive the idea that the elevator guy didn’t see anything wrong in what he was doing? Can’t you consider that maybe (just maybe) he was really interested in talking (and yeah, maybe getting involved) with a girl and was perhaps too shy to do it before? I’m aware these are all flimsy hyphothesis, but it goes to show that you’re not open-minded towards any explanation different than yours.

    I do understand why Watson would be upset and irritated, and I do agree that overall offensive masculine behaviour should be discussed, but I find it hard to argue concisely with any woman that thinks every man is an evil, aggressive mastermind of sexual depravation. Even if that man WAS in fact looking for a one-night-stand, that doesn’t mean he thinks women should be slaves and that his penis should be crowned as a supreme ruler.

    On that note, it amazes me that women have actually brought up the rape card to that discussion. Seriously, what the fuck? Rape is a VERY serious matter and should DEFINITELY be taken into consideration, but for a guy hitting on a girl in an elevator? That’s like playing the Nazi card on your first school teacher.

    Also, no one (at least not that I’ve seen here on in any other blog) said women are objects, that women are nothing more than “something for men to hit on” and nobody told women to shut the fuck up. Hement told EVERYONE to shut the fuck up.
    Bottom line, I don’t think anyone should shut the fuck up, but you all gotta calm the fuck down.

    Hope I didn’t offend you in any way here.
    p.s.: that’s not a sarcastic comment, I did try to not offend you and english is not my first language so that can be kind of hard.

  • Steve

    She was saying, hey, this is creepy and gross. Please knock it off. Instead of listening to her there are people asking for all the women to please STFU now.

    And 95% of the women painted the guy – and by extension and very deliberately all men – as a predator and would-be rapist

    Everyone fucked this up and “your” side certainly isn’t blameless. Watson is directly responsible for letting this get out of control in the first place instead of confining it to the video that started it. If that had been the case, yeah then it probably would have remained advise to not hit on people in certain situations

  • Nakor

    @Lena: Because that’s productive and helpful. Or something.

    And that’s 90% of what I’ve heard. “Don’t already get it? Then you won’t, so shut up.” Or other sorts of conversation enders, usually condescending, often insulting.

    In which case, of course I won’t, because nobody actually wants to talk about it, they all just want to beat their chests.

    If this keeps up, ‘misogynist’ and other similar terms are going to end up becoming the Godwin’s Law of the atheist community and lose all meaning. Which is sad, because there’s still a whole lot of actual misogynists out there while we’re busy ragging such insults on each other.

    The point is, if you want people to understand your side, insulting them seems like a rather poor place to begin.

  • Durr Hurr

    Don’t we have anything more important to talk about and/or get extremely angry and worked up about?

    Also: LOL!

  • Benoit

    I love how this is being discussed from all sides, angles and vertices. Despite one of our high priests admonishing us to STFU already.

    Atheism is a religion, indeed… lol.

  • http://Idon'thaveone Linke

    @Benoit

    So we should all be silent just because someone told us to be silent? You might be in the wrong place.

  • Lynne

    What those who are saying that the incident in the elevator was no big deal don’t seen to get is that there was no way for Watson to know that it wouldn’t turn into a big deal. That’s the reason it was creepy – that it had the potential to spiral out of control – just because it didn’t doesn’t make it less creepy. This is something that most women are intuitively aware of: the potential to find oneself in a dangerous position.

  • http://Idon'thaveone Linke

    @Lynne

    Though I understand what you’re saying, it doesn’t make much sense if you really think about it. If that was a reasonable line of thought, we’d be sweating in panic every time someone approached to ask us the time, since that could be just a clever scheme to steal your wristwatch, your money and your dignitiy. Or maybe whenever someone gets our change wrong at a convenience store, that would inevitably get us thinking about the international complex conspiracy to rob you of your hard-earned cash.

    It’s okay to feel uncomfortable and to explain why it is uncomfortable. It’s not that okay to take an otherwise simple matter and turn it into a huge blob of freakout.

  • Roxane

    I believe in reducing things to their lowest common denominator. Which is, in this case, bad manners happened in an elevator. Can’t we all write it off to experience?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Just want to clarify — I never said STFU. I just said people should calm (TF) down.

    I don’t think most of us are disputing the big issues here.

    Elevator Guy put Rebecca in an awkward situation and he should have known better than to do that. He’s not necessarily a rapist or sexist, but he’s definitely ignorant.

    The fact that some women and men don’t see this as a *HUGE* deal doesn’t make them stupid or misogynistic or anti-women. But I hope everyone at least recognizes the way situations like this *could* escalate (in worst-case scenarios).

    No one saying you can’t flirt with women. But understand that if your flirtation isn’t returned, the thinking on the other side may not just be “I’m not interested.” It might be “I’ve had guys hit on me (or a friend) like this before and it ended badly.”

    We ought to be cognizant of that.

  • Larry Meredith

    I always proposition in an elevator. I don’t ask if they want coffee or something though. I just straight up ask if they want sex. Then I lift my shirt and start pinching my nipples.

  • Steve

    @Lynne
    Yes, it was creepy. But that’s all it was. It still doesn’t justify all this silly drama

    I think most people who say that it wasn’t such a big deal mean that in relation to all the reactions. Not necessarily in absolutes.

  • Lena

    And that’s 90% of what I’ve heard. “Don’t already get it? Then you won’t, so shut up.” Or other sorts of conversation enders, usually condescending, often insulting.

    But there have been post upon post on this site alone already explaining it and you and others are still making these hyperbolic statements, so you’re either ignoring those comments because they either don’t fit in with the way you want to see the world or you don’t understand what we’re saying. Let me try to sum things up from my perspective:

    -Rebecca presents a talk about sexism in atheism. She hangs out with a bunch of other people at the bar afterwards until 4am, where she then announces that she’s tired and going to bed.

    -Man she doesn’t know and hasn’t interacted with at all follows her into the elevator, compliments her on her talk, and invites her to his room for coffee. She says no. She then posts a video where among several other things she mentions the encounter, explaining that it was kind of creepy and suggesting that men not do that.

    -A whole bunch of bullshit ensues when another woman disagrees with Rebecca’s take and Rebecca calls her out in public. (I actually agree that calling her out in the way she did was messed up). The two arguments merge so now people who are all up in arms about the call out decide to go on and on about the evil femi-nazis.

    Here’s the thing, at no point did Rebecca imply that this:

    Can’t you possibly conceive the idea that the elevator guy didn’t see anything wrong in what he was doing? Can’t you consider that maybe (just maybe) he was really interested in talking (and yeah, maybe getting involved) with a girl and was perhaps too shy to do it before?

    isn’t possible. I, for one, believe that that’s most likely the case, based on what Rebecca described. But, you see, even if we were telepathic and knew for a fact that the guy had nothing but good intentions, it doesn’t change the argument at all. This isn’t about that individual, it’s about the way the world in general views women, and how those views have been internalized to such an extent that a man doesn’t think twice about approaching a woman under those circumstances. Rebecca used her experience with that guy as a jumping off point to discuss a larger issue. Why is it okay to just randomly approach women that way when she’s made no indication that she would be interested in that kind of advance? Why is okay to risk offending/frightening/pissing off a woman on the off chance that you might get laid?

    And no, that doesn’t mean that I think all men are potential rapists. I also don’t think all people are potential thieves, but I still lock my doors and keep my purse close to me when out in public.

  • ewan

    No one saying you can’t flirt with women.

    Some people are though; that’s the problem. There’s this idea that taking no for an answer isn’t enough – if the answer’s going to be no then even asking the question in the first place is offensive.

    The original incident seems like a minor enough problem, and the response fairly reasonable. You could even look at RW’s ‘complaint’ as friendly advice. However, the entrenching of positions all round afterwards has led to a lot of people saying a lot of very silly things.

  • Name withheld because of personal details

    To all the women speaking of how the men are saying they had no right to feel concerned:

    Really? I’ve heard a few jerks, but most guys seem to understand the elevator guy was a jerk or at least misguided in his actions. Some women’s reactions have been overblown, ignoring any attempt to bring some perspective instead of outrage. IMO, the people originally involved made bad decisions, and some commentors felt compelled to take sides.

    I’ve seen few comments from men contending there is no problem with unwanted attention. They just resent the automatic demonization of Elevator Asshat. Sure there is a problem, but flinging loaded terms like sexist, misogynistic, etc at someone putting forward a different POV isn’t warranted.
    People try to explain there are several sides to this story and provide balance, but then someone follows with “all the men are saying being creepy is ok.”

    I’ve come to the conclusion that there are misogynist atheists, but lately I’ve cocluded there are a lot of fiercely zealous uber-feminists out there who are set on feeling wronged and victimized.

    And just because I’m sick of hearing “men just don’t understand”, “confined spaces” etc:

    I was molested at 13.
    I’ve been gay bashed twice.
    At 22, I was drugged with Xanax and raped after i passed out.
    A couple of years later I was forcibly restrained, assaulted and had a 3/4″ thick wooden paddle brush broken over my ass as I struggled, cried and pleaded to get away.

    People can be be really bad to one another. Others can just be unintentionally inappropriate.
    So I’m sorry if I don’t see the outrage of this entire situation.

  • http://Idon'thaveone Linke

    @Lena

    Great reply! I actually agree with 99% of everything you said there. And by the way, my post was an answer to someone else. I’m well aware that Watson didn’t say or imply what I wrote.
    That’s exactly my point. People (myself included) are no longer discussing what happened, but what COULD HAPPEN or WHY IT HAPPENED. Maybe these are things that SHOULD be discussed, but in a more organized fashion.

    The only thing I disagree though is the implied notion that it is not okay to approach a woman, even if she made no sign that she’d be interested. Mainly because women aren’t exactly the easiest thing to read, and men aren’t usually the keenest of creatures when it comes to finding a potential partner. So maybe he thought she was open to a proposal, or something like that. Of course it might be very uncomfortable or offensive for the woman, but it’s a very easy-to-handle situation.

    My own personal example is one particular avenue in my hometown that is crowded by transvestite prostitutes. Some of those guys are really really tall and strong, and every day I take that route by foot to and from work. On a daily basis they propose absurd things and show parts of their bodies I never asked to see. Though I understand many might be offended by that, I just laugh it off and say “no, thanks”. I know it’s not the same thing, but still. The situation itself is easily solved.

  • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    tylers65 said:

    So this entire community of “free thinkers” cannot seem to think of a solution to this issue. Rather than find a way to make this woman (and any others) feel safer, the community puts its collective thinking caps on and gets into a debate about if the woman in question is right to feel or think a certain way. Which if memory serves is exactly what drove many of us away from church and religion in the first place. Apparently hypocricy is not reserved for the religious.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I just read this as “unless freethinkers all think the same way, we’re hypocrites.”

    You see that ‘free’ part of the word ‘freethinker’? It’s not just for show. Freethinkers are free to disagree, even if disagreeing means looking like an asshole from time to time.

  • L. Foster

    What I’m (unfortunately) taking away from this whole to-do:

    Don’t go alone to an atheist conference.

  • Larry Meredith

    @L. Foster

    Unless you’re a man who wants to try your luck at some hot feminist sex in a hotel room at 4am.

  • Nakor

    @Lena: See, I wish you’d replied like that the first time. I’m aware there has been the occasional decent post on this, but they just become buried in all the negative rhetoric and it’s hard to piece them together. If I grew frustrated at all by this, it is because answers like your first reply to me are far, far more common than ones such as this second reply.

    I guess the idea is that what people seem to want from others is a discussion — but it just doesn’t feel like that’s what’s being offered (by either side) for the most part. Rather, the anger has just been so strong that everyone is yelling and nobody listening, and it got to the point where it seemed neither side wanted to hear what you had to say, unless it was utter agreement.

    If we are to discuss your questions (that is: Why is it okay to just randomly approach women that way when she’s made no indication that she would be interested in that kind of advance? Why is okay to risk offending/frightening/pissing off a woman on the off chance that you might get laid?) then I think there’s two things to be considered.

    First is in general (that is, not at 4am in an elevator, but in any general scenario). In that case, I would have to suggest that just because a person (man or woman) hasn’t explicitly indicated interest doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It is different from expressing disinterest. In this scenario, the general one, it has to be okay to take the risk, because if it weren’t, then nobody would ever ask anyone out. Someone has to be first to show interest, after all.

    (An aside: I do not think it should be seen as significantly different for a woman to show interest first than for a man to. How interest is shown, of course, matters more. Walking up to someone and asking for sex is about as crude as it gets. Walking up to someone — again, I’m speaking of a general situation, not alone in an elevator at 4am — and (just) offering to buy them a coffee would be better. Just starting a conversation would likely be better yet. What this guy did was probably somewhere between the first two, but I suspect that it was the situation more than the approach that was the problem there, albeit the latter was hardly perfect either. To which point…)

    Second is the specific situation at hand (that is, of course, at 4am, alone in an elevator). I think most people agreed that showing interest in this situation is in poor taste. Of course, the only control we have over this is whether we do it ourselves. I am not sure there is much more I can speak to about this more specific scenario than that.

    Another aside: Perhaps a discussion about a more appropriate way to bring up the above discussion is in order too. Clearly the way this whole thing was brought up did more to incite anger than discussion, as I mentioned before. If a discussion were the goal, certainly there must have been some better way to begin it.

  • Lena

    The only thing I disagree though is the implied notion that it is not okay to approach a woman, even if she made no sign that she’d be interested.

    But context is everything. The first words out of your mouth when you approach a woman shouldn’t be, “Want to go to my room for a cup of coffee?” (Doesn’t mean you’re a bad person for doing it, though.) When stuff like that happens in what is supposed to be an educational or professional setting, it gives the impression that the men in the group see the women present as possible sexual partners first, rather than fellow people with a shared interest. Not that we can’t ALSO be potential sex partners, but at least pretendthat’s not the only reason you’re talking to us, you know?

  • Larry Meredith

    can someone please just write out the unwritten rules of elevator etiquette?

    #1. We don’t talk about elevator club
    #2. WE DON’T TALK ABOUT ELEVATOR CLUB
    #3. Don’t proposition a stranger for sex at 4am.

  • Seti

    The fact that some women and men don’t see this as a *HUGE* deal doesn’t make them stupid or misogynistic or anti-women. But I hope everyone at least recognizes the way situations like this *could* escalate (in worst-case scenarios).

    The problem is, not everyone does recognize this.

    RD’s comment quite clearly states that he doesn’t think this is an issue *at all*, and even that he thinks a woman could easily escape from the elevator if things turned nasty. I’ll copy the relevant paragraph here:

    No escape? I am now really puzzled. Here’s how you escape from an elevator. You press any one of the buttons conveniently provided. The elevator will obligingly stop at a floor, the door will open and you will no longer be in a confined space but in a well-lit corridor in a crowded hotel in the centre of Dublin.

    The original incident wasn’t a huge deal, but this kind of ignorance *is*.

  • Grifter

    It’s weird; at first, I was annoyed that there was yet another post on this subject. But I’m noticing that, as it has been repetitiously posted, the ridiculous responses are being winnowed out. This comments list is the most reasonable so far…

    Although, I still maintain that not enough attention has been paid to Ms. Watson’s inappropriate hijacking of a talk to whine about someone with a different opinion than her. She has been one of the major voices in the Atheist crowd, and it’s behavior like that that gets her not invited to talks. Which I’m sure, based on her previous postings, she’ll attribute to sexism, and not to the fact that she has a history of erratic behavior.

  • meko

    I wanted to add, but was too slow. I’ve gone to three atheist meet-ups. In two out of three there was at least one guy who followed me through the event even after I politely ended the conversation and went to the other end of the bar. In one case the guy would not stop touching me. It was creepy. I rarely ask people to escort me to a cab, but at that time, I felt it necessary.

    Now I see that this is a norm embraced and defended by the atheist community when it’s called out by a respected member.

  • Petria

    Yes in an elevator you can press a button and get out but couldn’t the guy just as easily press a stop button and trap you there?

  • http://Idon'thaveone Linke

    @Lena

    Yes, you are very correct. The first words when anyone approaches anyone shouldn’t be those, but then again we can’t really fault this man (or men, as some insist on doing) for being bad with women. And while it is understandable that his actions may create discomfort, I think it is very unwise and hasty to jump into the generalization that every men in the area is exactly like him. No, I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing, but I assume you’d agree that this has been a common point between feminist defenders of Rebecca Watson. In my own personal view, part of being an atheist is having the clear notion that people are different and are entitled to their differences, so if one man’s actions are enough to influence a woman’s perception of an entire group, this guy should definitely be on politics. Again, I get it that the situation is awkward and might be offensive to most women, but there’s no need to make a huge deal out of it. Maybe just e-mail the event organizers or cease the discussion right there and then, in the video.

    @Grifter

    I personally agree that Watson’s decision to use that incident and the criticism she got was, at best, ill-advised. That still doesn’t mean she’s an asshole, though.

    From the way you talk about her, it is apparent that you dislike her a great deal. So my suggestion is that if you want to see an argument about one particular fact, the first thing you should do is present that fact as it is, and not as you perceive it. Otherwise, what you’ll get is not an argument, but a trollfight and a flamewar, much like this whole incident at first.

    Perhaps just avoiding the words “hijacking” and “whine” will help.

  • Brian Macker

    @lena,

    “it gives the impression that the men in the group see the women present as possible sexual partners first, rather than fellow people with a shared interest.”

    It would only give that impression to a bigot who’d judge everyone by a single persons actions.

    Seti,

    No, I’d say you are the ignorant one. If escape from an elevator rape was the concern then the mere presence of another person (male or female)on the elevator was an issue and not some veiled proposition (if it even was one). If she doesn’t want to feel trapped on the elevator alone with other people at 4:00 am then solution is not to go on elevators alone at 4:00 am.

    What is more likely assuming she’s not a misandrist is that she didn’t want to be trapped in the awkward situation of having to shoot a guy down and then hang out with him for a couple of floors. I’m sure it wasn’t that comfortable for the guy either because he was too shy to do it in the bar, if that was what he was doing. Just as likely that he really was interested in her ideas. No more I suspect.

    BTW, the evidence is in that he wasn’t a rapist.

  • Brian Macker

    The cartoon doesn’t have an exact quote. According to the person complaining he didn’t include the phrase “or whatever”, wasn’t crowding her, and wasn’t holding a banana, dildo, or whatever.

    Also to be accurate, the person doing the questioning should swing Dawkin’s way and therefore be a woman.

    That is if you care about getting your analogies correct.

  • Brian Macker

    What really upsets Watson was the possibility that she was propositioned as a single woman. Apparently if she was married that would make it so much better.

  • Grifter

    @Linke,

    I don’t dislike her, per se, I’m just frustrated at her actions. Perhaps it’s unfair of me, but she had had a prominent position, and has in my opinion abused that. What would YOU call being asked to give a speech about one subject and completely veering off that subject? Generally, it’s called “hijacking” as in “hijacking a thread”. I think that your nitpicking of my terms, which I maintain were appropriate, instead of addressing the point that, of everyone whose actions have been questionable thus far, hers were the only ones that I think were demonstrably wrong, shows a badly closed mindset.

    Why isn’t it valid to say that her actions post-event call into question her description of the event?

  • Grifter

    I realize that I may have not conveyed myself correctly, but when I tried to edit, it took long enough to load that I didn’t have time to edit before it closed due to time:

    @Linke (and others)I recognize that you have admitted she was wrong, but the comment “that doesn’t mean she’s an asshole” shows the closedmindedness I was speaking of…1, I never said she was, and it’s both unfair and incendiary to put words like that in my mouth. And 2, I would say that she was definitely in the wrong. And she is the only person that we can say with certainty (if we concede that none of us were there for elevator guy) is wrong in this whole debacle. Not the worst person ever, certainly, but I think it’s worth noting her behavior, and no one has given me reason not to.

  • crowepps

    @ Meko — there have been a number of comments from a number of women about having similar experiences where they were very uncomfortable, felt threatened, and in one case was actually assaulted.

    And in every single thread where I’ve seen this discussed someone has made a comment simliar to that by Link:

    but then again we can’t really fault this man (or men, as some insist on doing) for being bad with women. And while it is understandable that his actions may create discomfort, I think it is very unwise and hasty to jump into the generalization

    Because even though a number of different women have reported a LOT of similiar problems at many different conferences, it would be totally unreasonable to ‘fault’ any individual man for being “bad with women” or “making women uncomfortable” because it’s more important to preserve the male entitlement to ask total strangers for a no strings boink.

    Now hastily jumping to generalizations that the women who dare to bring this up are whining and are probably man hating femi-nazi’s who want to abolish sex apparently is perfectly okay.

  • http://Idon'thaveone Linke

    @Grifter

    I apologize if I sounded dismissive of your argument by focusing on the terms you used. That wasn’t my intention! I was sincerely stating that your wording could be misinterpreted by people (much like myself) and that would mislead the entire debate. I didn’t mean to say that “hijacking” is an offensive or inappropriate term. What I meant is that if you expect a clear argument, you may want to choose clearer words, or words with “lighter” semantics, if that makes any sense.

    And also I didn’t mean to say you called her an asshole. I see I could have phrased it all better, but that was my own line of thought, not yours. It does look like I’m implying you said it, and for that I’m sorry too.

    Miscommunications cleared though, I still wouldn’t say she is wrong. I was not present to hear her speech, but from what I read on other blogs and other versions of the incident, she didn’t veer off completely from the subject of her speech, and only mentioned her critics as an example of her point.

    Of course, I could be wrong. I wasn’t there. But if that’s the case, then it is her own personal decision to quote anyone to prove or disprove any argument she made. It is my personal opinion that using your own critics as an example of something you criticise is a tactic as good as inventing a beauty-measuring machine that always grants you the highest grade possible. However, she’s only guilty of being bad at holding up her own arguments, and shouldn’t be morally condemned or frowned upon for her choice.

    In my opinion, her decision was bad because it shows weakness in whatever it was she meant to defend, and heated up a discussion that would easily (as it did in fact) diverge from topic.

    If she did use a big portion of her time for that, though, then I agree with you one hundred percent.

  • Sin

    This reminds me of situations where I had been in discussions with a friend about something – economic policy, politics, various books we have read and enjoyed etc.

    Sometimes, after a period of back and forth discussion, at the conclusion of me conveying my perspective on a point, such as the analysis of our government’s latest carbon tax proposal, I would receive, in lieu of rebuttal or further discussison, something helpful and insight like “your hair is pretty”, or “you are so hot I just want to kiss you”, “come here and sit on my lap” and the like.

    Do I object to being complemented in such a manner in all situations? No. But do I strongly object to those statements in that situation? Very very strongly yes!

    Because it felt to me that the content of everything I had said, my words and my thoughts were all insignificant to my friend, that apart from my appearance and my sexual role, I was unworthy of notice. It felt incredibly objectifying.

    When I raised the issue I was of course told it was all unintentional, that my friend had utmost respect for me, that disrespecting me in that manner by ignoring the content of what I was saying to attempt to push their sexual desires onto me in that situation was just who they are because they are really just horny all the time.

    My friend however did apologise after the initial period of defensiveness, after I spelt out exactly why I found those actions objectionable, and agreed to take more care and notice of their actions in future and try to keep to the appropriate tone for a particular interaction.

    In this whole drama, an objection was raised about how certain types of behaviour can be perceived and how people could be more situationally aware.

    The escalation occured not because RW decided to throw Elevator Guy out randomly and everywhere as some horrible example of chauvism in our society, but because a barrage of insults ensued against RW, with people claiming that such sexualising disrespect wasn’t a big deal, that women needed to put up with it, that it was a man’s right to proposition people as they pleased in that manner, that though other women might not have accepted EG’s proposal either they don’t think RW should have so vocally highlighted his behaviour because though he wasn’t the absolute charmer and gentleman he obviouslly didn’t assault her or anything, that because she wasn’t raped and all he did was be an insensitive jerk how dare she comment that he was an insensitive jerk.

    This became a big deal not because the initial encounter was terrible but because of the reactions of people to RW’s anecdote. Asking other people to calm down and proclaiming how bored this entire situation makes you, suggests nothing more than that there are people who do not understand, and have made no effort to understand, why some women feel very strongly about this issue. As does beginning a sentence with “I agree EG was a jerk but…”

  • http://Idon'thaveone Linke

    @crowepps

    You’d raise a valid point if you didn’t insist on sarcasm to get it across. I don’t think anyone said it is “totally unreasonable” for women to fault this man or be cautious of similar instances. I only said it is unwise. For example, there are numerous papers explaining the correlation between the unemployment and crime rates. That makes it very reasonable to be wary in a high-unemployment area, but very unwise to assume every unemployed person is a thief or a murderer.

    Also, no one ever said it is “more important to preserve the male entitlement to ask total strangers for a no strings boink”. You were the only one. But since you insist on bringing it up, EVERYONE is entitled to ask total strangers for a no strings boink. Like I said before, people have the right to be obnoxious, much like you have the right to refuse and be offended.

    And lastly, could you please point out to me where has anyone said this?

    the women who dare to bring this up are whining and are probably man hating femi-nazi’s who want to abolish sex

  • http://Idon'thaveone Linke

    @Sin

    I don’t really get what your point is. The whole text makes it quite clear, but your conclusion is, at best, strange.

    You’re saying that there is no way for me to understand why women feel very strongly about this issue and still think they should calm down? Just because I disagree with something it automatically means I don’t understand it?

    Seems to me that a very strong argument got magically lost by resorting to a “you just don’t get it” conclusion.

  • crowepps

    I only said it is unwise.

    Every single newspaper or magazine article or speech by Officer Friendly I have ever been exposed to has said that a wise woman who wants to protect herself should assume every man a stranger to her is a POTENTIAL rapist and act accordingly. Women who do not do this are scolded for “carelessly making themselves ‘vulnerable’ to rape” by, for instance, not leaving the elevator when a strange man enters it.

    Dubliner Says:
    July 4th, 2011 at 12:45 pm
    “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.”

    http://friendlyatheist.com/2011/07/04/pledge-your-allegiances/#comment-778010

  • AxeGrrl

    Lena, your 9:14pm post was superb :)

  • http://Idon'thaveone Linke

    @crowepps

    Though the magazines, newspapers and Officer Friendly speeches are definitely right in worrying and taking measures to reduce rape incidents, I think such radical means are indeed unwise and potentially harmful to one’s social and emotional life, no matter how effective they may be. To a greater extent, never opening your front door and never leaving your house is also a fool-proof rape-reduction system, and though equally effective, it is almost equally innefficient. I don’t think those instructions are meant to be followed to the letter, but should serve more as guidelines to behaviour when in perilous or potentially perilous circumstances.

    If every woman should consider EVERY strange man a potential rapist and act accordingly, the world would be a downright ridiculous place. It would be the same as everyone considering EVERY strange person a con artist. There is an inherent trust in human dialogue, and that’s what makes communication make sense. This has been better explained by big-shot figures such as Hannah Arendt, and while this inherent trust does prove to be the reason why people are tricked (and yes, why not, raped), to act in denial of this trust is to strive away from the very nature of human beings.

    By the way, I see how you put the word POTENTIAL in all caps, probably emphasizing the fact that you’re not calling anyone a rapist, but showing that any man CAN be a rapist. That is very true, but acting based on this notion is actually MORE offensive than being asked for sex in an elevator.

    POTENTIALLY being something means to have the possibility of becoming this thing. So, for example, you, as a person with genitals, have the POTENTIAL to be a prostitute. Does that give me the right to treat you like a prostitute?

  • Sin

    @linke

    I’m not saying that you cannot think another person should calm down and still comprehend the premise of their arguments.

    But it seems that for a lot of people, the objections that some women are raising is important than telling other to calm down, or making a point about how much they don’t think it’s an issue, or how bored they are by the whole discussion, or that they may agree EG was probably socially inept but…

    It all contributes to the general sense that in the hierarcy of concerns, the objections are somewhat lower than the wish that people would just stfu about it.

    Which doesn’t correlate with how important those people who aren’t shutting up, rate this issue. In terms of my previous analogy, it would be like (and this is what happened the very first time) my friend telling me that though their response was suboptimal, I really shouldn’t be getting so upset because it really wasn’t a big deal and I ruined a perfectly nice evening by raising my objections. ie I get where you’re coming from, but really, calm down, your feelings really aren’t as important as my right to enjoy the rest of this evening.

    Perhaps I should not have phrased it by saying that people do not understand the merits of the argument. Instead I will say that they are demonstrating that they do not imbue it with the same degree of importance and consideration. It is understandable that not everyone would feel as strongly as others, but people are being told that we have no right to feel as strongly as we do about instances of objectification, even though the specifics in this case was not at all a major issue.

    And as I mentioned, the main objection I think a lot of people feel isn’t against the specific actions of Elevator Guy but against the response RW received by various MRAs to her initial video. And rather than yelling down those MRAs and those people saying RW had no right to voice her complaint, another group is saying “okay we get that you don’t like it, but you should both stop feeling upset and both calm down,”.

    The implication is that either both groups’ objections are equally valid (which they are not), or at least that the concern about how certain types of behaviour can put women off is far less important than the tone of this discussion.

  • crowepps

    By the way, I see how you put the word POTENTIAL in all caps, probably emphasizing the fact that you’re not calling anyone a rapist, but showing that any man CAN be a rapist. That is very true, but acting based on this notion is actually MORE offensive than being asked for sex in an elevator.

    I am not saying that any man could be a rapist, a statement which is not true because men with empathy and compassion would never rape a woman, but instead that the woman cannot tell which category the man is in. Because the woman cannot tell which category the man is in, she simply avoids him, her right since she has no obligation to remain in his company.

    I do not believe it is more offensive, because the man can hopefully recognize the strategy behind the woman playing it safe by getting back out of the elevator to avoid him and CHOOSE not to get all huffy.

    If every woman should consider EVERY strange man a potential rapist and act accordingly, the world would be a downright ridiculous place.

    Yes, it is ridiculous that women have to do this, and it puts a real crimp in our ability to do things. The fact that you aren’t aware this is what women are instructed to do, constantly, is a sad commentary on how men don’t notice that women exist is a parallel but different reality.

    POTENTIALLY being something means to have the possibility of becoming this thing. So, for example, you, as a person with genitals, have the POTENTIAL to be a prostitute. Does that give me the right to treat you like a prostitute?

    Yes, apparently, since you assert you and any other man has the right to ask me for sex out of the blue if the notion happens to strike. Of course, you’re not planning to actually PAY, but instead want a free sample. I’m not sure that makes it better.

  • http://Idon'thaveone Linke

    @Sin

    Oh, that’s a much better post right there. You raise a very valid point, one that I really wasn’t thinking too much about.

    I can only speak for myself here, but at least what I meant all along was that this whole thing got out of hand not because it quickly extrapolated into a wider argument, but because it quickly turned into a pile of blind namecalling and ad hominem attacks.

    Of course women have the right to feel outraged and while I think I have a fair acknowledgement of how much this can be offensive to them, I’d be very interested in hearing more about the reasons why it offends them so much. I hope this doesn’t make me sound ignorant, but I really don’t (and can’t) actually eperience the life of a woman, and so I can’t assess a certain situation with the same repertoire of emotions and concepts.

    Anyway, I agree completely that whoever’s saying people don’t have the right to complain is clearly in the wrong.

  • http://Idon'thaveone Linke

    @crowepps

    My whole point in that post was that we’re all in our own rights. My last question there was a rhetorical one, as I had already answered it before. YES, people DO have the right to be jerks. Unfortunately. And yes, people do have the right to feel offended. I’ve been saying that since my very first post. The thing about treating anyone like a prostitute is just that. You CAN treat me like a rapist and I CAN treat you like a prostitute, but that wouldn’t get us anywhere good. Watson’s situation just proves that.

    I do know what women are instructed to do, and I do think it is very, very messed up. I just think the instructions are guidelines, not strict behaviour patterns to be followed. Much like “don’t step on the grass”. It is a guideline that will be the background of our decision-making, but susceptible to temporary change depending on how we perceive things.
    Of course I’m not implying that anti-rape instructions are as simple or as easily bypassed as a sign on grass, but I do believe that what women are instructed to do, if followed to the letter, is very innefficient, however effective it may be. Women should definitely not be forced into having to act in such a way, but that’s a whole different topic.

  • Grifter

    No one had said that anyone does not have the right to complain. There is a huge difference between questioning the validity of a complaint and saying you don’t have the right to complain.

    And sin, you are being hypocritical. You can’t dismiss an opinion based on it being dismissive of an opinion without facing a contradiction.

  • crowepps

    Of course I’m not implying that anti-rape instructions are as simple or as easily bypassed as a sign on grass, but I do believe that what women are instructed to do, if followed to the letter, is very innefficient, however effective it may be.

    Actually, anti-rape instructions are not particularly effective, but women still need to follow them so that when they are raped anyway they will be able to prove their efforts to protect themselves when the rapist’s attorney puts them on trial to prove how the victim ‘enticed’ or ‘encouraged’ or ‘lured’ the rapist into committing the crime.

    Considering that ‘treating you like a rapist’ would mean only avoiding being alone with you while you are still a stranger, I find it difficult to see why you consider this such a burden.

    Even if your knowledge of the statistics on rape is minimal, I don’t see why you would find it ‘insulting’ if a woman who is a stranger to you actively avoids your company. She is not OBLIGED to be in your presence and since you are strangers to each other, her action cannot be personal but instead is obviously an indication that she avoids strangers. For all you know, she’s phobic about germs.

  • AxeGrrl

    crowepps wrote:

    I am not saying that any man could be a rapist….but instead that the woman cannot tell which category the man is in.

    This.

    I hope there are enough people still paying attention to appreciate the fundamental point/distinction you just expressed.

  • Sin

    @grifter

    Certain people have questioned the validity of the complaint. Those questions were addressed with varing degrees of rhetoric and hyperbole. Certain other people have questioned the right to make the complaint at all, because for them it was normal behaviour, because RW was just being hysterical and overreacting, because RW has no right to tell people how she feels about certain types of behaviour, because in those people’s eyes it was an invalid complaint – ie I don’t think it was a big deal and I don’t like the implications, typical feminazis.

    And an opinion whose sole content is to dismiss the opinions and feelings of others deserves to be dismissed. It exists for no other purpose than to be dismissive itself.

    An opinion about how someone feels when they are being objectified or when their claims are dismissed because someone else, who had never been in their situation, cannot empathise and thus states that those feelings are invalid, is one that has every right to not be dismissed and be considered as a valid statement of fact. It is simply someone saying: “I do not like being treated this way.”

    Some women (not all) are telling men “I don’t like it when this happens it makes me feel objectified”. Some people (men and some women) are replying “You should not feel that way. Stop feeling that way. You have no right to tell me that my actions cause you to feel that way. I should be allowed to act in that manner and not make you feel that way. Your opinions aren’t valid. Calm down.”
    That is pretty much being told that those who are complaining do not have the right to do so.

    You are saying that you deserve the right to have your wish that I stfu respected and that you have the right to ignore my opinion, and I must respect that or you would be entitled to ignore my opinion. It seems the only and inevitable end result you are gunning for, in your premise, is your right to ignore other people’s opinions.

  • http://Idon'thaveone Linke

    @crowepps

    I do not consider it a burden if any woman avoids being alone with me. However it does bother me that my mere presence might discomfort her a great deal and that I might be perceived as a threat even though I mean only good or nothing at all. What I’m saying is that just like women get worked up about being considered objects (or whatever else might bother them), men can get annoyed about being considered a threat. I’m not saying it’s the same problem, as I am well aware the women get it tougher, but if you can’t possibly conceive the notion that it might actually BOTHER some men to be automatically labeled as a potential sex offender, then you’re either reading me quite badly or I’m typing out of my ass.

    And it doesn’t matter whether or not her particular actions are personally oriented or not. It actually doesn’t matter if a woman avoids me for being, in fact, a germaphobe. As soon as women are instructed to perceive EVERY MAN as a potential rapist and act accordingly, and I am aware of that instruction, it immediately starts bothering me whenever such a situation arises. Is it the woman’s fault? Of course not! Is it MY fault? I don’t think so either.
    In the situation at hand, this could be noted if suddenly Elevator Guy showed up here and said he is deeply disturbed with Watson’s reaction of calling him “creepy”. I agree it is creepy as hell, but if he sincerely claimed to have invited her out of good intentions (as socially inept as he may be) I would understand him being upset.

  • Grifter

    I do get tired of the comments detailing how this man might have been a rapist. Although, of course, that is true, it was never Ms. Watson’s point.

    It was not that she felt unsafe, it was that she felt objectified.

    http://skepchick.org/2011/06/on-naming-names-at-the-cfi-student-leadership-conference/

    I think that’s worth noting, because a lot of women coming to her defense act as though because she called the guy creepy, he was creepy rapist-style and not just creepy skeevy-style.

    While her opinion may or may not be warranted, I think it is unfair to use rape at all in this discussion.

    And in that same article, she notes that she only put up a slide and talked about the person for “2 minutes out of sixty”. I wager it was longer, but let’s say 5 minutes out of sixty were spent talking about someone who disagreed with her, when the talk was supposed to be about how the religious right treats women. Although that’s not as bad as I thought it was from previous comments on here, it still isn’t great.

  • http://Idon'thaveone Linke

    Well this is my last comment for now. I still have stuff to say and this has been a really good argument, but it’s already 6:30 here and I have a flight in a couple of hours.
    Good night everyone.

  • crowepps

    @Axegrrl – as I understand the thread to this point, women should stop worrying about rape because being suspicious of men generally is “unwise” and “harmful to one’s social and emotional life” but instead should rely on “inherent trust” because that’s the “very nature of human being”. Even though “inherent trust” will increase the chances they will be raped.

    It’s interesting that the response to “rape is a consideration women have to keep in mind” is not “let’s see how we can collectively reduce the rape risk” but instead “women should stop considering that because it hurts men’s feelings and interferes with men scoring”.

    I don’t think they CARE about the fundamental distinction.

  • Grifter

    @Sin,

    you contradict yourself. “Certain other people have questioned the right to make the complaint at all , because for them it was normal behaviour, because RW was just being hysterical and overreacting, because RW has no right to tell people how she feels about certain types of behaviour, because in those people’s eyes it was an invalid complaint – ie I don’t think it was a big deal and I don’t like the implications, typical feminazis.”

    Nowhere have any of those people said that she didn’t have the right to complain, only, again, that her complaint was invalid, followed by various reasons that you may or may not accept. But don’t conflate a disagreement with saying you don’t have the right to say things.

    “And an opinion whose sole content is to dismiss the opinions and feelings of others deserves to be dismissed. It exists for no other purpose than to be dismissive itself” The only opinion I see here that does that is yours, for the following reasons: RW has an opinion. People disagree with it, giving their reasons why they think her opinion is invalid. You state that those people’s opinions are invalid because they state that RWs opinion is invalid. Again, the only opinion that seems to meet that criteria is your own.

    “An opinion about how someone feels when they are being objectified” shows your bias: there is no conclusive evidence that she was objectified. She felt objectified, and there has been extensive discussion about whether she should have or not, but this wasn’t a case of a person flatly saying “you are a sexual object only”, it was a case of interpretation. Only once you accept your premise, that she was definitely objectified, can we see why you would feel that those with differing opinions are so clearly wrong. But the point here is that they have a different opinion because they DON’T accept that premise.

    “Some women (not all) are telling men “I don’t like it when this happens it makes me feel objectified”. Some people (men and some women) are replying “You should not feel that way. Stop feeling that way. You have no right to tell me that my actions cause you to feel that way. ” — The problem is, once again, that objectification is a strange term…is the problem with it THAT THE OTHER PERSON views you as an object, or that YOU feel like an object? Because if it’s the former, and yet the person in no way meant it that way, then yes, the feeling on your part is overreacting. If it’s the latter, and once again if it wasn’t the intention of the first person, then once again, how is it the first person’s fault? I understand that there IS a lot of objectification in society, and I’m against it, but I also feel like sometimes an individual’s hangups are somehow projected as being society’s problem.

    “You are saying that you deserve the right to have your wish that I stfu respected and that you have the right to ignore my opinion, and I must respect that or you would be entitled to ignore my opinion. It seems the only and inevitable end result you are gunning for, in your premise, is your right to ignore other people’s opinions.”

    Actually, I never stated a wish that anyone stfu. So, thanks for putting words in my mouth but please don’t. I said that just because they disagree with you, doesn’t invalidate their opinion. Only your opinion seems to self-cancel. Most of the commenters acknowledge that in principle, if what she described happened in a bad enough manner, it would be bad, but that her specifically described circumstance wasn’t as bad as she made it out to be, and that her complaints were therefore invalid. Your response to that is that since it’s her “response to being objectified” (when, again, there is no clear agreement that she was, in fact, objectified), it’s clearly valid and they are just calling it invalid to call it invalid. That ignores their points. You then go on to say, without addressing their points, that any opinion which only invalidates another opinion is invalid. That would make your opinion regarding the invalidity of their opinion itself invalid. If what you are trying to say is that they are being unconstructive, say that. If what you’re saying is that you disagree with them, say that. But you’re trying to get mad at them for ignoring your perspective while at the same time ignoring their perspective.

  • Sin

    @Grifter

    I think the only reason rape appeared was because a recurring objection was that a woman should have no reason to notice the situation – 4am, elevator, foreign country – since the guy could have been perfectly benign and it’s perfectly reasonable to approach someone in that setting.

    The setting simply added to the creepy factor, and part of that creepy factor would arise from for some people due to thoughts of potential rape.

    Not all men are rapists. Most men in elevators are not rapists. Most socially inept men in elevators at 4am are not rapists. But being propositioned by a man in an elevator at 4am makes some people rather more nervous than being propositioned when not in an elevator at 4am. Someone who is made nervous by an avoidable situation is less likely to feel their feelings are being taken into account by a person who wants something from them.

    The major objection I think is still the objecticifation and disregard for RW’s stated wishes. Elevator and 4am just added to it.

  • Grifter

    @crowepps: I think you misunderstand the point. The point was raised that men should understand that women are always assuming all men are rapists. The counterpoint was raised that behaving as though all men are rapists is ludicrous and unhealthy, and is also unfair to men. It is also one-sided, in that men are expected to understand women, while there is no burden on women to understand men.

  • crowepps

    However it does bother me that my mere presence might discomfort her a great deal and that I might be perceived as a threat even though I mean only good or nothing at all.

    Well, gee, I’m sorry you’re bothered, but the solution is not to tell her to stop being discomforted but instead to put some pressure on politicians and law enforcement and district attorneys to get serious about preventing and prosecuting rape. The thing that makes her nervous is all the rapists running around out there free to rape again.

    When there are literally thousands of rapes kits sitting in police evidence lockers unprocessed because identifying and locking up rapists isn’t a high priority, when rape trials are about what the victim was wearing and whether she had a drink, when there is a loud and active Men’s Rights movement claiming there’s no such thing as rape, when colleges channel rape accusations into in-college ‘mediation’ instead of calling the cops, when women brought to emergency rooms after a rape aren’t offered prophylactic birth control or STD treatment because the potential for a fetus is a higher priority, women are likely going to continue to look out for themselves. It’s crystal clear nobody else is going to do so.

  • Grifter

    I’m gonna call shenanigans on some of your statements: “When there are literally thousands of rapes kits sitting in police evidence lockers unprocessed because identifying and locking up rapists isn’t a high priority,”– I’d like to see some evidence of that, and that it’s not for another reason. “when rape trials are about what the victim was wearing and whether she had a drink,” — You’re right, men shouldn’t be able to defend themselves! In seriousness, though, the court is never (any more, let’s not get into the past, because it did suck then) saying it’s “her fault” for being raped, defense attorneys usually instead try to say that the woman is “crying wolf”, or changing her mind about her consent after the deed. Unfortunately it’s a problem that will be difficult to solve while still protecting the accused’s rights, and keep in mind that it does sometimes happen.

    “when there is a loud and active Men’s Rights movement claiming there’s no such thing as rape,” BS. I want to see ANY group that’s claiming there’s no such thing. Which is not to say that Men’s Rights movements don’t contain misogynists…but then, Women’s Rights movements contain their own share of misandrists.

    And lest you think I think the world is hunky dory:
    ” when colleges channel rape accusations into in-college ‘mediation’ instead of calling the cops,” Very effed up, “when women brought to emergency rooms after a rape aren’t offered prophylactic birth control or STD treatment because the potential for a fetus is a higher priority,” –That’s the sort of religious-based mistreatment of women that RW was supposed to be addressing in her talk (and, having not seen the talk, I don’t know if she mentioned it).

    Rape is terrible. And society DOESN’T handle rape as well as it should.

    “Women are likely going to continue to look out for themselves. It’s crystal clear nobody else is going to do so.” — This is a meaningless statement. OF COURSE women should look out for themselves…are you recommending a world in which women are “taken care of”? (I don’t think that’s what you’re saying…). The point here has never been that women shouldn’t be on guard, or that rape is good, just that some women take their own concerns farther than other people believe is reasonable.

    I understand that you’re easily angered by this issue, but we don’t come to understand each other except by making and backing up good points…that is supposed to be the rational course of action. In the spirit of that, if you can back up the points I called shenanigans on, I will certainly change my opinion.

  • crowepps

    The counterpoint was raised that behaving as though all men are rapists is ludicrous and unhealthy, and is also unfair to men.

    I agree that it is ludicrous and unhealthy. It is only unfair to the men who aren’t actually rapists. Surely the nonrapist men are so horrified by the ubiquity of rape that they are willing to tolerate the minor discomfort of being eyed warily as women attempt to protect themselves.

    It is also one-sided, in that men are expected to understand women, while there is no burden on women to understand men.

    And yet the women are putting tremendous effort into attempting to understand if this man is a rapist, aren’t they? Particularly when the men are given a list of ‘stereotypical rapist behaviors – elevators’ and still refuse to give up any of the behaviors because “women ought to trust us even when we are acting like rapists because we’re not”.

  • crowepps
  • Grifter

    @Sin

    I can definitely understand where you’re coming from, however, I think you seem to have a bit of a blind spot.

    For example:
    “But being propositioned by a man…” Again, you seem to accept as true premises things that not everyone does. Not everyone accepts that he was definitely saying “Hey, let’s have sex”. He may have hoped it would end in sex, sure, a not-uncommon reaction, but there has been nothing to say that he didn’t, in fact, want to offer her just coffee.

    “The major objection I think is still the objectification and disregard for RW’s stated wishes. Elevator and 4am just added to it”

    Actually, EG completely took into account her stated condition, if you think about it. She said she was tired, and therefore wanted to go to bed, he asked if she would like a stimulating beverage, which would in theory dissipate the tiredness. Only if you translate “want to come to my room for coffee” directly into “Let’s have sex” does it become what you think it is.

    Even if we accept that EG wanted sex, I don’t know anybody who offers coffee, even the ones that mean sex, who immediately gets naked once they get to the room. Usually there’s coffee, and small talk, and then the sexing. Maybe there’s a whole raft of slang I just don’t know, but that’s been my experience, which is why I say that her “objectification” is very subjective, and an arguable point, since it’s predicated on him “ignoring” her stated desire, which was based on a condition of fatigue, which his words DIRECTLY ADDRESSED.

    Which still doesn’t change that he was still probably an awkward douche, and I don’t blame her for saying no, just that everyone acts like he was this big misogynist pig based on what seems to be incredibly scanty evidence.

  • crowepps

    Men’s Rights:

    Charles P McDowell’s initial study… His study confirmed that 60% of rape accusations were false.

    http://www.mens-rights.net/law/accusations.htm

  • crowepps

    The point here has never been that women shouldn’t be on guard, or that rape is good, just that some women take their own concerns farther than other people believe is reasonable.

    Just how did how far “some women” take their own concerns become a matter that’s up for a public vote? I don’t see why the opnions of “other people” should be given a preference. They’re not the ones who are going to be raped if they miscalculate.

  • Grifter

    @crowepps

    1, those links don’t show that the REASON for the untested kits is that catching rapists is a low priority. I’m sorry if I seemed to be calling shenanigans on the idea of there being many untested rape kits, but I have no problem believing in the incompetency government, only in what you state as the reasoning. Your own link seems to contradict you: it says the untested kits are “the result of strained budgets, overworked crime labs and a law enforcement philosophy that rape kits are primarily useful as evidence if a stranger committed the assault.” Again, I call shenanigans that there are police departments are “meh” about rape.

    2. “I agree that it is ludicrous and unhealthy. It is only unfair to the men who aren’t actually rapists.” — Wow. That’s like saying “Treating black men like they’re all lazy is only unfair to the ones who aren’t lazy”.

    “Surely the nonrapist men are so horrified by the ubiquity of rape that they are willing to tolerate the minor discomfort of being eyed warily as women attempt to protect themselves.” — Eyed warily is not the issue, is it? EG wasn’t complaining about RWs rejection, RW was complaining that EG dared to (possibly) hit on her. So you’re saying that it’s ethically wrong to be socially awkward. A little different than talking about “the minor discomfort of being eyed warily”.

    “And yet the women are putting tremendous effort into attempting to understand if this man is a rapist, aren’t they? Particularly when the men are given a list of ‘stereotypical rapist behaviors – elevators’ and still refuse to give up any of the behaviors because “women ought to trust us even when we are acting like rapists because we’re not”.” Just…wow. First off, your point is that they AREN’T putting the effort in, isn’t it? That they are nervous just because of the generic situation, irrespective of whether the man in question is behaving in a manner consistent with violence? Also, I don’t recollect ever being handed a “list of stereotypical rapist behaviors”, maybe mine got lost in the mail?
    And several women have said what he did was NOT ‘stereotypical rapist behavior’, so I guess their list isn’t as complete as yours.

  • Grifter

    The point here has never been that women shouldn’t be on guard, or that rape is good, just that some women take their own concerns farther than other people believe is reasonable.

    Just how did how far “some women” take their own concerns become a matter that’s up for a public vote? I don’t see why the opnions of “other people” should be given a preference. They’re not the ones who are going to be raped if they miscalculate.”

    You are correct that every person, man or woman, must be responsible for their own safety, and that is not up for debate. But if you post your opinion on the internet, people who disagree with that opinion will likely reply with why they disagree on the internet. This does not mean that your actions are up to a public vote, just that when you make a public statement, you are creating a dialogue.

    For example, I could talk about how careful I am to keep all flames and burning material away from kerosene. If I do that on a forum, I will likely get responses ranging from “Good job” to “don’t be such a wuss, you can flick a cigarette into kerosene without starting a fire”. That doesn’t mean there’s any kind of a vote, just that I’ve stated my opinion regarding a safety concern, and others are expressing theirs in relation to mine.

  • crowepps

    I understand that you’re easily angered by this issue, but we don’t come to understand each other except by making and backing up good points

    Checking sources, my statement about the Men’s Rights argument was an exaggeration. They still allow that ‘stranger rapes’ are valid, but insist the 60% involving people who were acquainted are false accusations.

    I’m not angry. I am old, and I am impatient with the fact that this conversation is almost identical to ones I had 40 years ago. I have spent 35 years working in the legal field and believe me, to this day rape trials are still about the victim. They are about whether the victim ‘put herself in that situation’ to an absolutely ridiculous extent. A girl who was known to be unconscious during the entire process, who does not remember the rape although it was witnessed, interrupted and reported by her friends, is asked over and over again why she was drinking, because drinking “made the rape possible” and therefore it’s HER fault. I could give you links to a long, long string of cases, but there isn’t much point.

  • Benoit

    And some people have the nerve to attack Pope Dawkins, too. Those people need to be excommunicated from Atheism.

  • Grifter

    “Checking sources, my statement about the Men’s Rights argument was an exaggeration. They still allow that ‘stranger rapes’ are valid, but insist the 60% involving people who were acquainted are false accusations.” (which means they also acknowledge that acquaintance rape is valid, just not as valid as you think it is)— That is possibly true. We don’t know. Certainly, there is a huge difference between “rape doesn’t exist” and “it’s not as common as claimed”. They are likely overstating their case, but don’t paint them as pro-rape.

    “to this day rape trials are still about the victim. They are about whether the victim ‘put herself in that situation’ to an absolutely ridiculous extent. A girl who was known to be unconscious during the entire process, who does not remember the rape although it was witnessed, interrupted and reported by her friends, is asked over and over again why she was drinking, because drinking “made the rape possible”…

    I’m sorry, but I’m going to once again call shenanigans on you. A defense attorney actually said “Made the rape possible”, admitting rape occurred? And the client got off? Recently?(because it’s certainly not up for debate that that sort of thing used to be used as an argument. And it was terrible). Was that the argument, or was it that she was too drunk to remember if she gave consent? Although a sleazy defense, it’s one that is understandable to make; many defenses come across as sleazy if we accept the defendant as guilty until proven innocent, but the defense is obliged to defend to the best of their ability. That’s our legal system for you, unfortunately.

    If there are a long, long string of cases in which the question wasn’t whether rape had occurred but whether the victim was to blame for being raped, why wouldn’t there be much point? You would be educating someone about it. It’s not like I’ve been trolling, or misogynistic, I just don’t take your statements, which even now you must admit had a significant amount of hyperbole, at face value, because I am skeptical. I also believe that they are not entirely relevant to this discussion, in that the original point by RW was not that she felt threatened and it was commenters who brought up this idea of EG as potential rapist, but I nonetheless do have a genuine desire to know if that does truly occur, or if it’s the situation I described. If the latter, then unfortunately it’s hard to fix that without breaking the defendant’s rights, if the former then I’m fairly p-o’ed that it occurs, and will make it a point to do whatever I can to change it.

  • Sans Nomine

    Wow. So to counter misogyny you’ve decided to go with a cartoon that is just a little homophobic and offensive to the LGBT community?

    You do realise that “gay panic” (ie. he was coming on to me) is used as a defence in a lot of anti-gay assaults and murders, right?

    So, maybe, just maybe, using this as a “see how he likes it” type viewpoint, doesn’t really do much more than insult gay people (yet again)?

    This cartoon does no one any favours.

  • Pixie Song

    Isn’t it kind of obnoxious to point something out as a petty non-issue, tell everyone else to calm down and stop feeding the machine, only to dedicate post after post to that very issue? You obviously want to talk about it – which is fine. But don’t pull the “do as I say, not as a I do” thing.

  • crowepps

    That they are nervous just because of the generic situation, irrespective of whether the man in question is behaving in a manner consistent with violence?

    Men who rape women don’t always start out by being violent and not all rapes have violence as a component. Maybe he was going to drug the coffee.

    Women cannot maximize their safety if they are required to give the benefit of the doubt to every man they run across. The whole concept of rape prevention is that women are supposed to avoid SITUATIONS, like being in an elevator with a strange man or having men bring them a drink from the bar or going to a man’s room at a hotel.

    You seem to be unable to recognize that as an INTRODUCTORY APPROACH getting a strange woman alone in an elevator (red flag one) inviting her to ones room (red flag two) and offering a beverage that was available at the place you just left (red flag three) sets off all kinds of alarms.

    The way I see it the options are: woman is overly suspicious/man has feelings hurt — woman isn’t suspicious enough/is raped. Those aren’t equivalent.

  • crowepps

    They are likely overstating their case, but don’t paint them as pro-rape.

    Except when they are:

    If a woman was the most evil,vile person in some man’s life wouldn’t he be justified to seek vengeance,perhaps even rape and in this case wouldn’t rape be just another ass-kicking just like if an ass-kicking he would do to a man? Do I dare say that there are times when rape is justice? I would say so. Now before somebody gets their panties in a bunch I just want to point out that rape is already semi-legal,for women anyway.

    http://mensrightsboard.blogspot.com/2011/06/reexaming-rape.html

    A site debunking their study estimated the actual ‘false rape accusation’ rate is closer to 2 to 3%.

  • allison

    @Grifter,

    I was not at the talk, so I only have what I’ve read to go on here. Please forgive any incorrect impressions I may have as a result.

    It was not that she felt unsafe, it was that she felt objectified.

    http://skepchick.org/2011/06/on-naming-names-at-the-cfi-student-leadership-conference/

    I agree here, but I think the larger issue some women have been discussing is that this stuff happens to them repeatedly at atheist conferences and that what Elevator Guy did is just one such instance. When this stuff happens to you repeatedly and the reaction from the community is that all these cases are individual and you have little right to be concerned, well, it does cross over into an acceptance of the objectification of women in the environment. In short, I’m personally less concerned about EG himself than in the overall hesitance in the community to note a pattern and deal with it if that makes sense.

    And in that same article, she notes that she only put up a slide and talked about the person for “2 minutes out of sixty”. I wager it was longer, but let’s say 5 minutes out of sixty were spent talking about someone who disagreed with her, when the talk was supposed to be about how the religious right treats women. Although that’s not as bad as I thought it was from previous comments on here, it still isn’t great.

    This is one where, again, I think it depends on the context. Part of what’s been worrying me is that it sounds from RW’s account as if this were awkwardly placed. However, I can certainly see someone giving such a talk and making an appropriate segue in the “lest we start to pat ourselves on the back too much, let’s remember that we are not perfect in these regards and here’s an example” manner. My impression from reading what RW wrote is that such was her intent although I do not know if she handled it well or smoothly. From other things I’ve read, I understand that she probably didn’t handle it smoothly.

  • crowepps

    Was that the argument, or was it that she was too drunk to remember if she gave consent?

    So you think it’s appropriate to put her on trial as well? Your response explains why I’m not going to bother pulling up the cases. Feel free to do your own googling, I’ve had it for this thread. If it actually matters, she passed out before he even arrived.

  • xinit

    The first words out of your mouth when you approach a woman shouldn’t be, “Want to go to my room for a cup of coffee?”

    Lena;

    Based on what I remember from the initial video, I thought that they talked in the bar and Rebecca expressed how tired she was, and then the coffee was mentioned later, in the elevator.

    I’m not sure if you’re characterizing the “Hey want to come up to my room for coffee” as the initial contact or not, but it sounds like it…

  • crowepps

    In short, I’m personally less concerned about EG himself than in the overall hesitance in the community to note a pattern and deal with it if that makes sense.

    In reading a number of threads about this subject, it’s my impression that most people were trying to point out the pattern and getting frustrated at the stubborn refusal on some people’s part to accept that it exists. Particularly in those cases where they acknowledge the pattern of lots of ‘hitting on’ happening but reject the idea that ‘hitting on’ is inherently offensive and insist instead that some women are just oversensitive/feminists/whiny.

  • qwertyuiop

    Don’t be a CREEP in an elevator. Nothing good will come of it. That’s what you should be learning here. Also, don’t proposition a woman who has just spent hours and hours explaining that she’s tired of being sexualized. Oh, I forgot. Women at your conferences are just there to screw you and have your babies, not for you to actually listen to. That seems to be what I’m learning through all this.

    What I learned through all this is that it’s for women to decide and to dictate what is and is not creepy for everyone else, and lots of men seem to agree with that, including PZ Myers.

    And all you men had better conform cuz the ladies have the law on their side. Sexual harassment, stalking, etc. mostly based on he-said she-said and DESTROYS men’s lives.

    This whole thing was blown WAY out or proportion by a woman with the paranoid assumption that any man who so much as glances at her, or has the unmitigated gall to speak to her, compliment her by saying she is interesting and would like to speak to her over coffee, just wants to stick his dick in her. That’s HER problem and HER paranoid preconceptions. Unfortunately there are many women who think the same way.

    I hope feminists are happy that this is what it has come to. Don’t be surprised if men start to flee in terror from women (the same can apply to children too), or refuse to even acknowledge their presence, lest they be accused of something.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    IMO some of the reactions to the original incident is due to unrealistically thinking there is or could be a cohesive atheistic community of well-behaved people.

    There would be the same problems in a convention of non-stamp collectors or any other divergent group of people defined by all not having some belief, trait, or interest.

    My personal view is that it is OK to discuss the problems of unwanted advances in inappropriate places, but it shouldn’t be framed as an atheist problem (or non-stamp collector problem). It is just a problem in the larger human society.

    If we simply want to avoid the problem, we could have a conference with a stated policy of no man towards woman advances. Man towards man OK. Woman towards woman OK. Woman towards man OK. I wonder how that would work?

  • crowepps

    How about using colored dots on the name badges like Mensa does:

    The most odd and intriguing bit of Mensa culture to me was their sticker system for the name badges.

    Green = Hug me!
    Yellow = Ask me first
    Red = Don’t touch me
    Blue = Single

    http://www.blaghag.com/2011/07/my-day-with-mensa.html

  • Grifter

    @crowepps:

    My point was that when she is making the accusation, the defense is going to attack her. That is not a society problem about rape, it is part of the nature of our judicial system.

    And rape concerns an activity that, in other contexts, is a voluntary one. So, while I don’t LIKE that the defense would do that, how would you fix it? By not allowing innocence as a defense? As I said in the rest of my post, defense often seems sleazy, and I’m not justifying the sleaziness, I’m just saying that fixing the sleaziness that is apparent is difficult to do, and that is not a problem about rape, that is a problem inherent in our judicial system, that simply seems particularly awful in the context of rape.

    Your quote is pretty terrible, but following the post, it’s poorly written and has no comments despite having been posted weeks ago, which leads me to believe this is not a major voice in the men’s movement. Just finding someone who says something is =/= to actually pointing out a problem. There are some feminists out there with ridiculous opinions, too. Trolls abound on the internet. But it was said, and by a “men’s rights” person, so I must concede the point.

    @Alison, her segue was to find fault with a fellow blogger for having opinions that were different from her own regarding EG, not to talk about EG. She believes that the other blogger has “anti-woman”, “misogynist” views because the other woman disagrees with her being upset by the incident. I don’t disagree that there are issues all over society with the treatment of women, I do disagree with what she did.

    And I do, honestly, agree with her original point to a certain extent. Although I don’t believe she was “objectified”, I do believe she was likely hit on, and I do believe that’s a problem at these conferences making the women who come uncomfortable. I do think men need to understand that they are likely the 40th person tonight to think about asking a girl out at one of these things, and maybe decide not to because of that.

  • Lena

    See, I wish you’d replied like that the first time.

    So do I, Nakor. I apologize for that reply, honestly.

    I’m going to try one more time, because I really think a lot of important points are being missed, and I want people to understand where a lot of us are coming from.

    Imagine you’re a public high school senior at your graduation ceremony. The valedictorian is up, making her speech, when she asks for a moment of silence to thank Jesus and ask him to bless the graduating class. Not a big deal, right? No, seriously, taken as a completely isolated incident, it’s really not that big a deal. The valedictorian most likely is a perfectly nice young woman who committed a faux pas without any bad intentions at all.

    And yet, the atheist community will make a big deal out of the incident, precisely because it wasn’t an isolated incident. It never is. We live in a world where people are persecuted to varying degrees for defying the predominant beliefs in their society. The United States has a former President who said, while in office, that he couldn’t imagine how an atheist could be President. Last I checked most if not all polls showed that the majority of Americans wouldn’t vote for an atheist. We have lawmakers who have no compunction in telling us that they want certain laws in place because it’s in their bible. Many people live in communities where they legitimately fear coming out as an atheist, because they’ll lose friends, loved ones, even their livelihoods. Many of us are harassed on a regular basis by strangers thinking it’s just fine to knock on our doors or approach us while shopping or on public transportation in order to convert us to their religion. So that incident at the graduation ceremony, while by itself may not be a big deal, is really a symptom of a much larger problem, and it needs to be discussed. And while most atheists will be talking about those larger issues and not condemn the valedictorian as this awful, stupid person, you can bet that a whole lot of people are going to jump to this girl’s defense, accuse atheist of being mean, and completely ignore the meat of the discussion.

    Please tell me that analogy strikes a cord for some of you.

  • Ibis3

    Note to Hemant: Trivialising women’s legitimate concerns and the dismay they’ve experienced at the response* from supposedly enlightened allies to their voicing of the issue? Not funny.

    *Yes, I noticed that you basically said “STFU. This is boring. Can’t we just all get along and not get all hysterical already?”

  • Grifter

    @Lena:

    I think that’s a wonderful analogy. That sort of thing happens all the time. And the only time the community rears up is when it’s either institutionalized (when it’s faculty doing the calling to jeebus) or when it’s specifically a “fuck you” to atheists (as recently happened, I’m sure we all remember). The rest of the time, we just recognize that it’s annoying, but was the right of the valedictorian to do as part of her speech. Do we not like it? Indeed we do not. And I do not think anyone here has really defended EG as a suave example of non-mistake-making charisma. But it wasn’t an institutionalized problem, nor a specific “fuck you” to women. And there is even some disagreement as to whether he was, in fact, even hitting on her (a point which has been brought up multiple times and never really sorted out).

    I think that the idea that
    “Women shouldn’t have to deal with constantly being hit on just because they are a minority at an atheist conference, if only because it’s annoying but also because it can be objectifying, therefore we should all, men and women, realize that”
    is one that pretty much everyone can agree on?

  • meko

    @crowepps Yes, that’s pretty much why I’ve decided that the atheist community is best experienced through the remove of the internet.

    I know that most people are pleasant enough, but it simply isn’t worth the stress of having a strange man follow me into a parking lot, touch my breasts and behind “accidentally” repeatedly in a bar, having someone follow me into an elevator or otherwise be harassed. I know that it is better if I make sure that I have a male escort at these events, but that too takes away from the experience.

    There are many places I could spend my time, and those where the vigorously defended norm is one where those who express discomfort at what is viewed as harassment in other environments aren’t worth visiting.

    I think the problem is the gender ratio, because I’ve been to Mensa meetings and based on my experiences there, those stickers exist for a reason. The fact is, though, I’m not prepared to make the sacrifice of being harassed, and then being attacked for complaining about harassment, for the sake of people who don’t believe that all people deserve to be treated with dignity.

    It’s also why I recommended that my college-aged niece not get involved with SSA unless she has a male escort. Based on my experience, the atheist community is pretty much like Mad Men without the fashion sense. Some nice people, but not worth putting up with the creepy behavior and the name calling of those who try to defend their boundaries.

  • crowepps

    But it wasn’t an institutionalized problem

    How can you say it wasn’t an institutionalized problem when the majority of men who blogged about it either insisted hitting on was the norm and women were being unreasonable to complain OR that the whole subject wasn’t important, they were bored, how’s a guy supposed to get laid then, can we talk about something else? If the ‘institution’ consists of its members there is indeed a problem.

  • Grifter

    Crowepps, I meant institutionalized in the sense of done by a person in authority, like say an organizer of the conference, equating to faculty of a school.

  • crowepps

    I meant institutionalized in the sense of done by a person in authority

    I saw quite a few posts expressing disappointment in Dawkin’s dismissive comment on the topic.

    In addition, if it had been done by one “person in authority”, getting through to that person would fix the problem.

    Instead, apparently a large segment of the atheist ‘culture’ needs their consciousness raised, which is much harder.

  • meko

    I loved Amanda Marcotte’s take on this, and the video link she posted below is just perfect.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=MZ1lc6KASWg

  • Nakor

    @Lena: Thank you for your understanding. I agree with your analogy, actually, but I think this has one point of difference from it, and that is how the anger has been handled. I’ve read Greta Christina’s piece on Atheists and Anger (for those who have not read it: essentially a piece about why anger is good, healthy and important — read it! And more importantly, its sequel.), which a lot of this discussion has brought to mind distinctly.

    The problem isn’t that people are angry or that they’re trying to do something about it, it’s just that so many people have gathered up their anger, taken aim, and pulled the trigger on anyone who looked like an enemy. Not so much now, mind; this thread has been much, much better than the rest. But it was certainly true at first, and for quite a long time.

    I completely respect the right to get angry over something like this, but one must use such anger correctly. It should be a more motivating force than battle-axe. At the beginning of all this, rage was just flying in all directions, and it was a battlefield rather than a discussion. Elsewhere, off this blog, it still is in many places.

    Amanda Marcotte, for example, paints Hemant as a sexist paternalist trying to silence the debate… just because he told people to calm down about it. This is not productive, this is making enemies and widening the schism. There are much more productive ways of making the intended criticism that seem to have been lost here.

    I think that maybe as a community we are not that used to arguing or debating with each other, and perhaps it is a skill that we need to recollect. We debate a lot with other groups, certainly, but the majority of the time within our own movement we are somewhere between majority agreement and unanimity. In this discussion we are all over the spectrum — which is fine! — but I think that we are so used to the unanimity that some people were perhaps a little too astounded when others didn’t agree right away.

    Perhaps we should look to other areas of disagreement as well, and try to learn the ways in which we have debated well, and poorly, and in the future begin such discussions on a much sounder footing.

    I’d like to leave everyone with this thought from the above linked post by Greta Christina:

    I’ll acknowledge that anger is a difficult tool in a social movement. A dangerous one even. It can make people act rashly; it can make it harder to think clearly; it can make people treat potential allies as enemies. In the worst-case scenario, it can even lead to violence. Anger is valid, it’s valuable, it’s necessary… but it can also misfire, and badly.

    Anger is good, valid, healthy, important, vital, necessary, motivating… but it must be used right.

  • meko

    This whole debate isn’t really different from the few atheist meet-ups I went to. It’s just the culture. If you are a woman, and you don’t have a male escort to run interference, and you decide to go to atheist events, you just have to expect this sort of behavior.

    It isn’t nice, it isn’t fair, but it’s the cultural norm. I wouldn’t go into a mosh pit without expecting to be shoved and I wouldn’t go to an atheist event without expecting someone to touch me inappropriately or try to corner me. I learned my lesson the first three times I went. And I decided not to go back.

    This is how a large enough percentage of atheists want things to be that it isn’t likely to change. Even those who consider themselves enlightened just think it’s kinda funny and not that important. How hard is it to understand? If you are a woman and you go to a CFI event or an atheist meetup or SSA, you are in the minority and should expected to be treated like a piece of meat. It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.

  • Grifter

    Dawkins didn’t hit on her in an elevator, that was my point. He is allowed to disagree with you.

  • Grifter

    And meko, “I wouldn’t go to an atheist event without expecting someone to touch me inappropriately or try to corner me.” –that’s always inappropriate. You shouldn’t EVER have to deal with that. I know that the atheist groups around here are NOT like that, or at least are not from my experience, and I try to look out for that kind of crap. If the groups out where you are are like that, you need to call them out on it. Don’t just not go and mention it in passing on blog comments, crow to high heaven about it. Some may say you’re overreacting, but I think sometimes even overreacting is good, at least it makes people think about the subject. And I do agree that this is a topic that should be talked about.

    That said, this original circumstance we are all talking about was not as bad as your experience, I believe you should be able to agree.

  • meko

    @Grifter – well, that’s what I had to deal with, and when I mentioned it, I was told “he’s OK, he’s just awkward, you have to get to know him” and “I’m sure it was an accident.”

    Honestly, the conversation wasn’t so good that it was worth pursuing it further.

    I compare this suggestion to try to change things to my brother’s decision to join the Knights of Columbus after Prop 8. It was his contention that the only way to get them to go back to raising money for hospitals and stop wasting their time fighting secular equality was to have a sane person on the board. Me, I wouldn’t have the patience. And I don’t have the patience to participate in the atheist community either.

  • meko

    I should have said face-to-face atheist community. I feel perfectly safe in the online atheist world. I don’t mind disagreement, it’s just the touching and following and cornering that bothers me.

  • http://skepticon.org Katie Hartman

    What those who are saying that the incident in the elevator was no big deal don’t seen to get is that there was no way for Watson to know that it wouldn’t turn into a big deal. That’s the reason it was creepy – that it had the potential to spiral out of control – just because it didn’t doesn’t make it less creepy. This is something that most women are intuitively aware of: the potential to find oneself in a dangerous position.

    I am not saying that any man could be a rapist….but instead that the woman cannot tell which category the man is in.

    Lynne and crowepps, QFT.

    Linke wrote:

    However it does bother me that my mere presence might discomfort her a great deal and that I might be perceived as a threat even though I mean only good or nothing at all.

    I think it would bother me, too. The question here is whether avoiding situations that make many women uncomfortable is best achieved through changing the men’s behavior or changing the women’s responses to it.

    I think changing the women’s responses will be a hard sell, for two reasons: (1) many (if not most) women have experienced a pretty extensive history of harassment, denigration, and/or assault; and (2) the cost of many ‘false hits’ in the elevator situation (incorrectly identifying a potential threat and consequently being on edge) is outweighed by the gain of being appropriately on edge when a true threat is present.

    I’m not saying men don’t have a right to proposition women whenever they like, but I am arguing that if they care about not causing discomfort, they shouldn’t do it when a woman is isolated and confined.

  • crowepps

    That said, this original circumstance we are all talking about was not as bad as your experience

    The whole POINT of bringing up the “original circumstance” was to use it in a talk about “why women don’t attend conferences” as an illustration of a persistent and wide spread cluelessness about the conflict between ‘acceptable male behavior’ everywhere else and the far more predatory open season “cultural norm” at conferences which is PERCEIVED to be that women “should expected to be treated like a piece of meat”.

    The point isn’t to RANK one experience against the other ala Richard Dawkins so the women with a mild case can be stifled but instead to show a GENERAL PROBLEM and say “You guys really want women at conferences? When romance and flirting slip into harassment and molestation this is not cute or amusing or trivial to the women involved and they are voting with their feet by staying away.”

    It is not the women’s responsibility to fix this, nor can they do so, because they are not respected, and certainly the reaction in this instance shows their complaints are rejected when they do “crow to high heaven”. Instead they are told they are taking things too seriously, that the guys are just inept, that they should cut them a break, etc., etc., see apologetics in posts above and various other places.

    You’re confident this doesn’t happen in your local groups? Ask the women to send in anonymous surveys about their experiences, because based on the storm that’s been dumped on Rebecca, they would be nuts to voluntarily disclose their discomfort publicly and get another helping of ‘overreacting’ or ‘being paranoid’ or ‘hysterical’. I’d suggest concentrating on those former members who don’t come to meetings anymore for unknown reasons.

    If you want the culture to change keep an eye on your fellow men for signs of creepiness, ally with the other grownups and use the power of male social pressure to straighten them out. The male atheist culture has been tolerating this behavior and defending those guilty of it as ‘merely socially awkward’ when complaints are made, and that has perpetuated and encouraged it. Look at how many posts say “men have a right to ask” and “women shouldn’t make a fuss”.

    If you agree this hurts the atheist movement as a whole, own your teensy portion of the problem in that you were oblivious to it happening or felt it was unimportant, be alert to it in future, and intervene when necessary with a scowl of disapproval from a source that the offender will respect so that the culture does change. More women will be likely to attend and the chances of people of both sexes who are interested finding a mutual attraction increase.

    It’s possible the reason PZ “gets it” is because he has a daughter in the hit-onable age, and it’s easier for him to look at the problem from the point of view of how he would like HER treated at conferences.

  • meko

    It happens in Chicago groups.

  • crowepps

    I’m not saying men don’t have a right to proposition women whenever they like, but I am arguing that if they care about not causing discomfort, they shouldn’t do it when a woman is isolated and confined.

    Well, shoot, I’m a geezer, I’ll say it. No, men do not have a right to proposition women out of the blue whenever they like. A proposition that has the personal interaction level of asking one person after another until you find someone who will lend you a dime for the phone is insulting and men shouldn’t do that because it’s creepy and objectifying.

    It’s also a major bummer for a woman who’s paid good money to attend a conference about atheism so she can THINK and DISCUSS to end up having exactly the same sort of non-atheism, non-intellectual conversations she can have at home for free by walking down the street and listening to ‘hey, hey, hey, I’d like some of that, baby!’

  • crowepps

    @ Meko — I think it happens in ALL the groups but usually the only indicator is somebody asking, “How come none of the women bother to come to meetings anymore? Why can’t they commit to the movement? What’s wrong with them?”

  • Lena

    I think that maybe as a community we are not that used to arguing or debating with each other, and perhaps it is a skill that we need to recollect. We debate a lot with other groups, certainly, but the majority of the time within our own movement we are somewhere between majority agreement and unanimity. In this discussion we are all over the spectrum — which is fine! — but I think that we are so used to the unanimity that some people were perhaps a little too astounded when others didn’t agree right away.

    That’s absolutely true. I don’t keep up with the atheist blogosphere much so this is my first experience with this issue, but you see this all over with groups that focus on social issues. Part of me has been a bit amused at the discussion here, because…well, go to a mainstream feminist site and try to start a discussion about the treatment of race and class issues in the feminist movement. You will see a lot of very similar responses that the “Team Rebecca” side got, right down to the “We’re all on the same side! These issues just serve to divide and weaken us!”

    Like you said, a big part of it is simply being unprepared to debate someone you consider an ally, but it’s also a problem of people feeling cornered. When the unifying theme of a group is being some kind of minority–of being oppressed in some way–it’s a bit of shock to be told that you (the group as a whole, not a particular individual) is sometimes seen as an “oppressor” of another group. Defensiveness ensues and people get so focused on proving that they’re not bad people that they can’t see that the discussion isn’t meant to be a personal accusation.

  • Grifter

    @crowepps:

    You misunderstand me once again. I can speak with confidence that there is no inappropriate touching in any group I’ve witnessed. Inappropriate touching is something that is fairly objective. What women feel like in interactions is fairly subjective. I would not be surprised if sometimes the women in groups do feel bad about their interactions. It happens. And it is a problem to be addressed. But it’s not what I was saying. I was addressing the inappropriate touching that supposedly happened multiple times. Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, but three times is enemy action, as the saying goes, and I’m sorry that meko had to deal with it. It shouldn’t happen.

    To try to help you understand the point of view of the opposite side, imagine RW’s complaint was that a man was looking at her during her speech. That would be obviously her problem alone, right? That behavior is normal and expected, she is giving a talk. Her reading into it is her problem (barring weird behavior, but let’s assume for this discussion there isn’t any). If she said she was creeped out and how dare men look at her when she’s speaking in public, it would be fair to say she is wrong, I think most of us would agree. If he had touched her inappropriately, I think everyone here would agree that HE was wrong. Everything else is a spectrum. You feel he was on the wrong end of the spectrum, others feel there is not enough evidence to condemn him.

    But it’s your comment here that’s the most telling: “No, men do not have a right to proposition women out of the blue whenever they like.” Yes. Yes they do. It’s called free speech. Speech isn’t always great, or something you agree with, but it is still something you have the right to. You have the right to say the things you’ve been saying. I have the right to disagree. EG has the right to be socially awkward, and RW has the right to complain about it. For you to say that that is not so, is rather bothersome. What right do you have to say he can’t say what he pleases? Just because you find it offensive? It is in keeping with your problem with the judicial system. How DARE the defense try to defend someone who’s clearly a rapist! I recognize problems, don’t get me wrong, but your stance seems VERY skewed. Innocent until proven guilty, and free speech are cornerstones of a free society. There are some negatives with all freedoms, and the best we can do is try to deal with them. So long as women and men have sex sometimes, there will be awkward sitautions. We can try to help with it, but do not equate a bad pass (again, if that’s even what it was) with inappropriate touching. They are miles apart, and are NOT the same problem, nor are they symptomatic of the same problem (necessarily. Depending on circumstance, they might be, but you seem to be coming from the perspective that it definitely is, even though it has been established that there are a lot of questions).

    @Lena: I agree with many of your points. I think it’s also worth noting that the opposite sometimes happens, that sometimes a group can be so focused on being the victim they see victimization where none exists. The problem is when we can’t discuss rationally; emotions DO always come into play, of course, but so long as we can debate rationally I think we’ll all come through.

  • meko

    Free speech also allows people to shout racial epithets. That doesn’t make it polite, considerate or kind. Street preachers have a right to stand on the sidewalk and tell everyone they are going to hell, but that doesn’t mean that they have the right to have people think they’re a good person.

    Actually the multiple touching I experience was from multiple people at the same event. Yes there was a guy or two at each that “accidentally” bumped breast or behind 2-3 times, but it was more then bizarre number of “oopses” that threw the event off. And no one seemed to see it, it was just a shoulder here, brushing up from behind while trying to get the attention of the bartender there. If it had been a crowded bar, I might not even have thought some of them odd.

    Really, the boob-bumping was not as scary as the car following. I was still in the bar.

    This is why I decided not to stick around to be the new meat any longer. It’s the atheist community. It just is. Be frustrated and stay and fight or enjoy your Saturday night. Those seem to be the choices.

  • http://happyatheists.com Slickninja

    Please, Hemant, last post on this…

  • Grifter

    meko, I agree that some speech is bad. I explicitly said so. But crowepps claimed that men don’t have the right to free speech. I find that offensive. crowepps is free to say it, but I vehemently disagree. Doesn’t mean I like the speech, just that I recognize that without free speech most of us would be in jail.

    And, meko, I also wonder if you may, possibly, be over-sensitive. Without seeing everything in action, your story seems…odd. You first seemed to say that it was 1 guy, and that you were told “he’s just weird”, now you say there were multiple from multiple people. It MIGHT be that they aren’t used to women who are sensitive about their personal space. I know women who don’t think twice about being as bumped into as men unless it’s DONE in a sexual manner. What you describe seems that either it was truly innocent or that they were hiding their true intentions which, since you didn’t go back, means you cannot really be certain. Just as you expect THEM to understand your personal space issues, if we assume no malice on their part, you should be understanding of their lack of contact with women. But, again, I wasn’t there. Far be it from me to call you a liar or diminish your feelings. But on the flip side you can’t expect everyone to take everything you say exactly as you say it. And you should at least entertain the notion you may have misinterpreted the situation.

    I am also confused how a car can follow you when you’re still in the bar? I may have misread…

  • allison

    @Alison, her segue was to find fault with a fellow blogger for having opinions that were different from her own regarding EG, not to talk about EG. She believes that the other blogger has “anti-woman”, “misogynist” views because the other woman disagrees with her being upset by the incident. I don’t disagree that there are issues all over society with the treatment of women, I do disagree with what she did.

    @Grifter, if what is being complained about is the community’s approach toward incidents such as these, it is not at all off-topic.

    Back to what I wrote earlier:

    When this stuff happens to you repeatedly and the reaction from the community is that all these cases are individual and you have little right to be concerned, well, it does cross over into an acceptance of the objectification of women in the environment. In short, I’m personally less concerned about EG himself than in the overall hesitance in the community to note a pattern and deal with it if that makes sense.

    Again, while what EG did was inconsiderate, what is being complained about by most of the women I see on these boards is that the community does not treat this as a problem and that the reaction is generally one of “this is just one person, nothing to get concerned about.” What is being discussed is that this is how the community treats the problem and that it’s a really unacceptable response. And yes, it is very, very basic feminism to realize that this sort of response is standard in a hostile environment and to notice that “it’s not a big deal” is feeding into it.

    Now, I am going to be in the minority here and say that there are absolutely environments where people do not have the right to hit on others. For example, I teach for a living and my hitting on a student would be completely inappropriate even though some of my students are my own age. While people in workplaces do get together, if women were to be hit upon over and over again by co-workers, that would also be considered a hostile environment situation. It may be worth considering that while the stuff in the bar was social, in a sense RW was still “at work” while there.

  • allison

    Really, the boob-bumping was not as scary as the car following. I was still in the bar.

    Is this roughly what you meant?
    “Really, the boob-bumping was not as scary as the car following because I was in the bar when the boob-bumping took place.”

  • meko

    The cornerer who kept trying to back me into the edge of the bar was one guy, the brushing up was just the way these guys rolled. Generous interpretation – not enough spacial sense to stand near people without brushing up against them. More realistic – some of them were copping a feel.

    The street follower in one event left the bar 2 seconds after me and followed the same route even after I switched to the other side of the street. Maybe he was just another “shy guy who didn’t want to face rejection in front of anyone” who lost interest when I started speed walking to my car after 1/2 a block. Maybe he just happened to cross the street at the same time I did mid block. In any case, given that it was a guy who had already done plenty of not backing off in the bar, I wasn’t going to chance it by slowing down.

    As to the parking lot following incident, once I got in the car, he changed directions. Maybe he was just confused and thought his car was near mine, I don’t know. But it’s just not worth it. It’s not worth going through all of these weird incidents that don’t happen when I’m at other social groups.

    But what do the atheist groups care? It’s not about making women safe or making them comfortable. It’s about making things easier for shy guys who want a group where they aren’t expected to follow the same social norms men manage to follow elsewhere. There will always be new women to serve as fresh meat later.

  • meko

    Yes, allison, that’s what I meant. Someone brushing up me, possibly accidentally when I’m surrounded by people in a bar is annoying but not that threatening. Being alone on a dark side-street with no one around and having the same guy following me is scary.

  • crowepps

    Fine, fine, fine — I’ll agree that “free speech” entitles men to be offensive and proposition women out of the blue and ruin the women’s conference experience by treating them like mindless meat sacks so long as you agree that the women have a reciprocal free speech right to respond by screaming, “Pervert! Creep! Get away from me! Fuck off and die!”

    I’m sure people also have a free speech right to talk loudly on their cell phones in the audience at talks because people have a right to say whatever they want without considering how doing so impacts anyone else.

    I suppose people have a free speech right to pay their way into the conference and shout Bible verses during the various talks and ruin the conference for everyone altogether.

    No social norms established, no conventions of politeness recognized, nobody is under any obligation to restrain his or her speech in any way to try to be considerate of others because, hey, Freedom! Constitutional Rights! Nobody Can Tell Men What To Do!

    I won’t be attending and neither will most other women who don’t want to fend off the clueless, the overly entitled and the rapists hiding among them. I plan to bookmark this thread and link to it as a response to queries about “What are conferences like? Would I have fun?”

    You fellas have fun all by yourselves.

  • rabrav
  • Grifter

    Allison, 1, thanks for clearing that up. I’m sure it was my mis-reading.
    2, “if what is being complained about is the community’s approach toward incidents such as these, it is not at all off-topic.” The talk that RW was giving was NOT on this subject. It was on the religious right. I never said she was “wrong” to bring it up in the first place, only that she might have been wrong, in my opinion, in her assessment, but that wasn’t the point. What I was saying was inappropriate was her using her platform on a different topic to talk about this.

    @meko, I think that what you describe is certainly not fantastic, and wasn’t engineered to make you comfortable. But while I agree that it wasn’t helpful to the concept of getting women comfortable, I also think that what you describe, on its surface, does not rise to the level of ethically wrong. I can make decisions not to do things that might be perfectly acceptable to help keep someone within their comfort level, but the question is am I ethically required to do that? Because that’s how it frequently comes off. If you’re just calling the idiots stupid for behaving like that then wondering why more women don’t come, then that’s fair enough. If you’re saying they are IN THE WRONG for not coming completely around to your perspective without any effort on your part to help them with it, then I think there is a discussion there. And, again, I wasn’t there, so while I may question your interpretation of events, that doesn’t mean I say they are definitely invalid.

    @Crowepps: I agree. I wish more women would respond in that manner. Make a scene, that’s totally your right and, while I’m not justifying bad behavior, I think that sometimes some people interpret NOT making a scene as tacit assent. Again, not justifying it, but I think that it might help.

    However, you confuse people’s right to free speech as though there are no limits. For example, you could be ejected from a talk for disrupting it, and that’s perfectly acceptable. Of course there are limits. YOUR limits, however, seem ridiculous to me. Based on what you’ve said, in your opinion a man can only talk to a woman if she allows it, and must have on hand a list of all possible offensive/misinterpretable slang, since you have yet to entertain the notion that he didn’t mean to be offensive, and you lay all blame at his feet as some terrible person.

    You have consistently misinterpreted what I said, and exagerrated my position. YOU are being unreasonable. Understanding is a two-way street that you seem to be unwilling to travel along, and I’m sorry about that. Not once have you actually addressed my points about the fact that this whole situation has several different facets, some of which we don’t know the reality behind. You act like he was a misogynist based on scanty information. You act like men are the only ones with any responsibility, and have only the rights granted them by women (you never said WOMEN can’t hit on men, only that men can’t hit on women). Although this whole incident has brought this subject to the fore, which is good, I think it is perfectly acceptable to question whether this incident is ACTUALLY a good example of the problems, or is instead an attempt by someone with an agenda to make a point. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But there is certainly room for debate, and the fact you can’t seem to accept that bothers me. But I often catch a bad case of SIWOTI, which is why I’ve kept trying.

  • Nakor

    If I may bend the topic for a moment, I notice that a major theme of this is that it happened at an atheist conference. Discussing the topic and raising awareness is of course a good thing, but it’s probably insufficient if the goal is to reduce or eliminate the frequency with which problems like this happen.

    So I’d like to brainstorm.

    If you were an organizer at an atheist conference, and were tasked with helping ensure the sorts of problems discussed in this thread were eliminated or kept to a minimum, what steps would you consider taking? Let’s get some ideas out there.

    (And if I may, for the moment I’d suggest thinking more about quantity of ideas, and less about quality; that is, don’t worry about the cost, number of people, locations, overall effectiveness etc. that might be involved in ideas for now. Just get lots out there.)

  • meko

    The Mensa stickers idea might be helpful. It shouldn’t be necessary, but for those who are genuinely confused, and to thwart those who pretend to be confused, it could make a difference.

    http://www.blaghag.com/2011/07/ssacons-new-sticker-code.html

  • Vokoun

    “Like you said, a big part of it is simply being unprepared to debate someone you consider an ally, but it’s also a problem of people feeling cornered. When the unifying theme of a group is being some kind of minority–of being oppressed in some way–it’s a bit of shock to be told that you (the group as a whole, not a particular individual) is sometimes seen as an “oppressor” of another group. Defensiveness ensues and people get so focused on proving that they’re not bad people that they can’t see that the discussion isn’t meant to be a personal accusation.”

    I think the meta-question overhanging this entire shitstorm is whether we can actually have a debate over the neo-standpoint feminist ontology that seems dominant (let’s call it feministing feminism). About whether privilege is conceptually useful, an accurate way to characterize relations in the social world, or a concept that is strong enough to become the immediate response and first tool brought out of the argumentative chest. About whether the social world is actually constituted primarily by cohesive webs of power inequalities existing on a socialized and not individualized level and about if a person’s defining characteristics (at least in a comment thread) is their place in those webs vis-a-vis their minority, majority, privileged, and underprivileged status.

    I.E. both of the “explaining privilege to the heretics” sites (because once you understand it, there’s no other option than “getting it”) that keep getting linked to both make the point that bearing privilege is nobody’s fault and not something to be used in bashing a person (unless they don’t come around to feministing feminism, then they’re in shit). Privilege seems to serve the function of original sin here – a fallen status you bear by virtue of some collective identity that is out of your intentional control.

    Unfortunately, the function of privilege in the Great Skeptical Feminist Discourse seems to have become the new QED – used to disqualify and shut down arguments unless the initial author agrees with the fundamental philosophical precepts of feministing feminism. Maybe a new shibboleth, even, a marker of those who have “gotten it” and the unwashed masses who refuse to recognize their place in the great, socialized power relations of standpoint feminist thought.

    tldr; yay feminism, yay skepticism, boo passing one variant of feminism (codeword: privilege) off as the only possible one and running under unquestioned consensus about the veracity and usefulness of that variant’s precepts vis-a-vis, say, choice feminism.

  • allison

    What I was saying was inappropriate was her using her platform on a different topic to talk about this.

    I think that briefly inserting how the atheist community treats women is pertinent information in one of these talks. Certainly a reminder that we’re not perfect is in order. It sounds as if in the early parts of RW’s talks she focuses on examples, and yes, perspective in terms of the similarities and differences in how the communities treat women is, I think, appropriate and useful. Otherwise, how are we supposed to understand context?

    I’m just going to go ahead and quote myself from another thread here on the same issue. Here I was responding to the idea that atheists don’t share any common ground and so RW expecting that a room full of people listening to her speak about how the religious right treats women share at least some of her ideas is ridiculous, but I think this part of my response is still what I’m looking for here.

    Is there not a place for something other than simply patting ourselves on the back as far as women’s rights within the atheist community, as loose as it is, are concerned? While, as atheists, we don’t necessarily agree on anything else, if we’re talking about the religious right waging a “war against women” then that says we have a different view than they do about how women should be treated, about what policies are and are not beneficial, and about the role women play in our society. As a result, I would assume that those in the audience who are friendly to the message that the religious right is waging such a war also have some sort of common ground in their view of what sorts of actions are harmful and what sorts are better.

    Because there is a view here of what sorts of actions are better and we’re saying that we’re friendlier and better than the religious right is, then I don’t think a reminder that, while we are indeed doing better than they are, we know we’re not perfect is remiss.

  • allison

    If you were an organizer at an atheist conference, and were tasked with helping ensure the sorts of problems discussed in this thread were eliminated or kept to a minimum, what steps would you consider taking? Let’s get some ideas out there.

    I’m going to go with one idea I read earlier on a different thread here about women getting hit on constantly at conferences: set up a time and place for those interested in meat-market/potential dates to get together and meet each other. I also think the sticker idea has some promise. My main worry with the sticker idea is that someone who might be open to meeting people for dating/sex purposes at some point might be subjected to it all the freaking time.

  • Vokoun

    connecting feminist theory then to the immortalized EG – the divide lies over whether his actions were just awkward, clumsy, naive but honest enough, not much of a threat, whatever, or whether they were sexist and misogynistic (probably not consciously or intentionally) by virtue of fitting himself within wider social networks of power inequalities through not recognizing his various privileges (not having to be worried about sexual assault all the time, not recognizing his objectification of an unequal person, etc).

    The meta-skepticism question then is whether we can have that argument without proponents of the former being told their privilege is showing, they don’t get it, they’re parroting sexism, etc – in other words, passing one theoretical variant of feminism off (with its conceptual apparatus – privilege and social power inequalities) as the codified and reified revealed truth with no room for honest conceptual dissent.

  • Grifter

    The problem with a sticker system, etc., is that it doesn’t allow for change on the fly, and while someone may not want to be spoken to, they may change their mind when the context arises. And since even an innocent comment can be misinterpreted, I think it will not solve the problem.

    I think that there are a lot of societal problems here, including the fact that in heteronormative society men are generally EXPECTED to have to make the first move. There needs to be a holistic approach. I’d like it if there was more talk at the conferences about not doing it (in the flyers, some panels dedicated to the topic, etc.) I would LOVE it if women responded strongly, because honestly I think that’s the only way some people will learn, and also, if someone goes “Jesus, are you really propositioning me at 4 AM?” (or, if the sticker system existed, “are you color blind?”), that gives the person the opportunity to respond, if they really were being innocent, or to be shamed if that’s what they deserve. However, I think that alone isn’t fair to put on women, so honestly I don’t know what else to do. Maybe the sticker solution is the best because we’re all just so damn dumb, but I don’t think the sticker would have helped in this situation unless she had the “hell no, I don’t want to talk to anyone” version, which wouldn’t make sense for her meet-and-greet. Maybe a sliding tag? Red when you want it to, green when you want it to? Or having a handful of stickers that you can frequently change out? Giving the ability to change on the fly allows someone to be unapproachable if they want to be, while allowing them to change their mind without cheapening the sticker system (if someone with a hell no sticker DOES start chatting with people, it makes it a valid question whether the NEXT red sticker person is also willing to chat, even though they’ve done all they can to prevent it). Without a holistic approach, I do agree that a “tag” system may well be the best way to fix the problem…the real question is, are any organizers going to implement it to test?

  • Hitch

    I object to those name tags and stickers. It encourage to constantly staring at each other’s chests. (and I’m kidding, though not completely)

    How about we learn to talk to each other and treat each others appropriately? Seems more sensible than stickers.

    Or to put it more bluntly, if I needed a colored sticker for every situation that can happen that makes me uncomfortable, there is no way that can fit anywhere. How about we just have discourse about etiquette that works, a discourse incidentally that is sorely needed. But that of course should include discourse about how people can get to know each other, not just how the better avoid each other.

  • crowepps

    However, you confuse people’s right to free speech as though there are no limits.

    So a man making a proposition out of the blue to a strange woman has the right to say whatever he pleases because her annoyance, even fear, at being approached by him doesn’t outweigh his right of free speech, do I have that right?

    But as soon as anyone ELSE is being inconvenienced or annoyed, all of a sudden free speech has limits?

    How come sexual propositions are fully protected speech to which no one is allowed to object but other types of speech have limits? So far as I’m aware there isn’t any Constitutional Right to Boink.

  • Lena

    The sticker thing would make me giggle if I actually saw it put to use. It just sounds like a joke. And it’s too contrived.

    I like the idea of having an event specifically for socializing of the fun-possibly-sexy-times variety, but I’m not sure if that would actually fix the problem. Especially if, as Hemant says in his most reason post, men far outnumber women anyway.

    if someone goes “Jesus, are you really propositioning me at 4 AM?” (or, if the sticker system existed, “are you color blind?”), that gives the person the opportunity to respond, if they really were being innocent, or to be shamed if that’s what they deserve.

    I really like this. It’s like a smack upside the head. I think if this were to happen every single time a woman were made to feel uncomfortable by an inappropriate advance there might be some positive change. It’ll be slow, but that kind of change always is.

  • Grifter

    Hitch, you’re right of course. But it remains a fact that women feel uncomfortable at gatherings, and while a a paradigm iftsh along those lines would be great, I think that there is value in trying to find something that’ll work right now

  • Grifter

    @crowepps, you are once again being dense, and cherrypicking a single quote while ignoring the rest of my post. I ADDRESSED WHAT YOU ARE SAYING. No, I do not believe that the state has the right to limit speech that isn’t literally dangerous (the old “fire” in a theater trope). I believe that private organizations have the right to limit speech in the sense that you may be thrown out of the event for inappropriate conduct, in much the same way as a teacher who swears a blue streak at a student will not be arrested, but will be fired. It doesn’t mean the teacher doesn’t have a right to do it, it means the school has an EQUAL right to fire him/her.

    And no, I don’t believe your suggested limit is at all rational, nor fair to a prospective convention-goer, even if we accept it as a local rule, rather than a modification of a right. You still haven’t acknowledged that the comment MIGHT have been innocent, and even if it WASN’T, is it not true that sometimes when a woman is hit on, she responds? Not in this case, but it does happen. You propose that men have no right to be anything but perceptive an suave; that if they aren’t they lose the right to speak to a woman. Do you not see how that is unfair?

  • crowepps

    I wasn’t talking about the State limiting anything. You were the one who dragged in freedom of speech and an absolute right to say ‘how about a bang then?’ to strangers.

    I was saying that male to male peer pressure MIGHT get it through to overly entitled pickup artists AND to the socially inept that skeevy advances bordering on harassment aren’t appreciated by either the women OR the organizers.

    You’re the one who seems to think this is all men are capable of, and that an additional five to ten minutes of chat about the conference, the speakers and the weather as preliminaries would tax them beyond their socialization limits. At an absolute minimum one would think an exchange of NAMES should happen before the proposition.

    I don’t demand that men be perceptive or suave, just suggest that they be given coaching in not using tactics that make them easy to confuse with rapists, because that behavior normalizes the tactics which provides cover for any actual rapists present. I find it hard to understand what is “unfair” about promulgating those minimum standards, since the women aren’t door prizes and none of the men is entitled to talk to them. Certainly nobody of either gender is EVER entitled to sex.

    I’m surprised you haven’t yet expressed outrage at PZ’s suggestion that men who want to get laid take a bath. After all, they have a RIGHT to be sweaty and stinky while they try to hook up and it’s unfair of the women to resist merely because some men are hygiene challenged.

  • Grifter

    You once again ignore my points while being dismissive and rude.

    YOU said men don’t have a right to express themselves. Do you take it back?

    You DID NOT mention peer pressure before now. The shifting sands of your argument shift again.

  • sectus

    A homophobic cartoon? Classy. Very classy.

    (Hemant says: Plenty of other atheist blogs posted it, too. Are you saying this there as well?)

  • crowepps

    Gee, climb about a third of the way back up the thread to my comment at 1:01 p.m. yesterday and right there in plain sight is a suggestion that peer pressure might be an appropriate technique.

    I am deliberately avoiding the derail attempts in your repeated attributions to me of things I’ve never said, your skewed understanding of my statements, your snotty comments about what I think/believe/am claiming, in order to focus on your insistence that men are ENTITLED to believe that women who show up at these conferences should be there for general boinking, therefore men have a right to bluntly proposition them. The women apparently have to tolerate this because, hey, the men are sensitive and may just be inept and women in the Congo/India/Syria have it a lot worse.

    I’ve been around way too long to be angry over the persistence of sexism that’s been around since before I was born, and I’m pretty much immune to attempts to use loaded language and deliberate misunderstandings to piss me off. I’m not even interested in ‘winning the argument’, whatever ‘winning’ might have morphed into at this point.

    Instead what I have been trying to do since yesterday is make the point that if suggestions for cultural changes are put in place to make atheist conferences more welcoming to women, it will result in more women in attendance, which will not only be good for the ’cause’, but will increase the potential for finding someone compatible and increase the possiblity of hooking up. It should be a win-win.

    It’s difficult to think of any logical reason for men to be so resistent to giving up being creepy, harassing and entitled if doing so would actually result in more sex, but apparently some men are so focused on being disrespectful and making women uncomfortable to prove to their buddies they’re not ‘whipped’ they can’t see how they would benefit from the change.

  • Grifter

    “in order to focus on your insistence that men are ENTITLED to believe that women who show up at these conferences should be there for general boinking, therefore men have a right to bluntly proposition them.” Never said that. And she wasn’t bluntly propositioned. I have all along maintained that there is no certainty she was propositioned at all, but that even if she was, that while it is a bad thing to do, it is inappropriate to say a man “doesn’t have the right” to talk to a woman.

    “Instead what I have been trying to do since yesterday is make the point that if suggestions for cultural changes are put in place to make atheist conferences more welcoming to women, it will result in more women in attendance, which will not only be good for the ’cause’, but will increase the potential for finding someone compatible and increase the possiblity of hooking up. It should be a win-win.”

    Bullshit. You have said that men don’t have the right to talk to women. You have said that repeatedly, and when I asked if you took it back, you have yet to.

    If you are saying that behavior changes will bring more women, and that is a good thing, then I agree with that. If you’re saying that people shouldn’t be creepy, I agree with that. But when you say that men don’t have the right to talk to women unless they are given permission, then we disagree. If you say that we should always assume the worst in a given man (as in this case where you have yet to acknowledge that he MIGHT NOT HAVE MEANT SEX) then we disagree. If you say that being socially awkward is a moral failing, then we disagree.

  • Grifter

    So, again, to clarify:

    We do not know if he was really propositioning her. If he was not, then SHE is the one who misread the situation, neh?

    If he was propositioning her: 1, it wasn’t blunt because he used a euphemism, which doesn’t excuse much but nonetheless is to be noted. 2, as is the case if he was not propositioning her, his euphemism doesn’t IGNORE what she said, it directly addresses it. 3, He had the right to do it, although that does not mean he was not a douchebag for doing it. Being a douchebag is everyone’s right, otherwise the folks on Jersey Shore would be in a gulag right now. That doesn’t make it “good”, that just means it’s part of the human experience that some people will be very different from the type of person you want to associate with. You accept it and move on. As I said earlier, I would have completely defended her right to screech at him in response. In fact, I would have preferred it, since if he was being innocent he might have defended himself by saying so, which might have prevented this storm in the first place.

    You have repeatedly laid this problem solely at the foot of the men, but I would argue that the women have to accept some share of the burden of communicating effectively, by occasionally giving the benefit of the doubt and communicating based on that assumed mutual respect, otherwise the status quo will never change, because people will ALWAYS commit faux pas. Shit happens.

  • crowepps

    You have said that men don’t have the right to talk to women. You have said that repeatedly, and when I asked if you took it back, you have yet to.

    And I won’t take it back, because NOBODY has a RIGHT to talk to anybody. The default of courtesy is always that other people have the right to be left alone.

    If you are saying that behavior changes will bring more women, and that is a good thing, then I agree with that. If you’re saying that people shouldn’t be creepy, I agree with that. But when you say that men don’t have the right to talk to women unless they are given permission, then we disagree.

    Because men have the RIGHT to talk to women when the women don’t want them to?

    If you say that we should always assume the worst in a given man (as in this case where you have yet to acknowledge that he MIGHT NOT HAVE MEANT SEX) then we disagree.

    And you have yet to acknowledge that EVEN IF HE DIDN’T MEAN SEX no woman is obligated to give him the benefit of the doubt because HER first obligation is not to his feelings but to her own SAFETY.

    If you say that being socially awkward is a moral failing, then we disagree.

    I happen to be socially awkward myself, but my response to that has been a little different. Instead of announcing that my social awkwardness means I get to do whatever I want and then play the ‘cripple card’ and whine when somebody says I’m being rude, I’m hypersensitive and memorize etiquette suggestions so that my manners are on the stiff and formal side.

    For instance, if stopping a stranger on the street to ask the time, the suggested formula is “Excuse me for bothering you, but could you give me the time?” because I have NO RIGHT TO TALK TO HIM WITHOUT ASKING HIS PERMISSION.

  • crowepps

    If your personality dictates that you must start a conversation with complete strangers, start with light discussion about weather or current events. Avoid topics that may get cut off when one of you reaches their destination floor. Gentlemen should use extra caution when starting conversations with women they do not know – especially if the elevator is in a parking garage or empty building.

    http://www.elevatorrules.com/rules/talking-and-singing/

  • crowepps

    You have repeatedly laid this problem solely at the foot of the men, but I would argue that the women have to accept some share of the burden of communicating

    Now this is absolutely the crux of the issue, because in my view women have NO OBLIGATION TO COMMUNICATE WHATSOEVER. Neither do men for that matter.

    Anyone who wants to attend should be able to pay their fee, arrive at the event, listen to every single lecture, eat their meals, look at all the books and t-shirts and bumper stickers and never say one word to another person during the entire time if they don’t care to.

    When spoken to by a stranger, they have an absolute right to ignore the person, turn around and walk away, or point to their mouths and shake their heads. There is no burden of communicating because they are not OBLIGATED to interact with the other people there. Maybe they cannot speak. Maybe they have taken a vow of silence until Congress fully funds Head Start. Maybe their only language is an obscure dialect known to only one other person in the world and they can’t understand what anyone else is saying.

    There isn’t any “burden of communicating” because people voluntarily CHOOSE to communicate and the burden of getting across a REQUEST remains with the person asking for something without other people being REQUIRED to make up for their deficits. Because we are civilized, most people are WILLING to go that extra mile, but nobody, NOBODY gets to ASSUME they can communicate awkwardly or offensively or badly and then feel ENTITLED to have other people carry the load.

    You keep ignoring the CONTEXT. The problem in this case was the CONTEXT. No matter what his intent, the time and place and lack of prior contact was the problem.

    In addition, you are totally ignoring the fact that those women who are EXPLAINING THE PROBLEM OF THE CONTEXT are indeed sharing the burden of communicating because they are saying this type of communicating comes across as creepy NO MATTER WHAT THE INTENT. They are voluntarily assuming part of the burden of communicating with a USEFUL TIP – ‘We’ll communicate better if you don’t creep me out’.

    Here’s another one — men should not stand close to the door of the women’s restroom and ask the women who exit “Want to come up to my room for a cup of coffee?” “Want to come up to my room for a cup of coffee?” Because no matter WHAT THE INTENT the women will find the context so far as STRANGER and PLACE inappropriate and think it’s creepy. They might even go find someone and make a complaint because even though being socially awkward is NOT a moral failing, civilized people make efforts to learn basic rules so they don’t come across as creepy.

    Your position comes across to me as ‘men have an absolute free speech right to ask for sex if they use transparent euphemisms’ and ‘women have an OBLIGATION to allow men to approach them AT ANY TIME AND PLACE’. I’ll agree with the first. I do not agree with the second. The reason ‘excuse me’ is the polite convention is because no one has a RIGHT to approach strangers. In addition, women are not public access facilities.

  • Grifter

    “In addition, you are totally ignoring the fact that those women who are EXPLAINING THE PROBLEM OF THE CONTEXT are indeed sharing the burden of communicating because they are saying this type of communicating comes across as creepy NO MATTER WHAT THE INTENT”

    To them. Not as a universal. Just to them. Other women have said they wouldn’t have an issue with it at all. So, again, he was supposed to know her mind, is your point, and NOT knowing her mind was inherently ‘wrong’.

    “Your position comes across to me as ‘men have an absolute free speech right to ask for sex if they use transparent euphemisms’ and ‘women have an OBLIGATION to allow men to approach them AT ANY TIME AND PLACE’. I’ll agree with the first. I do not agree with the second. The reason ‘excuse me’ is the polite convention is because no one has a RIGHT to approach strangers. In addition, women are not public access facilities.” I never said that. Actually, my euphemism comment was more about the fact that you keep misrepresenting the fact. Including the fact that you STILL haven’t acknowledged the possibility that he might NOT HAVE MEANT ANYTHING SEXUAL. So I will flat out ask you: why don’t you think there’s any chance? No chance that, hell, maybe he was gay? Or married? And that he truly didn’t mean sex?

    Time and place matter. RW was in a public place. What I said is that people have the right to speak. Perhaps I should have specified in public. I implied it when I mentioned that as much as a person has a right to speak, so too do the owners of the place their in have a right to eject you. However, that wasn’t the case here. She was in public, therefore someone spoke to her. You act as though that is ridiculous on its face. This is not ridiculous. She could have ignored him. She chose not to. You actually have a total RIGHT to approach strangers in public. It’s considered impolite, hence the “excuse me”. The fact that you don’t see a difference between politeness and rights blows my mind. I’ve said all along that there is a good chance he was being impolite, even douchey, but to say that he did not have a right to speak to someone in public without permission is laughable on its face. By that same token, she had the right to respond however she saw fit. That’s how free speech works. It’s why the Westboro Baptist folks aren’t in jail, even though I think we can all agree that their speech is far more objectionable than EG’s. He approached her once and did not pursue it further. You maintain that was not his right. So therefore, he can only speak in public to those who give him permission, about subjects that they give him permission to speak about, appears to be your perspective. And ‘him’ carries over into all men. Can you not see how I would find it problematic?

    When someone gets in an elevator, someone else may say “hold the door!” The ywon’t say excuse me, and they are making a request of you. You don’t have to do it. Just as RW didn’t have to do anything for EG. But how are the situations fundamentally different? Just because you CLAIM it’s about sex? Even if it is, so what? I understand saying that, provided we DON’T give him the benefit of the doubt and assume the worst (which is what you have done all along), that it can be uncomfortable, and prevent women from coming. A valid point, and I never denied it. But you have said “He didn’t have the right to say that!” and you don’t base that on any argument, at least not thus far, except by twisting my responses.

    And on the subject of the obligation of communication, my point was that there is a problem with communication. We have all agreed we would like it fixed. Granted, no, there is no OBLIGATION to fix it, but we for the most part agree we want it fixed. It APPEARS as though, in your mind, it is fixed only by men, because they are totally in the wrong, and women need to nothing to fix any problems. I state that there are problems on both sides (and example, in my mind, being my recurring point that he MAY NOT HAVE MEANT SEX, that you continually ignore, assuming the worst…not constructive on your part, is it? I don’t think so anyway. On the flip side, EG needs to understand that he’s #1000000 on the list of men who have hit on RW tonight, and no matter how compatible he thinks they are, she’s unlikely to want to hang out, even for just coffee, at 4am, jet lag or not).

  • crowepps

    My son is a college professor and attends a lot of academic conferences, so I asked for his perspective. I gave him the scenario, first approach, elevator, 4:00 AM, come to my room for coffee? His opinion: Creepy. Creepy no matter what the gender of the persons involved because it is a violation of the social norms for a stranger to invite you from a public place to a private place under his/her own control at an inappropriate time for STARTING a conversation.

    If you want to defend the right of the socially clueless to CONTINUE to offend people on the basis of their Free Speech rights, go ahead. It seems to me much kinder to do exactly what Rebecca did and say — Helpful hint: Creepy! Woman is afraid! Woman runs away!

    It also seems to me that as I understand the definition of “the problem” Rebecca was originally addressing it wasn’t “how can socially clueless conference attendees get laid” but instead “why are conference attendees and speakers overwhelmingly White Males?”

    In solving THAT problem, it is not going to accomplish anything to insist women’s reasons for staying away are evidence the women are irrational, paranoid, overly sensitive, hostile to men and sex-phobic.

    Guess what, a lot of bumph on the internet about how at skeptics conferences the men are socially clueless and excuse themselves for being offensive by talking about Free Creepy Speech Rights and insisting they’re not actually offensive because they didn’t rape anybody and the women are just irrational, paranoid, overly sensitive, hostile to men and sex-phobic is NOT going to encourage attendence. At this point, as a woman too old to be hit on, I wouldn’t go to one in Hawaii in February if somebody gave me free tickets and paid my plane fare.

    Wonder whether Rebecca will accept her next conference speaker’s invitation?

  • Grifter

    We strayed far from Rebecca’s original point long ago. Even before when you said men don’t have the right to speak if you don’t approve. I think it was about when EG was being equated to a rapist.

    If you aren’t willing to see how the things YOU say might be offensive, then why should you expect anyone else to?

    As regards to her original point, it was a good one. A good one, and I don’t think a single person has disagreed with it. But I don’t see anything wrong with questioning her story and/or her reasoning, and apparently you do.

  • crowepps

    In my opinion it is rude to ask strangers for sex without any preliminary conversation. In my opinion it is rude to take it for granted that strangers are obligated to interact with you. In my opinion people at conferences should be polite.

    Golly, what offensive statements. I should be ashamed of myself. Obviously I am oppressing men and stripping them of their constitutional right to be creepy.

    I accept her report as stated because there is zero evidence that she was inaccurate or had an agenda. She did not name the other person to publicly shame them. Nothing about it sounds exaggerated or unlikely. Her report that she was creeped out sounds likely. Her momentary concern about the possibility of rape sounds likely.

    It’s a little hard for me to grasp just why you are so insistent your version, with the shy but awkward geek merely hopeful of some company and the paranoid liar, is more likely to be accurate. Are you rooted so firmly in men define the world that you cannot grasp the female experience is different? Is the perception of half the population invalid?

  • Grifter

    “In my opinion it is rude to ask strangers for sex without any preliminary conversation. In my opinion it is rude to take it for granted that strangers are obligated to interact with you. In my opinion people at conferences should be polite.” I agree with all that. But that’s not what you said before. If you’d like to back off from your previous statement, then that’s great! We agree! Of course, we still don’t agree on whether he was definitely asking for sex, but I’ll take my agreements where I can. You said they didn’t have the right to be what you’ve now defined as rude. I stated that they do, in fact, have that right, just as Westboro Baptist has the right to be douchebags.

    “Golly, what offensive statements. I should be ashamed of myself. Obviously I am oppressing men and stripping them of their constitutional right to be creepy.” Are you? Because, again, you said you thought men didn’t have the right to speak in public unless women wanted them to. That seems to be oppressive and sexist.

    “I accept her report as stated because there is zero evidence that she was inaccurate or had an agenda.” HA! She clearly had an agenda: to bring up that she’s bothered by men’s actions at these events.

    “She did not name the other person to publicly shame them. Nothing about it sounds exaggerated or unlikely. Her report that she was creeped out sounds likely. Her momentary concern about the possibility of rape sounds likely.” — she never, to my knowledge, said she was concerned about the possibility of rape. As i understand it, OTHERS have brought it up. And while there is nothing about it that is necessarily unlikely, neither is the interpretation of the same events that I gave.

    “It’s a little hard for me to grasp just why you are so insistent your version, with the shy but awkward geek merely hopeful of some company and the paranoid liar,” That is an awful misinterpretation of my words. I argued that my possibility was perfectly consistent with the facts on record. I still maintain it is. I never called her a liar. Not once. Might she be lying, though? Yup! Do you refuse to accept it as a possibility? The whole event may have been made up of whole cloth just to try to make a point. That’s not unheard of, either, is it? I never even made that argument, just the one that said she may have been overly sensitive.

    ” is more likely to be accurate.” — never said it was “more likely”. Only a possibility. Your refusal to even accept it as such shows your bias.

    “Are you rooted so firmly in men define the world that you cannot grasp the female experience is different?” Wow. Just wow. Thanks for demonstrating your sexism so clearly.

    ” Is the perception of half the population invalid?” Not necessarily. But it’s not perfect, either, which seems to be your position. There are multiple perspectives to any situation with people. Which is all I’ve said all along.

    RW showed herself to have an agenda, and to be a bully. That is why I have no problem believing that she may have ASSUMED this guy MUST be hitting on her because he dared to talk to her, despite him saying “don’t take this the wrong way”. I’m not saying that’s the case, just that I am not prepared to take her version of things necessarily at face value.

    I have said that, if the worst case scenario (which seems to be what you are saying) is true, then he’s both a douche and part of the larger problem, and that I would like to address that problem.

    But YOU are the one who said that men don’t have a right to be impolite. You are the one who implied women have the right to not be offended. That men need permission to speak in public. This is beyond “hey, lets be polite” and into the realm of “how dare you speak! You’ll speak when I tell you you may!” Neither I, nor do I think society at large including many women, agree with those ideas. If you’d like to retract them, then great! As I said at the top, we would then agree. Politeness is good.

    I have also said that it is possible she misread the situation, and that it’s possible she was being overly sensitive. A “best case scenario” if you will. You refuse to accept that as even a possibility. That is a bias on your part. I guess if I wanted to mimic your dialogue I would ask “Why can’t you possibly see that this guy might not have been an evil rapist?” Instead, I’ll just ask why you think it’s unfair to question someone’s version of a story, and offer an alternative explanation as a possibility? Why does that make me sexist?

  • crowepps

    You are the one who implied women have the right to not be offended. That men need permission to speak in public. This is beyond “hey, lets be polite” and into the realm of “how dare you speak! You’ll speak when I tell you you may!”

    Oh, for cripe’s sake. My original comment:
    “No, men do not have a right to proposition women out of the blue whenever they like.”

    Your response: “free speech”

    My next post: “Fine, fine, fine — I’ll agree that “free speech” entitles men to be offensive and proposition women out of the blue”…

    And you say MY posts are dishonest? Golly!

  • Grifter

    You are correct, and I apologize. In my defense, you then said:

    “So a man making a proposition out of the blue to a strange woman has the right to say whatever he pleases because her annoyance, even fear, at being approached by him doesn’t outweigh his right of free speech, do I have that right?

    But as soon as anyone ELSE is being inconvenienced or annoyed, all of a sudden free speech has limits?

    How come sexual propositions are fully protected speech to which no one is allowed to object but other types of speech have limits? So far as I’m aware there isn’t any Constitutional Right to Boink.”

    and:

    “men have an absolute free speech right to ask for sex if they use transparent euphemisms’ and ‘women have an OBLIGATION to allow men to approach them AT ANY TIME AND PLACE’. ”

    Oh, and you also said:

    “And I won’t take it back, because NOBODY has a RIGHT to talk to anybody.”

    So, you’ll forgive me for thinking that you didn’t think that people had the right to talk.

    I don’t know how I could have gotten that from comments like: “NO RIGHT TO TALK TO HIM WITHOUT ASKING HIS PERMISSION.”

    And, again, you made a point in that same last post: “Because men have the RIGHT to talk to women when the women don’t want them to?” The only way he could know for a certainty whether she would be willing to talk was by talking to her. He did, she responded negatively, he stopped. You find fault with him anyway, and I woudl say that anything else is interpretation of signals, etiquette, setting, etc. My point was that if it was an honest mistake, that EG should not be demonized for it. That making a mistake about etiquette is not a moral failing. That is my point that I’ve said, multiple times.

  • crowepps

    You know, if you could find ANYWHERE in any of my posts where I “demonized” poor pathetic clueless Elevator Guy and his icky 4:00 AM ‘wanna come to my bedroom and have some coffee’ I might say you had a point. If I had ever said being rude was a moral failing you might have a point.

    But I don’t think you can find such a post.

    I would also point out your position has to assume that every single time a man speaks to a woman the first words out of his mouth are ALWAYS ‘nice tits, wanna boink?’ since THAT was clearly what I was objecting to.

    Your insistence that the central person of concern in this situation, who has to be given all the consideration and understanding, is Elevator Guy is bizarre. Rebecca is not his mommy or his special ed teacher or his psychiatric social worker. She doesn’t have to fix things for him or give him special accomodations. If she finds his behavior creepy she has a Free Speech Right to say so which you would apparently deny her based on the fact that you, who weren’t there at all, understand what was REALLY happening much better than she, who was actually present.

    Because you’re male, so you’re ENTITLED to judge whether she is accurately experiencing her own life and having the appropriate feelings about it.

  • Brian Macker

    “Amanda Marcotte, for example, paints Hemant as a sexist paternalist trying to silence the debate… just because he told people to calm down about it.”

    Marcotte is a foaming at the mouth nut and a feminist fundamentalist. It’s creepy really. Not exactly compatible with groups that tend to be rationalist. If she happens to be an atheist then so what there are plenty of other irrational atheists I don’t care to be around, like Marxists.

  • Grifter

    crowepps, stop with the sexist rhetoric. I never judged her feelings. I questioned whether it was possible that she misinterpreted the situation. You seem to think that doing that makes me sexist.

    I never said YOU were the one demonizing him, although when I said we shouldn’t demonize him, you leapt in with reasons how he was wrong and a refusal to accept even the possibility of innocent mistake, and how he doesn’t have the right to talk to her etc. That seems pretty biased.

    “Your insistence that the central person of concern in this situation, who has to be given all the consideration and understanding, is Elevator Guy is bizarre. ”
    I never even came at all close to saying that. At ALL. Not even close, not in any way shape or form. I did say that it is unfair to completely ignore the possibility that he wasn’t just propositioning her out of the blue. Something you still refuse to accept as even a possibility. The fact that you still seem unwilling to accept that as EVEN AS A POSSIBILITY makes you sexist. The fact that even mentioning considering EG AT ALL makes you so angry, makes you misrepresent that ANY thought of EGs possible perspective is to somehow ignore RWs perspective seems unfair and bigoted to me.

    I have said all along that I just wanted us all to keep in mind that there’s multiple ways this situation may have happened, and that it’s unfair of us to assume the worst possible scenario. You have yet to even acknowledge that any scenario/explanation other than yours is even possible, instead finding fault with me for things i haven’t said (such as when you claimed I said that a more innocent interpretation is more likely). That is unfair. Just as RW is entitled to her opinion, and to be creeped out, I am entitled to question whether there’s a possibility that she misread the situation. That is what being skeptical is all about. Never said it was true, that that’s what happened, but just that it was a possibility. I believe in giving the benefit of the doubt to the individual even if, as I already said, in aggregate we know that there’s no way that all 1000 of the guys that talked to her in a way that she thought was hitting on her were “innocent”. You seem to not to.

    But nice job ignoring the point we were discussing without addressing it and moving on to more sexist rhetoric about how dare I judge. That seems to be shifting sands again.

  • crowepps

    I believe in giving the benefit of the doubt to the individual

    Because a skeptical response includes giving the benefit of doubt — to the man

    I am entitled to question whether there’s a possibility that she misread the situation.

    Because a skeptical response includes doubting the perceptions — of the woman

    moving on to more sexist rhetoric about how dare I judge

    If the shoe fits –

  • Grifter

    crowepps, you are once again being unfair. I give the benefit of the doubt to the ACCUSED. He has been ACCUSED of certain things, and I have said that the accusation is not necessarily valid. So yes, in this instance that means benefit of the doubt to the man, and a question of the story of the woman. How is that wrong? If the sexes were reversed, I would be saying the same thing, and then the skeptical response would include giving the benefit of doubt — to the woman, and doubting the perceptions — of the man.

    Heck, if this was two women, or two men, I would once again be saying that there is a chance the accuser is completely misreading the accused. Please, tell me what makes you think I WOULDN’T do that? Or are you just assuming because I have a Y chromosome I must therefore be sexist?

  • crowepps

    Precisely what did Rebecca accuse him of? Creeping her out? Isn’t she the best judge of her own reaction? Sexualizing her? Isn’t she the best judge of the subtext underlying an interaction where she was present and you were not?

    “Um, just a word to wise here, guys, uh, don’t do that. You know, I don’t really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4:00 am, in a hotel elevator, with you, just you, and–don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner…”

    I realize that in your version the man is an eunuch, and was inviting her to his bedroom at 4:00 AM with absolutely no other thought in his mind but that her being seriously tired could be ‘cured’ by coffee so she could give him private tutoring in how to not hit on women and make them uncomfortable, but frankly, I don’t personally buy it.

    In particular I don’t buy that in order to make her extremely mild suggestion of “don’t do that”, Rebecca had an obligation to first report every single nuance of the incident in such detail that ‘guys’ can decide whether they think her feelings are JUSTIFIED and give her their PERMISSION to be uncomfortable and use their incredible psychic powers to read the mind of the guy involved to see if it is REASONABLE for her to feel sexualized, since, you know, woman, probably misinterpreted, paranoid, victim mentality, guy didn’t actually grab her or kiss her or rape her, did he?

    And, hey, what more could any woman reasonably ask? Any time a woman has an interaction with a man and he doesn’t actually physically attack her, he’s fulfilled his MAXIMUM OBLIGATION and she’s gotten everything any woman has a right to expect and should just shut up and stop whining.

  • Brian Macker

    “Precisely what did Rebecca accuse him of? Creeping her out? Isn’t she the best judge of her own reaction?”

    You creep me out. So does she.

    “Sexualizing her?”

    No she said objectifying and she couldn’t support her case.

  • Grifter

    crowepps: Really?

    Never said he was a eunuch. Never said she couldn’t say she was creeped out. Never said there isn’t an overall problem. Just said “hey, there’s a chance she misinterpreted the situation, and considering her behavior later, I think it may be a viable possibility.” Regardless of whether he was hitting on her or not, I think it’s unfair to draw parallels to rapists. You think it is. That’s fine. We can disagree without me being sexist, you do understand that, right?

    “In particular I don’t buy that in order to make her extremely mild suggestion of “don’t do that”, Rebecca had an obligation to first report every single nuance of the incident in such detail that ‘guys’ can decide whether they think her feelings are JUSTIFIED and give her their PERMISSION to be uncomfortable and use their incredible psychic powers to read the mind of the guy involved to see if it is REASONABLE for her to feel sexualized, since, you know, woman, probably misinterpreted, paranoid, victim mentality, guy didn’t actually grab her or kiss her or rape her, did he?” You’re right. In fact, from now on, every time you speak to someone, you’ve threatened them with rape. AND HOW DARE ANYONE DISAGREE. Obviously, that’s not fair. I think it’s perfecftly reasonable to say she may have misinterpreted the situation. I think it is also perfectly fair to say that there might be a reason she did. But if she was hit on 1000000 times tonight, and someone says “hello” to her and she flips out on them, that is still an overreaction. Obviously that’s not what happened here, but to say that it is unfair to ever question someone’s reaction is ludicrous.

    Oh, also, NEVER ONCE EVER EVER EVER said she needs ANYONE’s permission to have her feelings. You are being incredibly disingenuous. I could respond equally angrily to you, but I am TRYING to have an effective dialogue with you.

  • crowepps

    I wish you would stop insisting that I am “angry”. I am not angry. I haven’t been angry at any time during this exchange of posts. I’ve told you that before. In fact, at this point I am wryly amused. Project much?

    I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say she may have misinterpreted the situation.

    I think it’s more reasonable to say YOU may have misinterpreted the situation. After all, you weren’t even there.

    Obviously that’s not what happened here

    Then why drag it in?

    to say that it is unfair to ever question someone’s reaction is ludicrous

    Really? I was taught that was ad hominem and rude, but if you say it’s okay, I’d question your rather over the top reactions and what your agenda is for dragging in issues that weren’t originally part of the scenario, like “if men are prevented from being creepy no one will never have sex again” and “men will have to ask women for permission to speak”. I think those reactions indicate some real issues you might profitably work on — sounds like a clear case of “victim’s mentality” to me.

  • Grifter

    “I wish you would stop insisting that I am “angry”. I am not angry. I haven’t been angry at any time during this exchange of posts. I’ve told you that before. In fact, at this point I am wryly amused. Project much?” — No, I’m just trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. If it is anger making you misinterpret me, I’m trying to point it out in hopes you notice. Otherwise, when you make points saying I said things I never said, frequently, then you’re just being intellectually lazy, or intellectually dishonest to try to prove your point. Granted, no one is perfect in a discussion, but the frequency with which you misrepresent and exagerrate the opinion of your opponent led me to think “anger”. If you are just lazy or dishonest, then I apologize. I know I’ve been lazy before and not bothered to look up what someone actually said, however, 1, when that is pointed out I generally apologize, and 2, you do it a LOT. So please then let me say, if you aren’t angry, I would request you please try to be more fair in your responses, and don’t exagerrate statements outside of what was actually said, as it forces the person to defend something they never said and muddies the waters of the discussion.

    “I think it’s more reasonable to say YOU may have misinterpreted the situation. After all, you weren’t even there.”

    You again act as though I’m saying that the interpretation I have suggested is CORRECT, when all along all I’ve said is that it should be acknowledged as a possibility. Therefore, this argument is stupid, because you’re right: I never denied that she may be 100% correct in her interpretation. She may also be wrong in her chosen interpretation of the other person’s intentions. The fact you STILL refuse to acknowledge that as even a possibility is illogical. We can debate how LIKELY it is, but you’ve yet to even say it was POSSIBLE. Even Russel’s Teapot is POSSIBLE.

    “Then why drag it in?” — because you have suggested that it is NEVER okay to question someone’s reaction to a situation. I was trying to show an example that I figured you’d agree with, thus demonstrating an error in what I feel to be your hard-line stance against EVER questioning reaction. If it’s okay in SOME circumstances, then we can discuss why it might be appropriate or not in THIS one. THAT is why I “dragged it in”. Should I not ever use examples? And to return to it as a point, do you disagree with that as an example of an “over-reaction”?

    “to say that it is unfair to ever question someone’s reaction is ludicrous

    Really? I was taught that was ad hominem and rude,”

    — Then you were taught an incorrect definition of ad hominem, because it is not. I’m not saying “she’s a jerk, therefore her points are invalid”, which is an ad hominem attack, I’m saying “there is a chance she has misinterpreted a situation, and what makes me think it is slightly more likely is her behavior after the fact”. When behavior and interpretation ARE THE TOPIC OF DISCUSSION, then it is PERFECTLY APPROPRIATE to bring behavior and thought process into the discussion. For example (and, again, this is just an example of an occasion when questioning someone’s perspective is OBVIOUSLY NOT ad hominem, vs. a time it is), if a true pathological liar makes a logical point, then trying to dismiss it is an “ad hominem”. If a true pathological liar makes a logical point BASED ON A STORY THEY TELL, then it is perfectly appropriate to say “Well, if it happened that way you’re right, but I question the verity of your story since I know you to have a psychological condition that causes you to lie about things”. Do you see how that might be? Keep in mind, lest you say that I am, I am NOT calling RW a liar, pathological or otherwise.

    ” but if you say it’s okay, I’d question your rather over the top reactions and what your agenda is for dragging in issues that weren’t originally part of the scenario, like “if men are prevented from being creepy no one will never have sex again”” — I NEVER SAID THAT. I don’t think ANYONE EVER SAID THAT. Again, you are stating arguments that were never made. What I said was that, since the burden of “making the first move” is societally generally on men, that they are therefore more likely to make a mistake, and that if it was a mistake, rather than some terrible “women are only for sex” thought process, then it is not a moral failing, but rather a simple miscalculation. I was making a case for the plausibility/possibility of this NOT being objectification, even if it WAS a pass he was making.

    ” and “men will have to ask women for permission to speak”.” YOU EXPLICITLY SAID THAT WAS ALREADY THE CASE. And I already pointed out that you said it. Although you said it regarding yourself and as a general rule, but then, that would therefore apply to men, yes? So please, don’t accuse me of bringing in things that weren’t said when I JUST QUOTED YOU SAYING THEM. It is statements like this that make me think you are “angry”, becuase I find it hard to believe it’s an intellectually honest mistake that you forgot you said it, when I just mentioned it a few points ago, with a quote from your post. How SHOULD I interpret that, if not as anger? Because I assume you won’t admit to being dishonest, so please tell me what it WAS then?

    “I think those reactions indicate some real issues you might profitably work on — sounds like a clear case of “victim’s mentality” to me.”

    Your ‘points’ to establish this “victim’s mentality” include things I never said, and the claim you did not say what you did, in fact say. So, NO, I would NOT agree with “sounds like a clear case of ‘victim’s mentality’.” Had you used things I actually said, and not denied things that you so obviously said, then you might have a point. I think, however, you were being sarcastic? Maybe not. Regardless, saying I have a victim’s mentality would not be ad hominem. Trying to dismiss a point solely on the basis of the “victim’s mentality”, without addressing the point at all, WOULD be.

  • crowepps

    Oh, for cripe’s sake, so NOW your argument is nobody can accept any report or opinion or feeling of anybody else as a basis for action or for forming an opinion because those other people MIGHT have misinterpreted, because those other people can’t READ MINDS, because it’s always possible there MIGHT BE ANOTHER EXPLANATION, and there’s no way to be 100% SURE?

    So obviously the thing to do when someone brings up a problem is remind them they probably don’t know what they’re talking about, their perception is probably skewed, their complaint is probably bogus, they should give the other person the benefit of the doubt?

    And scold anyone who believes them that as an ‘accuser’ the person should be suspect, the supporter shouldn’t believe them, the supporter should admit the other person involved in the situation is more likely to be credible BECAUSE THEY’RE ACCUSED even when there is no evidence whatsoever to support that position?

    Because the skeptical position is ‘nothing can be known for sure’ and ‘all people making requests for consideration, as potential oppressors of their fellows, have a suspect agenda’.

    So any woman reporting harassment, as an accuser, has probably misinterpreted what has happened, failed to give the other person the benefit of the doubt, and shouldn’t be believed.

    And any man reporting being defrauded, as an accuser, has probably misinterpreted what has happened, failed to give the other person the benefit of the doubt, and shouldn’t be believed.

    And any blog commenter who says the other people posting are being dishonest and unfair in responding to him, as an accuser, is probably misinterpreting things and wrong about the motivation and actions of the other posters and unlikely to be right.

    And since nobody can be 100% sure of any facts, or 100% sure of what words mean, or 100% sure of the credibility of anyone else, then discussing anything is pointless.

  • Grifter

    Once again, you are twisting the argument. “So any woman reporting harassment, as an accuser, has probably misinterpreted what has happened, failed to give the other person the benefit of the doubt, and shouldn’t be believed.” I never said that. Never said “probably”. But for you to say “it’s impossible that anyone could possibly misinterpret a situation” is ridiculous, which is what you seem to be saying.

  • Grifter

    Also: a single encounter with a single comment is NOT HARASSMENT. There IS an overarching problem, which has never been denied, but again, don’t twist and exagerrate.

  • crowepps

    But for you to say “it’s impossible that anyone could possibly misinterpret a situation” is ridiculous, which is what you seem to be saying.

    Not at all, when I have right in front of me not only your misinterpretation of the situation being discussed but also your repeated gross misinterpretations of practically every statement I’ve made since our discussion began.

  • Grifter

    I have repeatedly asked you to acknowledge the possibility that the situation may have been misread. Your response has been to repeatedly claim that I am saying that the situation was DEFINITELY misread (when again, I never ever ever once said that it was a certainty, just that there was a possibility), and that it’s unfair to ever question someone’s interpretation.

    When I call you out on that being a ridiculous proposition, you respond by trying to say that I’m saying that we can never say anyone ever didn’t misunderstand.

    Obviously I never said those things. And you have once again not acknowledged the possibility that the situation may have been misread. Since I would argue that OBVIOUSLY IT IS POSSIBLE, regardless of HOW LIKELY YOU THINK IT IS, then your refusal to acknowledge it seems as though you refuse to accept the possibility. If that is the case, then I would maintain that you are prejudiced beyond logic, and that you cannot possibly be convinced by any argument. If you acknowledge it is AT ALL possible that there is a different interpretation of the same situation than what RW stated (again, she gave a list of events and interpreted it as ‘he made a sexual pass and objectified me’, I haven’t even once questioned her versions of the event, only ever the interpretation she gave), it is fine if you maintain that it is an UNLIKELY proposition to you. I have repeatedly acknowledged that, in aggregate, there is almost certainly a problem of those things. The problem I have is that you have yet to even acknowledge that there is any possibility that she overreacted/misinterpreted THIS SPECIFIC INSTANCE, forcing me to try to defend the concept of situations ever being misread, while you then attempt to paint my argument as being that situations are ALWAYS misread. It is clearly not that. But I once again state that your refusal to acknowledge that there is any possibility that she misread this man’s intentions points to you refusing to concede an obviously valid point (as I previously said, it’s technically even possible that she made the whole damn thing up, though of course I’m not arguing that that is a likely proposition), which in my opinion points to you having a cognitive bias that does not allow you to debate this subject reasonably.

    So I will call upon you to acknowledge, without being sarcastic, that there is a possibility it was misread. And that, to some people on here, the alternative explanations for the man’s behavior (that he was not objectifying her, that he was possibly not even making a pass) seem more likely than her explanation (he was making a pass/objectifying her), and that while she is entitled to her opinion and her feelings, that if a person disagrees with her assessment of the events as she presented them, that the person also is likely to feel that her response is an overreaction.

  • crowepps

    ANYTHING AT ALL IS POSSIBLE.

    It’s ALSO possible that the men reading about this situation are so busy ‘understanding’ the poor fellow involved and his desperation for a pat on the head from a woman he admired that they are igoring the fact he might actually have planned to rape her and let her go instead because part of his ‘kink’ required the woman to agree to go to his room willingly.

    There’s every bit as much evidence for THAT scenario as there is for yours.

  • Grifter

    Are you really stating that you feel those two scenarios are equally likely? To be clear, the first being that when he said “don’t take this the wrong way, but would you like to get coffee” he meant “would you like to get coffee”, and the second being that he was a rapist?

  • crowepps

    I didn’t say anything about “equally likely”, I said “every bit as much EVIDENCE” for either scenario.

    After all, it’s easy to disguise roofies with the taste of coffee.

    Was he a rapist? Although the majority of men are not, in his particular case, we have zero facts that would allow us to come to a conclusion one way or the other.

    Your position seems to be that without CONCLUSIVE evidence it is irrational to think he MIGHT be. My position is that without CONCLUSIVE evidence he is NOT, it would be irrational to lower ones defenses.

  • Grifter

    And I totally said she should lower her defenses… wait, no, never said that. Never faulted her for caution at all. Nor has that ever been your position. This discussion has not been about whether she was warranted to be cautious. It was about whether he can be morally faulted for speaking to her in the elevator, with the facts as given by RW, and whether she was justified in her interpretation of his intentions.

    And I still do not agree that we “have as much evidence” for both scenarios.

    As I have said before, I believe it is likely that his saying “Don’t take this the wrong way” was intending to reference the fact that he was aware asking her to coffee could be interpreted as an innuendo for sex, but that he actually meant the words he said as he said them. Despite his saying “Don’t take this the wrong way,” she chose to interpret it as the innuendo about sex. I would say that that is unfair with the facts as she gave them. Your “he could just as easily have been planning to rape her” scenario has no logical argument that you’ve given to back it up, nor has she ever stated to my knowledge that that was her concern, and so therefore I would NOT agree that they were equal in “evidence”. I wouldn’t blame her for being cautious, just as we ALL are around strangers. And of course, it is possible. But I can give reasons as to why I think it is implausible, and you have yet to explain why my scenario is implausible with the facts as given.

  • crowepps

    I have never, at any time, said anything whatsoever about “morally faulting” EM. Instead I have said an approach in an elevator at 4:00 AM is RUDE which is an entirely different concept and has ZERO to do with morals. One may make the exact same moral OR immoral request in a rude way or a polite way. Guess which produces the best chance of getting a positive answer?

    In addition, I didn’t say your scenario was “implausible”. I said it was unlikely, I said that absent the man’s actual thought processes which we do not know there was no evidence supporting it, and I said other scenarios were MORE plausible.

    If that total innocence and lack of carnal intentions are what YOU are thinking when you ask strange women in elevators to come up to your bedroom at conferences, that’s speaks to YOUR moral character. It tells us nothing about his whatsoever because you cannot project your thought processes and motives onto him anymore than I can assert I am SURE that I know what Rebecca was thinking.

    I do have a better chance than you to be right, in that so far as what Rebecca was thinking, I have HER FIRST HAND REPORT OF WHAT SHE WAS THINKING while you have only guesses based on substituting yourself into the scenario.

  • Grifter

    Yup, you know what she was thinking. Great! And if the discussion were “was she bothered”, the discussion would have ended a looong time ago, because if she says she was bothered, she was bothered.

    That is NOT the point of the discussion, however. The discussion is, was she warranted in thinking he meant sex, and was she warranted in claiming he objectified her. With the conclusion that if she was not warranted in these things, the discussion is also is it okay to say she therefore overreacted.

    I would argue that his saying “don’t take this the wrong way” would be a pretty clear indication he did not intend sex.

    Do you maintain that he said that, but did mean sex? That is what RW believed, and I would argue that that is unfair to EG. Please explain why you think that he did not mean that.

    Just to confirm: Your point now is just that he was rude?

    Not that he had “no right” to speak to her without permission?

    Not that he was a potential rapist?

    Not that he was in the wrong for speaking to her?

    Just that making a single comment to her in an elevator they were both traveling in, in response to her comment of being “tired”, was rude. That is your entire argument at this point? I just want to confirm, lest I misinterpret your argument. Because, frankly, that has not seemed to be your argument up to this point. So if that IS your argument, then our only contention is: is it rude to speak to a stranger without saying “excuse me” first?

    Or are you holding onto the premise that “In my opinion it is rude to ask strangers for sex without any preliminary conversation.” Which as a sentiment I would agree with, however, in using it here it seems you are saying that is what EG did, which means you are presupposing that by coffee he meant “instant sex” and which I still maintain is not at all supported by the events as described.

    All along when I have said “it is wrong to cast a moral blame on what might have been an innocent offer” you have argued against that premise. That is why I believed that was part of your point. You now say it is not. That is fine, but then I would ask that you state your point, clearly.

    Mine is as follows: RW stated that a man propositioned her, when he specifically said “don’t take this the wrong way”, per her own story. That seems pretty egotistical of her, to presume that he must have been asking for sex. And that he wouldn’t have said the same thing if he had found himself, say, with Richard Dawkins, or Christopher Hitchens. However, I can understand that, even if it seems to me like she may have been jumping to conclusions in this case, there are enough women complaining about enough men that I believe, in aggregate, it is reasonable to conclude there is a serious problem within the atheist community that needs to be dealt with, and that the problem is not likely a constant stream of misinterpretation (although it’s possible), but rather, a problem of many men at these conferences frequently behaving inappropriately, even to the point where I understand, but do not condone, oversensitivity (as may be the case here).

    I do not believe that it is a moral failing to be socially awkward.

    If there is a chance that an INDIVIDUAL instance was innocent, I will say that, while still recognizing an overall problem.

    I do not assume the worst without a very good reason, and I question those who do. (Assuming the worst is of course different from planning for the worst, so please don’t think I’m saying that caution is a bad thing, only that throwing claims out that assume a worst case scenario should justify that assumption).

    I also have issue with RW’s response to someone who criticized her opinion as to the man’s motives. She was there to give a talk on one subject, and used the opportunity to veer off that subject right at the beginning and villify her opponent. This makes me think it is even more likely that she misinterpreted the situation, since I do not trust the opinion of bullies when they try to explain to me how right they are and what other people’s motivations are.

    I also have issue with the many people who try to equate EG with rapists for what was AT WORST a social faux pas and possibly rude offer.

    I do not believe that he “objectified” her, in that he did not ignore what she said, even if we assume the absolute worst case scenario and he WAS asking just for instant sex (which I, again, do not believe to be the most plausible explanation, due to the words she reported he used as preface), he addressed what she said regarding her fatigue, and he dropped it after she declined his offer. That does not at all seem “objectifying” to me, and no one has shown how it is yet. If the reported dialogue had been, say:

    “Would you like to come to my room for some hot liquid sprayed in your mouth?”

    “No, thanks”

    “Fine then you c*nt then what good are you?”,

    Then that would be a case of clear objectification.

    Instead, we have a comment prefaced with “don’t take this the wrong way”, that if taken at face value would not mean sex, and only does if you assume it does and choose to interepret it as euphemism, which means you have to accept her premises regarding his motivation, which she bases on, as far as I know, nothing.

    So, to sum up: I don’t believe it’s inherently rude to talk to a stranger once. I believe that treating women like objects is wrong, however, I believe that RW’s story doesn’t lead me to believe that was intended by EG. I have issues with the many of the comments made, particularly when they seem to equate EG to rapists. I do not believe that questioning an interpretation of events that I do not agree with makes me a sexist.

    Those are my points, as complete as I can make them. Please, state yours.

    On a final note, you said: “and I said other scenarios were MORE plausible”. What other scenarios? The two you stated to my recollection were that he meant instant sex, or that he meant instant sex and was a rapist. I just want to confirm: do you really think that it was more likely that he was a rapist, than that she assumed he meant sex when he did not?

  • crowepps

    Oh, geez, wall of text — sorry, I think our conversation has passed the point where that is productive.

    You are absolutely obsessed with proving that it is totally unreasonable of women to be nervous about the possibility of being raped and defensive about being cornered by any INDIVIDUAL man because it HURTS THE MEN’S FEELINGS!

    The people you need to take your complaints to are the rapists. They’re the ones putting the big kink in male/female relationships that so distresses you.

  • Grifter

    “You are absolutely obsessed with proving that it is totally unreasonable of women to be nervous about the possibility of being raped and defensive about being cornered by any INDIVIDUAL man because it HURTS THE MEN’S FEELINGS!

    You once again misrepresent me completely. I have said literally every single time you’ve accused me of this that I have no problem with a woman being nervous, and have never argued that a woman doesn’t have a right to be nervous. I have never once brought up “hurt feelings”. I can no longer do anything but call you a liar.

    “The people you need to take your complaints to are the rapists. They’re the ones putting the big kink in male/female relationships that so distresses you.” — That is certainly true. Rapists are monsters, and I would rather there was no such thing and no such people.

    Sexist hypocrites such as yourself cause their own share of problems, as well, when they distort the debate and demonize their opposition. Misandry and misogyny are equally bad, and both prevent our society from reaching equality.

  • crowepps

    You once again misrepresent me completely. I have said literally every single time you’ve accused me of this that I have no problem with a woman being nervous, and have never argued that a woman doesn’t have a right to be nervous.

    She just doesn’t have a right to expect men to leave her alone when she’s in a nervous making situation, right? Or REACT as though she’s nervous because without 100% proof of ill intent that’s an ‘over-reaction’. Or tell anyone later that she had been nervous because that’s ‘the same as an accusation the man is a rapist.’

    So although you will graciously permit women to be nervous (while deploring their paranoia), that emotional reaction isn’t actually VALID and is entirely THEIR problem and men should be able to interact with women without having to ever acknowledge the fact that some BEHAVIORS are predatory. Because men have a RIGHT to behave like predators when they know it scares women so long they don’t actually attack them.

    Because expecting men to change their behavior is an outrageous imposition on their freedom to say whatever they want to whomever they wish wherever and whenever they desire and their right to SPEAK cannot be criticized. And so women should just shut up about being nervous. Because women don’t have the right to speak.

  • Grifter

    Again, you exagerrate. There is no way to logically extrapolate my argument to be that women shouldn’t speak, nor did I ever say that. In fact, I defended her original comments multiple times, even as I said that she interpreted it in a way that was unfair. Disgareeing with someone is not the same as saying they aren’t allowed to speak. So stop trying to paint me in unfair terms.

  • crowepps

    The evidence of your intolerance for Rebecca’s speech is right here, in this and the other threads on this issue, where you insist that her statements (paraphrased) of ‘I felt objectified and was creeped out” and ‘I think the bloggers dismissal of my statement was based in our sexist culture’ are both SLANDER and that she is an ACCUSER and probably make up the whole thing because of her secret agenda.

    In addition, it’s obvious your favorite responses to other people’s statements are LIAR! LIAR! and PROVE IT!

    If you are puzzled why the discussions you’re involved in aren’t productive of an exchange of views, it’s because you consider any statement that is not 100% agreement with you as a personal attack and because you respond to those statements at a kindergarten level.

  • Grifter

    “The evidence of your intolerance for Rebecca’s speech is right here, in this and the other threads on this issue, where you insist that her statements (paraphrased) of ‘I felt objectified and was creeped out” and ‘I think the bloggers dismissal of my statement was based in our sexist culture’ are both SLANDER” —actually, I said that calling RWs comments about EG slander were, in fact, harsh.

    I admit that I said calling her actions: (equating Stef’s actions to those who’ve threatened to rape her and calling Stef “anti-women”, NOT THE STATEMENT “I think the bloggers dismissal of my statement was based in our sexist culture”, which was never made)slanderous seemed pretty fair. You don’t think it’s slanderous to say “You disagree with me, therefore you must be anti-women?” That’s right up there with Godwin’s Lawing someone.

    “and that she is an ACCUSER” — She said he made a pass at her. That is an accusation. How you could interpret it as anything else, I don’t know. I didn’t say she accused him of being a murderer, but when you state someone has done something negative, that is by definition an accusation. I maintain that the words he used, as reported by her, did NOT mean a “let’s have sex”, and so therefore her accusation is unfair.

    “and probably make up the whole thing because of her secret agenda.” I never even once said that at all. I said, in a discussion of things that are possible, that it is POSSIBLE she made it up. I even specifically said I wasn’t making that point, because I conceded that, while not entirely unheard of, it was not very likely. It is an untrue statement to say I said or even implied that she “probably made up the whole thing”. Which leads us to:

    “In addition, it’s obvious your favorite responses to other people’s statements are LIAR! LIAR! and PROVE IT!” –No, my favorite responses to YOU SAYING I SAID THINGS I NEVER SAID is “I never said that.” This is not a difference of opinion; the previous comments are all listed on here. When you said you had already conceded a point, I agreed you had conceded it, then pointed out the times later when you posted statements in direct opposition to that point. (When you said (paraphrased) “yeah, yeah, they have that right”, then later said the opposite: “no right to talk without permission”). When I point out that I never said things you claim I said, you return with nothing to support your claim that I said these things.

    “If you are puzzled why the discussions you’re involved in aren’t productive of an exchange of views, it’s because you consider any statement that is not 100% agreement with you as a personal attack and because you respond to those statements at a kindergarten level.” — That is a personal attack. I respond to your statements point by point. You respond by making claims that I said things I never said. I welcome someone who disagrees with me if they can defend their points. But I will respond to things I don’t agree with, and I fail to see why I shouldn’t.

    For you to claim that the position “I disagree with your interpretation of that man’s intentions” leads to the position “Women aren’t allowed to speak”, which is what you just did in the post above this last of yours, is patently ridiculous. For you then to claim that I am immature, for daring to point out that you are lying about me (and I said it just because I could no longer, barring you giving a good reason, give you the benefit of the doubt. At a certain point, if you keep saying I said things I never said, I’m going to call you a liar).

    Your behavior is why we rarely can have a civil discourse on subjects like these. As soon as someone opens their mouth to state that, perhaps, this is not an example of some great and terrible thing, even if they acknowledge that there is a problem, they are still demonized, their arguments lied about, their perspective belittled. I have attempted to respond to you reasonably, but you continue to respond unreasonably.

  • crowepps

    Thought of you when I read these:
    Woman arrested for reporting rape
    http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/07/07/37942.htm
    Schoolgirl expelled for reporting rape
    http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/07/07/37943.htm

    Those females — all probably liars
    Those rapists — all probably innocent

  • Grifter

    What’s sad is that I legitimately can’t tell whether you’re a troll or a one of the many people I’ve encountered on these types of dialogues who cannot debate the subject rationally.

    Either way, since you’ve made no points in rebuttal, I assume you have none to make.

  • crowepps

    Do you think that’s ‘sad’? Really?

    Well, let’s see — I am a person whose nym is — their actual real name, easy to google, and who tries really hard to not get distracted by the personal attacks and various ad hominem of which you are so fond.

    And in order to remain anonymous, you have chosen as your nym “grifter”, which means “a person who swindles by means of deception or fraud”. Ooooh, classy!

    And the crux of my argument is, because of the real world experiences of ALL women, which I detailed, and pretty wide spread misogyny around this issue in particular, giving links, it should be possible for men to understand that there are some SITUATIONS which make women nervous and refrain from cornering women in them because THE SITUATION can reasonably trigger a flight or fight reflex. And incidently women who have been creeped out aren’t likely to provide ‘conference sex’ to total strangers.

    And the crux of your argument is, so long as you are not 100% absolutely POSITIVE that ‘cup of coffee’ was FOR SURE a euphemism for sex then Rebecca Watson “misinterpretd” what was happening, “over reacted” to a totally innocent request from a stranger and never should have “accused” him of hitting on her, but if he actually had been, hey, freedom of speech, and women should be considerate of a guy’s fragile feelings because, OMG, she might EMBARRASS him.

    So apparently we have reached the truism: men are afraid women will laugh at them, and women are afraid men will kill them. And you’re saying the MAN’S worry should have priority. Because the number of women physically assaulted by men in the United States every year is ONLY 1.9 million. And there are probably LOTS more men embarrassed than that.

    And you’re worrying I can’t discuss things rationally? I think looking at the entirety of your arguments above, including the repeated suggestions women “misinterpret” their experiences and their feelings are “irrational” and they are “unfair” to men for no good reason, you’re a rape apologist.

  • crowepps

    That is where you injured us, the victims. You have made one more space blatantly unsafe to us. We don’t mean safe as in free from any kind of sexual interest. We’re not asking for that, and we don’t want it. We mean that you, a leader in our community, made free with a woman’s experience and rewrote it to suit your own ends.

    You decided you knew better than she did what had happened, and you were comfortable explaining it to everyone else. That is part of how communities are ruined and ultimately shaped to support sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape. That is how offenders operate and how they are excused. That is how the world that hurt us was built. And you have added to that.

    https://membracid.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/a-letter-to-richard-dawkins-from-victims-of-sexual-assault/

  • Grifter

    I will admit to an unfamiliarity with RD’s comments.

    But I hope you aren’t trying to claim that that complaint is valid regarding my comments, since 1, THIS ISN’T ABOUT RAPE AND YOU NEED TO STOP PRETENDING IT IS. NOR IS IT ABOUT ASSAULT. NOR IS IT ABOUT HARASSMENT. It is about a conversation between two people. And 2, I did not question the events as she presented them. I questioned only that “Don’t take this the wrong way”, a statement she included as part of her story, means “Take this to mean instant sex”. Since that’s not what those words mean to me, nor to most people, I said that I did not think it was fair to assume that’s what they meant.

  • Grifter

    I missed the comment above, where you called me a rape apologist.

    And you wondered why I called you angry earlier.

    This has never been about rape. Your constant need to call a conversation equivalent to rape is what makes you sexist. You are a hypocrite (finding fault with sexism while being incredibly sexist yourself, complaining earlier about supposed ad hominem, then proceeding to make ad hominem of your own), a liar (you have constantly tried to say I said things I never said; I’ve given examples, and even in that comment, where you claim I said “women” misinterpret, when this debate has been about one. Specific. Woman. And One. Specific. Circumstance.), and a poor debater (you have consistently not made any points in defense of your own point, instead trying to attack other people for your perception of their sexism).

    I can no longer continue arguing with you, if your arguments all boil down to “EVER QUESTIONING ANY WOMAN EQUALS MISOGYNIST, YOU RAPE APOLOGIST!!!!11!!!!” If you can ever calmly debate why you think “don’t take this the wrong way” = “instant sex”, then I’ll respond. Heck, maybe you can give me something I didn’t think of to believe that, but otherwise I’m done bothering to speak to someone I can only see as an internet troll. I will post a response to your last post, but that’s it until, as I said, you can make an ACTUAL POINT about the situation, instead of BASELESS ACCUSATIONS.

    “Do you think that’s ‘sad’? Really?

    Well, let’s see — I am a person whose nym is — their actual real name, easy to google, and who tries really hard to not get distracted by the personal attacks and various ad hominem of which you are so fond.

    And in order to remain anonymous, you have chosen as your nym “grifter”, which means “a person who swindles by means of deception or fraud”. Ooooh, classy!”

    — You do realize the patent hypocrisy in these paragraphs, right? Also, I DID google your name, which I presume to be your last name only? Which of course would not be your full name. I found a lot of users, and a limited number of names, but even if one of those names was you, there’s no registration for this site, so you could be anybody. But you know what? THAT’S IMMATERIAL. However, I fail to see why a desire for anonymity invalidates my points. Attempting to say so would be the definition of ad hominem.

    “And the crux of my argument is, because of the real world experiences of ALL women,” — I’m glad you know the real world experiences of all women! That’s not at all ridiculous of you.

    “which I detailed, and pretty wide spread misogyny around this issue in particular, giving links,” — No, you didn’t. You gave links about RAPE. NOT ABOUT CONVERSATIONS, which is what this was. Nice try though!

    “it should be possible for men to understand that there are some SITUATIONS which make women nervous and refrain from cornering women in them because THE SITUATION can reasonably trigger a flight or fight reflex.” THIS ONE DID NOT TRIGGER A FIGHT OR FLIGHT RESPONSE FROM RW. SHE NEVER CLAIMED IT, NEVER CLAIMED ANY THOUGHTS OF RAPE. THERE IS NO REASON TO EVEN BRING THIS IN.

    ” And incidently women who have been creeped out aren’t likely to provide ‘conference sex’ to total strangers.” Very true. Which is part of why I don’t think he was asking for sex, and the words as reported BY HER don’t seem at all to be a request for sex. So therefore, until you’ve told me why “don’t take this the wrong way” means “instant sex”, this point is meaningless.

    “And the crux of your argument is, so long as you are not 100% absolutely POSITIVE that ‘cup of coffee’ was FOR SURE a euphemism for sex then Rebecca Watson “misinterpretd” what was happening, “over reacted” to a totally innocent request from a stranger and never should have “accused” him of hitting on her, but if he actually had been, hey, freedom of speech, and women should be considerate of a guy’s fragile feelings because, OMG, she might EMBARRASS him.”

    Never brought up embarrassment. YOU brought up people not having the right to speak without permission, and I simply countered it. And yes, considering the CONTEXT, INCLUDING HIM TELLING HER NOT TO TAKE IT THE WRONG WAY, I DO think that she should probably give us why she thought “cup of coffee” meant sex. Because otherwise IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. If a straight male speaker was in RWs shoes, and the conversation was otherwise identical, and he was stating they were tired of being hit on by “gay men”, I believe people would be calling him homophobic, and telling him that he’s assuming too much. And I specifically said that not only would I have supported her screaming at him in response, I would have almost preferred it, in that it would have allowed him to respond.

    “So apparently we have reached the truism: men are afraid women will laugh at them, and women are afraid men will kill them.” — That’s incredibly sexist. And doesn’t follow from any discussion here. And once again assumes both women and men to be homogenous mass.

    “And you’re saying the MAN’S worry should have priority. Because the number of women physically assaulted by men in the United States every year is ONLY 1.9 million. And there are probably LOTS more men embarrassed than that.” — Since I never mentioned a “man’s worry” about “embarrassment”, this argument makes no sense. Also, never even came CLOSE to saying that “the number of women physically assaulted by men in the US every year is ONLY 1.9 million.” That would be an awful thing to say.

    What I said was that it was unfair of her to presume he was hitting on her when his words as reported by her do not equal “hitting on her”. If the response to that was “Well, he then grabbed his crotch” I’d say “Ah, clearly he was a creeper, so I’m sorry you had to put up with that.” But she never said he did anything like that. As far as I can see, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you seem interesting, would you like to grab a cup of coffee” in RWs mind ALWAYS MEANS SHE’S BEING ASKED FOR SEX. And that is both unfair and sexist of her.

    “And you’re worrying I can’t discuss things rationally? I think looking at the entirety of your arguments above, including the repeated suggestions women “misinterpret” their experiences and their feelings are “irrational” and they are “unfair” to men for no good reason, you’re a rape apologist.” — I assume the only purpose of this was to make me angry. Because being accused of rape apology, something that isn’t AT ALL in my argument anywhere, would make one angry. Especially as you extrapolate a single circumstance in which I question whether “Don’t take this the wrong way” means “I’m about to proposition you”, to mean I question all women ever. Woulnd’t that be the same as me accusing you of claiming all men are rapists? You never did that, but that doesn’t matter, does it? I never said that rape never happens. In fact, I specifically said that such a claim is awful. But, if one cannot even question a SINGLE circumstance in which a woman’s claim does not make sense, even if you admit that in aggregate there are too many claims to be claim there is no problem, then it seems to me that by your logic we cannot EVER question a woman’s interpretation. How is that a fair way to have ideas in the public square? Are you claiming that there is NO SUCH THING as a woman misinterpreting a situation or being unfair? I’ve asked you that before and you didn’t answer. You keep phrasing this debate in general terms, which IT IS NOT ABOUT. IT IS ABOUT THIS SPECIFIC EXAMPLE. And in THIS SPECIFIC EXAMPLE, the woman’s story is that a man said something to her THAT DOES NOT SEEM LIKE A REQUEST FOR SEX TO ME, THAT HE PREFACED BY SAYING “DON’T TAKE THIS THE WRONG WAY”, and she chose to interpret it as a request for sex. But to say anything about that, according to you, makes me a rape apologist.

  • crowepps

    “You decided you knew better than she did what had happened, and you were comfortable explaining it to everyone else.”


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