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Rebecca Watson - Skepticism and Feminism
Posted: 30 July 2011 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 121 ]
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Curt Nelson - 30 July 2011 04:25 AM

It’s remarkable to me that RW, who’s supposed to be a skeptical and
feminist leader, can write what she did about Richard Dawkins (her The
Privilege Delusion post), and THAT isn’t what people are riled up about—
instead of her remarks about the elevator incident and Dawkins’ response to
them. Playing lots of “name that logical fallacy” and becoming a feminist don’t
seem to have prepared her to handle the situation at all well.

Lets start with your Straw Man.

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Posted: 31 July 2011 02:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 122 ]
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Curt Nelson - 30 July 2011 04:25 AM

It’s remarkable to me that RW, who’s supposed to be a skeptical and
feminist leader, can write what she did about Richard Dawkins (her The
Privilege Delusion post), and THAT isn’t what people are riled up about—
instead of her remarks about the elevator incident and Dawkins’ response to
them. Playing lots of “name that logical fallacy” and becoming a feminist don’t
seem to have prepared her to handle the situation at all well.

What is it that she wrote?  I read the post, but…

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Posted: 31 July 2011 02:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 123 ]
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Citizen of Dis - 30 July 2011 10:21 AM

Skepchick reminds me of the girl in this cartoon (the imaginary one, not the real one, the real ones lose out because of experiences guys have with girls like Skepchick):
creepy.png

That said, while I think her attitude of getting offended every time a guy flirts with her or hots on her, the elevator guy was probably purposely trying to goad her/get a rise out of her, and boy did he succeed!

So, in other words, you view Watson as totally justified?

Actually, maybe I can get you to argue with each other.

Rebecca Watson, “The Privilege Delusion”:

So I started speaking more about women. About how they’re not idiots. About how they can think logically but maybe there are other social pressures keeping them away from our message, like how we tell women they should be quiet and polite and not question what is told to them. I spoke about how people need role models, and there were so few women on stage at these events.

And I got messages from women who told me about how they had trouble attending pub gatherings and other events because they felt uncomfortable in a room full of men. They told me about how they were hit on constantly and it drove them away. I didn’t fully get it at the time, because I didn’t mind getting hit on. But I acknowledged their right to feel that way and I started suggesting to the men that maybe they relax a little and not try to get in the pants of every woman who walks through the door. Maybe they could wait for her to make the first move, just in case.

And then, for the past few years as the audience for Skepchick and SGU grew, I’ve had more and more messages from men who tell me what they’d like to do to me, sexually. More and more men touching me without permission at conferences. More and more threats of rape from those who don’t agree with me, even from those who consider themselves skeptics and atheists. More and more people telling me to shut up and go back to talking about Bigfoot and other topics that really matter.

And I said no. I learned more about modern feminism and about how their goals so clearly overlapped those of the humanists and skeptics and secularists, and I wrote and spoke more about the issues within that overlap because so few other skeptics were doing it.

So here we are today. I am a feminist, because skeptics and atheists made me one.

[ Edited: 31 July 2011 02:17 AM by Contradiction ]
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Posted: 31 July 2011 09:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 124 ]
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“Well, PZ Myers, Jen McCreight, Phil Plait, Amanda Marcotte, Greg Laden, Melissa McEwan and others have all already said it, but I figured I should post this for the record: yes, Richard Dawkins believes I should be a good girl and just shut up about being sexually objectified because it doesn’t bother him. Thanks, wealthy old heterosexual white man!”

That’s the opening paragraph of RW’s The Privilege Delusion post. It’s hard to get past it. RW’s comments about her elevator incident were reasonable. RD’s response was insensitive; he had another point of view and communicated it sarcastically. It’s all interesting but beyond that?…

But RW - a person who calls herself skepchick, titles a regular section of her blog “quickies,” and finishes her brief bio on the SGU website with: She occasionally poses in skeptic pin-up calendars… well, I’d say she pretty well sexually objectifies herself. Anyway, RD certainly didn’t give his okay to her being sexually objectified. She focuses her sharpest argument with: Thanks, wealthy old… and indicates she will no longer be promoting his books—because of course all his intellectual creations are soured because he’s a jerk!! She didn’t call him a jerk; that’s just me making my point: Her response to him is illogical, irrational, mean.

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Posted: 31 July 2011 11:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 125 ]
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Curt Nelson - 31 July 2011 09:09 AM

“Well, PZ Myers, Jen McCreight, Phil Plait, Amanda Marcotte, Greg Laden, Melissa McEwan and others have all already said it, but I figured I should post this for the record: yes, Richard Dawkins believes I should be a good girl and just shut up about being sexually objectified because it doesn’t bother him. Thanks, wealthy old heterosexual white man!”

That’s the opening paragraph of RW’s The Privilege Delusion post. It’s hard to get past it.

Wait, so, do you disagree with it, or what?

I mean, using one’s own problems to say “you don’t have it bad; shut up” is one thing, but the guy is just, stone cold, borrowing someone else’s problems like “Stop trash talking my beloved movement!  Poor women are starving somewhere!”

And it’s relevant that a person is a wealthy old heterosexual white man in that case.

But RW - a person who calls herself skepchick, titles a regular section of her blog “quickies,” and finishes her brief bio on the SGU website with: She occasionally poses in skeptic pin-up calendars… well, I’d say she pretty well sexually objectifies herself.

Excellent, excellent!  Now.  How can it be that such a frigid, uptight Womyn’s Studies major is also deliberately sexually objectifying herself?

One of you two must be wrong!

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Posted: 31 July 2011 11:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 126 ]
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Wow, this has turned into a free for all.

I see the incident as no more significant than driving on the freeway and some asshole cuts in front of me endangering my life.

If I tell that story, everyone says, “yes, what is the world coming to ...” , and have another swig of beer…in the pub.

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Posted: 01 August 2011 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 127 ]
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I think the reason why this post has come to 9 pages is simply because it touches on the age-old divide/debate (albeit trivial) between man and woman. The way I see it, this whole sense of sexual victimization that women often complain of springs from one of many inherent evils of capitalism - the fact that it has turned women, like virtually everything else, into a commodity.
  According to Engels (Origins of the Family), the family in primeval societies used be headed by the mother (women) because, thanks to the promiscuity that prevailed in those days, it was only through the mother than one could trace his descent. In those days of yore the mother was the head of the family, and vestiges of that custom can still be seen in certain primitive societies. But then (eventually) capitalism came along and changed all that - and much more.
      I think RW is guilty of the classic crime of blaming it all on the symptom rather than the cause. But then she is bound by chains of the ‘system’ and (with the force of a syllogism) lost perspective.

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Posted: 22 August 2011 10:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 128 ]
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Vic333 - 25 July 2011 06:04 AM

I just hope that Rebecca can find the strength to get past this horrendous incident.

boing!  My sarcasm detector just went off!  The elevator incident was not that horrendous.  The over the top reaction from the million macho morons movement to her quite reasonable dating advice video was.  Her reaction to RD’s insensitive reaction was also a bit over the top, but I can see why it might have pissed her off at the time.

Judging by RW’s subsequent comments re this incident and its aftermath, it seems pretty clear that she has, indeed, found the requisite strength to get past it.

I’m a bit bemused by the comments that suggest that the fact that she was in a bar at 4am was somehow an invalidating factor re her subsequent discomfort with the elevator incident.  Seems like an analogy for men which never comes up for some strange reason is that guys who stumble out of a bar at 4am are begging to be mugged.

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Posted: 22 August 2011 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 129 ]
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ullrich - 22 August 2011 10:05 AM

I’m a bit bemused by the comments that suggest that the fact that she was in a bar at 4am was somehow an invalidating factor re her subsequent discomfort with the elevator incident.  Seems like an analogy for men which never comes up for some strange reason is that guys who stumble out of a bar at 4am are begging to be mugged.

Mugging doesn’t seem like a good analogy for a sexual proposition.

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Posted: 22 August 2011 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 130 ]
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Why not?  Both use violence or the threat of violence to violate the rights of the victim.  The point wasn’t that there was 100% certainty of an impending violent attack, nevertheless the threat was there.  No witnesses, no recourse had she been attacked.

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Posted: 22 August 2011 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 131 ]
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Even if we accept the hypothesis put forward here by several people that RW blew up this issue for her personal gain, she does raise a valid concern.  The response from the mmmm also tends to re-enforce those concerns.  Many people seem to have difficulty imagining situations which they have not, themselves, experienced.  IMHO, if the secular humanist movement is to succeed at stemming the current drive to a new dark age, we need all the help we can get and making the movement attractive to women and other humans who don’t (as I do) fall into the category of prosperous old white male—is a pretty important project.

I’m most of the way through Sikivu Hutchinson’s excellent book “Moral Combat”.  Her take on why so few non-whites are involved in atheist organization is very interesting and insightful.  One big problem is that there is an unfortunate tendency for the members in these organizations to react to non-white and women’s concerns with the traditional chant of “That’s not important, sit down and shut up!” 

Regardless of her motivation, Rebecca has done a service to the humanist movement by bringing a bit of focus on these issues.

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Homeopaths don’t have brains, just skull water with the memory of brains - Robin Ince of The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast
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Posted: 22 August 2011 11:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 132 ]
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ullrich - 22 August 2011 11:00 AM

Why not?  Both use violence or the threat of violence to violate the rights of the victim.  The point wasn’t that there was 100% certainty of an impending violent attack, nevertheless the threat was there.  No witnesses, no recourse had she been attacked.

I disagree that there was a threat of violence in the meek proposition that Watson described. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting. ... Would you like to come up to my room for a drink?”

This is precisely why there has been a big reaction to such a supposedly small matter, because some number of people hear that as an implied threat and some of us don’t.

Panhandling or begging would make a better analogy to a proposition. “Could you give me a dollar?” In some instances that might be the first step before the person turns it into a mugging, but the difference between begging and mugging is like the difference between proposition and sexual assault. Is all panhandling just a precursor to mugging? Are all propositions just precursors to sexual assault? I don’t think so.

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Posted: 22 August 2011 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 133 ]
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deidzoeb - 22 August 2011 11:46 AM
ullrich - 22 August 2011 11:00 AM

Why not?  Both use violence or the threat of violence to violate the rights of the victim.  The point wasn’t that there was 100% certainty of an impending violent attack, nevertheless the threat was there.  No witnesses, no recourse had she been attacked.

I disagree that there was a threat of violence in the meek proposition that Watson described. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting. ... Would you like to come up to my room for a drink?”
.

...and as someone who has experienced violence in an elevator, I can tell you that this IS very threatening. Just because you lack the imagination to see it as such, doesn’t make it so.

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Posted: 24 August 2011 05:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 134 ]
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Just listened to this episode, and though I think feminist issues are important in that they bring up situations to strive for equality amongst men, and women, I’ll have to disagree with Rebecca’s statement about the guy on the elevator.  Fact is, she is not a victim.  She has the right to say NO THANKS, and leave it at that.  Unless the guy actually made efforts at forcing himself into a situation made clear by Rebecca she didn’t want, there was nothing done wrong.  To go off from what’d happened to assert that no guy should proposition a girl in such a situation is plain wrong. For some people when all parties are willing, there is nothing wrong with getting together for a good time, though proper anti-STD protection should be used to be safe.  Rebecca’s a smart person, and she’s also really attractive.  The fact she carries a skeptical feminist mindset to me makes her all the more attractive.  Even so, she’s not some victim weakling.  She has the ability to deny sexual advances anyone may have toward her.  Things going bad due to coming across violent aggressors is a thing we all risk dealing with in life.  Walking down the street anywhere there is the possibility of coming across someone with a gun or knife trying to rob you.  We can try our best to defend ourselves through self-defense training, carrying mace, so on, and so forth, but it’s just the way things can happen.  This is not, however, inevitably the case. Many people aren’t violent psychos, and are willing to respect a person when he/she says “I’m not interested.”  I’ll never be sexually propositioning Rebecca in an elevator, unless, she’s made clear it’s something she wants, and I’ve grown a personal relationship with her that has reached that level, however, I’m also not going to deny others the right to do so, provided their intentions remain respectful of the desires of all parties involved.

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Posted: 25 August 2011 05:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 135 ]
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KnowCause - 24 August 2011 05:38 PM

I’ll never be sexually propositioning Rebecca in an elevator, unless, she’s made clear it’s something she wants….

This is part of my complaint. She made it clear at the conference (and maybe at the bar later) that she was annoyed by people propositioning her at conferences. To some people, the hotel where lots of people are discussing the conference might seem to be included as part of the conference. To me, he wasn’t propositioning her at the conference or during the conference. Maybe she needed to make it clearer if she meant no propositions within X miles or Z weeks of seeing her at a conference.

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