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Rebecca Watson - Skepticism and Feminism
Posted: 19 July 2011 06:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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omniomi - 19 July 2011 05:25 PM

My apologies, you quoted the U.S. constitution - so I assumed.

I apologize as well - I should have been more clear. I specified the U.S. Constitution because I am (unfortunately) still more familiar with it than with Canadian law. I’m working on fixing that.

It’s important to me that I live in a country where everyone is considered equal and has equal rights - luckily, my husband agrees with that sentiment and wanted to stay here as well. The U.S. had an opportunity to add a constitutional amendment guaranteeing equality for women, but it wasn’t ratified by enough states and has not taken effect. A Supreme Court justice actually stated that it was legal to discriminate against women because we aren’t guaranteed equal protection under the law.

For what it’s worth, I find it reprehensible that there’s a huge push to demonize people based on who they want to sleep with or who they fall in love with. The government has absolutely no right to interfere with the lives of consenting adults. Full stop.

Sorry, got interrupted (again!) by a phone call, but will address your other points as quickly as I can.

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Posted: 19 July 2011 06:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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craggles - 19 July 2011 06:06 PM

How can you outright ignore all the laws of the jungle responsible for our very existence?

Because humans have higher brain functions and are quite capable of regulating themselves in public?

I don’t wish to be treated as a mindless animal, therefore I do not act like one. If other people wish to be treated as humans, then acting like mindless animals isn’t the way to go about it.

Why not flip the question around? If i dont feel it outright rude to interrupt someone in this situation then why should i NOT prefer talking to the female over the male?

I think you missed the point. If you wouldn’t find it rude to interrupt either a man or a woman, then you’re treating them as equals. That’s a good thing. If you thought it was rude but still interrupted the woman anyway…well, that’s rude. It’s civility and common politeness.

The rest of it about hanging around in a creepy fashion need not apply, that much is common sense and is not the issue at hand.

Yes, it actually was the issue at hand. That’s what most women have to put up with on a daily basis. Being treated as an equal is a rarity, and quite a few women appreciate knowing that someone who’s interested in them actually respects boundaries and acts like a decent human being.

Your question and following paragraph seems to completely ignore mechanisms deep set in our biology.

Again, do you or do you not have higher brain functions with which you can regulate your social activities? If you wish to act like a mindless animal and be treated like one, then full steam ahead and be prepared to get blown off by the women you annoy with your approach.

It is also very opinionated.

Try being on the receiving end of sexual harassment and assault for more than thirty years. My first experience was at the charming age of eight when my step-brother thought it’d be funny to drop his pants and try to get me to suck his…well, you figure it out. More than 30 years later, and I still get men treating me as an object that’s supposed to be available for their whims and not have opinions of my own. Too bad.

Its a risk scale value judgement. Obviously if I deemed it incredibly rude i wouldn’t approach either. But if the rude factor was small enough and the possibility of reward was favored over the risk of her small inconvenience then I would consider approaching the lady. You cant just make these closed questions and not consider all the factors involved.

See, that’s a good way to think of it. You’re willing to acknowledge that there are times when it’s rude to interrupt people regardless of the attraction factor. That’s using those higher brain functions to regulate your social activities, in spite of the fact that you think the law of the jungle applies. That means you should have a decent chance at having some solid interactions with women because you’re willing to consider them as equals. Again, that’s kind of a rarity for most of us, and I’m sure it will be appreciated.

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Posted: 19 July 2011 06:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Sethra Lavode - 19 July 2011 06:30 PM

Because humans have higher brain functions and are quite capable of regulating themselves in public?

I’m not saying we should all behave like animals. Merely pointing out that men, if given the choice should be able to favor striking up a converstaion with a female over a male. By the tone of your message I thought you were denying this. Now case in point, this bias exists right? So why would it not apply even if I deemed it possibly rude to interrupt any of the two? If there were two men, and I still decided to do it, then why not in the same situation with a women, favor her? Is it really that unfair?

Yes, it actually was the issue at hand. That’s what most women have to put up with on a daily basis. Being treated as an equal is a rarity, and quite a few women appreciate knowing that someone who’s interested in them actually respects boundaries and acts like a decent human being.

The issue at hand was a simple elevator converstaion. So you feel there is a disproportionate amount of men doing indecent deeds to women than the other way around? I dont know the facts here. In the proffesional enviroment a fair days work should recieve a fair days pay irrespective of sex. And common respect should be applied to every citizen of earth. But you would be mad to think everyone is born equal… thats simply not how the world works. If I was at a party, do you think I would give equal attention to every women there if i was looking for a partner?

Feminists conveniently forget all the pressures females put on men. I would probably get linched for even bringing some of them up.

If you want to raise awareness to men that this is not a good way to behave and it effects both sides negatively, then that’s fine. What i worry about is lobbyists sticking their finger in state law and making pathetic policies that can do more harm than good. The few bad eggs should be treated as that, bad eggs. I have certainly met my fair share of women like that. I see it as part of life and have much more pressing issues going on.

[ Edited: 19 July 2011 07:05 PM by craggles ]
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Posted: 19 July 2011 06:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Sethra Lavode - 19 July 2011 05:54 PM

Here’s a good litmus test for you.

If you see a man at your local library and he’s typing away on his laptop and frowning intently at the screen, would you wander over and interrupt him to start a conversation with him?

If you see a woman at your local library and she’s typing away on her laptop and frowning intently at the screen, would you wander over and interrupt her to start a conversation with her?

If you would consider it rude to interrupt either of them, then you’re way ahead of many men. This happened to me a couple of weeks ago at my local library. I still don’t understand why a complete stranger thought it was acceptable to interrupt me when I clearly looked like I was concentrating on something. I gave him a short, terse answer and kept working, and he stood there staring at me for nearly 10 minutes before going away, getting visibly angry that I wouldn’t try and continue the conversation. This behavior is rude, regardless of whether a person has any sexual interest in another person or not.

His behavior was rude (or socially unaware), yes, and I am in no way making excuses for it, but what about your behavior? Is it acceptable to ignore someone who is trying to have a conversation with you, without first making sure they understand why? Are you sure he cared about your attractiveness over your status as a human being, or do you think perhaps he was just rude because he felt you were ignoring him for no discernible reason? Maybe he thought you were just acting busy because you disliked him (pre-judged him?), rather than being actually busy. Do you know for certain whether or not he noticed your wedding ring?

You seem to be assuming a lot about his motivations here. In fact, frankly it makes it sound like you’re sexist against men. If the man was just socially unaware, maybe you could have found it in your heart to explain, “sorry, I’m kinda busy right now”; or at least acknowledged his existence as a fellow human being and said something to him rather than let him stand there for 10 minutes as if he didn’t exist.

If the man was a woman instead, would you ignore her as readily?

If you see an attractive woman reading a book and you want to talk to her, ask yourself if you’d interrupt a man who was reading the same text. If you wouldn’t interrupt the man based on it being rude but you would interrupt the woman, then your interest in the woman as a sexual object outweighs her status as a human being deserving of equal consideration.

Is it possible that my interest in her is not as a sexual object, but as a human being of the opposite sex and all that entails? Why do you assume my interest in her is as a sexual object only?

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Posted: 19 July 2011 07:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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One of the problems with the word equality in this discussion is you imply women cannot proposition men, so the equality is that men shouldn’t be able to proposition women in the manner described…

I would argue most heterosexual men would appreciate being hit on by a woman, so women are free to hit on men as they please… So you aren’t arguing for equality here, you are arguing to place a restriction on men that doesn’t exist for women. The fact the vast majority of women do not actively hit on men is irrelevant, it’s their choice not a societal constraint like the one you are trying to impose on men.

Men piss standing up you don’t (but theoretically can), would you like to fight for bathroom equality and have men not have urinals? When two groups CAN do something and one chooses not to, trying to force the other not to is not a fight for equality.

[ Edited: 19 July 2011 07:06 PM by omniomi ]
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Posted: 19 July 2011 07:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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omniomi - 19 July 2011 05:14 PM

Flirtation is not sexual harassment or regular harassment unless it progresses past “I’m not interested.” In Rebecca’s original video she does not say the man in the elevator pressured her beyond the initial invitation.

He did not, but he was at the same table at the bar, where she was discussing how much she hated being hit on and then told everyone she was exhausted and heading off to get some sleep. He didn’t speak to her at all at the bar, ignored everything she said and followed her to the elevator. Because his need to interact with her was more important than her stated desire to be left alone and get some sleep. That’s harassment.

Harassment: “commonly understood as behaviour intended to disturb or upset, and it is characteristically repetitive.”

Exactly.

This is not a conversation about cat calling, or obscene flirtation.

In this particular instance, no. In the wider skeptic community, yes it is. In the world at large, hell yes. It’s all part of the same issue, that women are not seen as equal human beings to be treated with respect. I’ve been to one conference, and I will never attend another because I find it highly offensive that men feel free to invade my personal space in order to stare down my shirt or grope me without my consent.

We are not talking about men who won’t take “no” for an answer… Rebecca directly addressed ALL MEN and told ALL MEN that propositioning for coffee is not acceptable.

She did not. She said that she had spent the night talking about how much she hated being hit on, and having a guy come and hit on her - in an elevator at 4 am - right after having said she did not wish to receive that kind of attention was not acceptable.

Further, ones definition of a creepy or awkward situation will be different from that of others.

Indeed, so a good rule of thumb is to treat everyone with equal respect.

Do I need to keep reminding you I’m gay? I’m that guy who women go to for some gossiping about men and ogling of men. Women tell their gay friends everything. Don’t try and feed me some bullshit about women not objectifying men, My female friends constantly point out hot men to me.

And do they walk up to those men and say, “Nice ass!” or anything similar? Do they interrupt guys regardless of what they’re doing in order to get their attention? If they do, then that’s equally rude. There is no problem with anyone appreciating the male form, or with anyone appreciating the female form. There is a problem when one lets one’s sexual desire overrule the idea that others should be treated as human beings.

Why do you think shows like True Blood which are marketed at women feature dozens of extremely attractive men constantly removing their clothing…. Women online who post on True Blood fan sites or twitter seem to love the character of Eric Northman even though he is a manipulative ass… Do you really think they all love him for his personality? Or could it be his stunning good looks, amazing muscles, and tight ass which is constantly shown.

Because we’re socialized to think that’s ideal. Think of most Hollywood movies - the female lead almost always has to be taken care of, and half the sex scenes start out as sexual assault or rape, but the guy won’t stop so the woman gives in. That’s not a healthy perspective to keep feeding people.

I have worked under female team leads, female directors, and female national directors and do you know what industry I am in? I work in IT a predominately male industry. There are also plenty of laws protecting women’s rights and you are perfectly free to leave your marriage if you have issues at home. I will not deny that we still live in a male centric society still but you come off as suggesting we still live in a society where women cannot get ahead at work, where women are the property of their husbands, and where government and the judicial system ignore the plight of women… That is simply not the case… We have a ways to go yet, but we are not still sitting at the beginning of the feminist movement, the movement has accomplished much - you be little the accomplishment of feminists before you.

I’m not sure what country you’re in, so I’ll pass along what I know of the U.S. since I’m most familiar with its lovely foibles.

* Women can be arrested for having miscarriages.
* Women brought a class-action lawsuit against Walmart showing systemic gender bias in pay and promotions, and the Supreme Court said they didn’t have a case and threw them out.
* Pregnant women can literally be strapped down against their will and forced to undergo medical procedures without consent, regardless of whether they will survive the procedure.
* Women’s medical coverage is repeatedly targeted by politicians…but they leave men alone.
* Talking heads always discuss the clothing and appearance of female politicians, but not male ones.
* Victim-blaming and slut-shaming are considered entertainment, including by the press that’s supposed to offer “unbiased” news.

These are varying levels of the same type of disregard for women. We’ve lost a great deal of ground since the feminist wave of the 70s.

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Posted: 19 July 2011 07:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Sethra Lavode - 19 July 2011 07:06 PM
omniomi - 19 July 2011 05:14 PM

Flirtation is not sexual harassment or regular harassment unless it progresses past “I’m not interested.” In Rebecca’s original video she does not say the man in the elevator pressured her beyond the initial invitation.

He did not, but he was at the same table at the bar, where she was discussing how much she hated being hit on and then told everyone she was exhausted and heading off to get some sleep. He didn’t speak to her at all at the bar, ignored everything she said and followed her to the elevator. Because his need to interact with her was more important than her stated desire to be left alone and get some sleep. That’s harassment.

If what you are implying is the case, then this has nothing to do with real legitimate sexual harassment and more to do with flat out shit stirring, teasing or just plain old harassment. There is a very real sarcastic undertone to that kind of behavior and it would take a feminazi to blow it up into a battle of the sexes. Massive jerk? yea sure, he may be. But condemning that kind of behavior in the context Rebecca was framing it is sensationalist hodge podge.

[ Edited: 19 July 2011 07:14 PM by craggles ]
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Posted: 19 July 2011 07:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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I’m not sure what country you’re in, so I’ll pass along what I know of the U.S. since I’m most familiar with its lovely foibles.

* Women can be arrested for having miscarriages.
* Women brought a class-action lawsuit against Walmart showing systemic gender bias in pay and promotions, and the Supreme Court said they didn’t have a case and threw them out.
* Pregnant women can literally be strapped down against their will and forced to undergo medical procedures without consent, regardless of whether they will survive the procedure.
* Women’s medical coverage is repeatedly targeted by politicians…but they leave men alone.
* Talking heads always discuss the clothing and appearance of female politicians, but not male ones.
* Victim-blaming and slut-shaming are considered entertainment, including by the press that’s supposed to offer “unbiased” news.

These are varying levels of the same type of disregard for women. We’ve lost a great deal of ground since the feminist wave of the 70s.

I’ll address the rest in a bit but I’ll start here… I’m Canadian. The huge issues you describe do not exist here.

The USA is ass backwards in a lot of respects no denying that. Women’s right are not the only issue in the USA which is why I’ll go back to this: Let’s stop fighting for women’s right to equality and fight for everyone’s rights to equality. In some parts of the USA a woman will most certainly get a job before an atheist male or a transsexual… Everyone needs equality. In the USA unless you are a white, Christian male you’re a second class citizen. Women aren’t the only ones being marginalized.

Can you address this please:

As a sceptic, I am sceptical of the feminist use of the word “equality” because they seem far more focused on replacing a male dominated society with a female dominated society or at the very least on giving rights and protections to women that do not exist for men. Perfect example: Spain’s recent requirement that 40% of boardroom members be female… A 100% female board is perfectly acceptable because there is is no equal requirement that 40% be male.

[ Edited: 19 July 2011 07:16 PM by omniomi ]
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Posted: 19 July 2011 07:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Maybe some nuance of the evening as was lost as related by Watson (after all, I wasn’t there), but as far as it was related the guy on the elevator wasn’t objectifying her, being misogynistic or being, in any other sense, sexist. Yes, it was tacky—maybe even a little creepy—of him to try to pick her up like that. But he wasn’t her boss or co-worker so it wasn’t sexual harassment, he wasn’t invading her space or touching her, he didn’t stalk her to her room and (as far as we know) wan’t being pushy or belligerent when she declined his invitation. Many feminist voices advocate a libertine approach to sexuality which, at worst, is what he was expressing and barring that he was simply inviting her to join him for coffee and conversation (even if that most probably wasn’t his endgame).

Maybe the guy actually was “sexualizing” her. But if so, then Watson’s definition of the term dictates that everybody on the planet is constantly being “sexualized” by around half of the non-familial people they encounter every day. That is to say, “sexualize” must mean thus: to appraise a person for their sexual appeal and select and pursue acceptable potential partners. And if that’s an irredeemably bad thing, we’ll be waiting a long, long time for the world to change.

I’ve argued many times for the feminist cause against people who truly are sexist and/or misogynistic. But some people, which seems to include Watson, like to throw these terms at anyone who either disagrees with them, doesn’t accept their societal model or (heaven forbid!) make an unwanted amorous advance. Ironically, Watson’s behavior is far more sexist than that of the elevator-man.

Dawkins was certainly at his most inarticulate when he offered such a ridiculous argument against her reaction. His behavior may in fact have been sexist in that (I must assume, for he is not an utterly stupid man) he felt a need to respond out of some weird, intuitive displeasure regarding Watson’s reaction to the event and dredged up an invalid argument to rebut it. Rather, a non-sexist criticism would have followed from asking the question: “Is she justified in her characterization of the man in the elevator,” weighing the rational and ethical implications and realizing that she was not for the fact that she has confused her annoyance and alarm at an unwanted allegedly-sexual proposition for the feelings of victimization and degradation that come from being sexually harassed, objectified or marginalized. In this sense, Watson’s and Dawkins’ ideas on the respective matters were very similar in that they both hailed from an unarticulated conglomeration of ideas and feelings that are fundamentally aggravated by imagined motives of a member of the opposite sex.

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Posted: 19 July 2011 09:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Sethra Lavode - 19 July 2011 04:53 PM

I say this as a married woman who still isn’t safe from this type of harassment…you’d think that people would have more class than to hit on someone wearing a wedding ring. Nope.

Just a minor note: On April 8, 2011, Rebecca announced that she was separated from her husband and getting a divorce. I don’t know whether or not she was wearing a ring, but it was public knowledge that she was no longer married in any real sense.

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Posted: 19 July 2011 10:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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She should have mentioned the time that she harassed me because she thought I was a handsome skeptic, I wanted no part of it, but she gave me an attitude! tongue rolleye Kidding.  I have mixed feelings about this womans point of view. It seems naive to me to think that skeptic men will just be more enlightend (translation-do what I like) because they are skeptics. That makes me think somewhat less of her intent, however the guy in the elevator does sound like someone who doesn’t pay attention to context clues, so she is not out of line in criticising him. The concept of a diverse skeptic’s movement is something I’m against; feminists don’t have a place at the table just because they’re feminists. Her hatred of Oprah is very nice to hear. Good on her for that.

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Posted: 19 July 2011 11:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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“Guys, don’t do that,” said Watson. “I was a single woman in a foreign country at 4 am in a hotel elevator with you. Just you. 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.”

The paragraph in the article is all that she said.

Why are so many people all over the net so terribly angry at her?
A lot of the comments are like “Yeah, it’s better not to hit on someone in that situation, but the way she put it is going way too far.”
That is how she put it!  “You shouldn’t hit on someone in that situation!”
Is there some other invisible message that you heard between the lines?

“Women have the right to hit on men, equality would be men having the right to hit on women…”
No, they really don’t.  Women don’t have the “right” to make sexual advances when they feel like it, or to make men uncomfortable for our own convenience.  One has to get off one’s ass and consider the feelings of other people.

I don’t really get why there’s such a large (or at least, a really vocal) group of people taking the position that it’s totally acceptable to make someone else uncomfortable if there’s a chance it might get you laid.  A “small inconvenience,” you say, but it’s not like the benefit is any bigger.

“Rebecca also seems to have a serious issue with men in general, she recently tweeted ‘Misogyny: the assumption that a woman gets upgraded for her tits, not for total miles flown. How did the self check-in even SEE them?’”

Where are men even involved in this sentence?  Are you assuming that someone made a sexist remark to that effect, and that that person must have been a man?

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Posted: 19 July 2011 11:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Contradiction - 19 July 2011 11:25 PM

“Guys, don’t do that,” said Watson. “I was a single woman in a foreign country at 4 am in a hotel elevator with you. Just you. 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.”

The paragraph in the article is all that she said.

Why are so many people all over the net so terribly angry at her?
A lot of the comments are like “Yeah, it’s better not to hit on someone in that situation, but the way she put it is going way too far.”
That is how she put it!  “You shouldn’t hit on someone in that situation!”
Is there some other invisible message that you heard between the lines?

“Women have the right to hit on men, equality would be men having the right to hit on women…”
No, they really don’t.  Women don’t have the “right” to make sexual advances when they feel like it, or to make men uncomfortable for our own convenience.  One has to get off one’s ass and consider the feelings of other people.

I don’t really get why there’s such a large (or at least, a really vocal) group of people taking the position that it’s totally acceptable to make someone else uncomfortable if there’s a chance it might get you laid.  A “small inconvenience,” you say, but it’s not like the benefit is any bigger.

“Rebecca also seems to have a serious issue with men in general, she recently tweeted ‘Misogyny: the assumption that a woman gets upgraded for her tits, not for total miles flown. How did the self check-in even SEE them?’”

Where are men even involved in this sentence?  Are you assuming that someone made a sexist remark to that effect, and that that person must have been a man?

Anyone can make sexual advances anytime they want to. If it works it works, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. You live with whatever consequences there are.

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Posted: 20 July 2011 02:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Anyone can make sexual advances anytime they want to. If it works it works, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. You live with whatever consequences there are.

I’m not sure if you totally understand.  There are also consequences to the person that you’re hitting on.

Usually with conventional pickup lines, you’re just talking to a person who isn’t really doing anything else; you’re not staring fixedly at someone or switching off their monitor or swerving in front of their truck and parking or whatever “small inconvenience” is necessary to get their attention.

I had some more stuff, but picking up MOTAS is not really relevant to my point. :>

[ Edited: 20 July 2011 02:07 AM by Contradiction ]
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Posted: 20 July 2011 02:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Oh, boy! And the ranting continues. As someone who has been threatened by a male… in an elevator… during the day…and had to be rescued by a man who was able to stop the elevator since the man on the elevator wouldn’t allow me access to the control panel, I totally agree with Rebecca on this. The man came across as creepy. I would have felt threatened. Hello! The FIRST thing he ever said to her was to invite her to his room???

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