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Rebecca Watson - Skepticism and Feminism
Posted: 21 July 2011 02:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
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Isn’t a “first impression” a form of stereotyping. It dictates how we interact with others.

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Posted: 21 July 2011 04:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
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This is plain and simply an issue of potential threat and physical power imbalance, that many women face everyday.  By definition I suppose this is sexist, but it is an unfortunate reality.  This is not saying all men are rapists, but it is saying that a woman can’t tell for sure, and she has to take reasonable precautions to protect herself.  When faced with a situation that has the potential for rape, damn-straight it creeps her out, and saying so afterwards in very simple terms to express that insecurity is being very honest, acknowledges her vulnerability in that case, and requires courage to do so.

I’ve never experienced it, nor witnessed it directly, but some enactments of rape on tv and movies, clearly shows to me that it is a vile and disgusting criminal act that can suddenly come out of nowhere, and leave horrendous physical and psychological damage in its aftermath.  Most men never have to have worries of such events happening to them enter their grey matter, and so for them to understand can be difficult.  So, try to put yourself in a situation where you could suffer major physical trauma, without knowing for certain when it could be triggered, or who might trigger it, to see what that fear feels like.  The closest it comes to for me is rock climbing…the danger of a trauma or death fall is ever present, and if I get the sense there is something wrong with equipment placement/use (==being in elevator alone with more powerful man), and my belay partner is unknown, lacks proper technique, or isn’t paying attention (==more physically powerful man makes inappropriate request in inappropriate place), then the fear can be overpowering and it takes great composure to keep one’s cool, and continue methodically to try to correct the situation (==politely decline invitation request) to hopefully a satisfactory end (==he doesn’t get pissed off and rape me).

For the women in my life (daughters, wife), I always encourage them to be aware of their surroundings (escape routes, other people around, visibility), be with a trusted friend if at all possible, and never be alone in a confined space with a stranger.  That’s just being pragmatic in the real world we live in.  Not desirable, but at this point in history, in this society, necessary for your own safety.  While she *shouldn’t* have to, perhaps next time Rebecca might want a trusted friend to escort her to her room in similar circumstances?  I agree it sucks to have to do that if a man doesn’t, but that, for now, seems to be the reality.

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Posted: 21 July 2011 05:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
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pragma - 21 July 2011 04:58 AM

For the women in my life (daughters, wife), I always encourage them to be aware of their surroundings (escape routes, other people around, visibility),...

The term is “situational awareness,” and it applies to everyone. Goggle that term and there’s a lot on it. Look for the link to a 2006? post by a world renown security firm - they talk about everyone from a kidnapped journalist in Pakistan to a women walking in a parking lot at night.

Situational awareness means that I, as a straight, white male, statistically has less to be concerned about because I’m not

- a black man
- a Hispanic man
- a gay man
- a woman of any race or preference

I can, however, be conscience of that difference and be sympathetic to their situation - at least to the point of not contributing negatively to their situation.

Those who focus on only part of what was said, or compare the incident to other mundane incidents, or what a woman wears (which I encountered elsewhere) have not shown to me that they have good situational awareness.

- asking someone for coffee is not the same thing as asking someone back to your room
- asking someone back to your room for coffee is not the same thing as asking someone back to your room at 4 a.m.
- asking someone back to your room at 4 a.m. Is not the same as asking someone back to your room at 4 a.m. when you’re alone with them in a confined space with no easy exit like an elevator.

There are other considerations I could list, but the bottom line for me is if you can’t understand the other person’s point of view in this instance, then you don’t demonstrate good situational awareness.

And you don’t demonstrate good situational awareness, when the zombie apocalypse comes, I’m definitely tripping you.

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Posted: 21 July 2011 05:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
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I’m female and I’d advise her to man up.

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Posted: 21 July 2011 05:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
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Ps. I have also been the victim of a real attempted rape, yet I still wouldn’t whine about a guy in an elevator finding me attractive unless there was any real threat.

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Posted: 21 July 2011 06:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
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fingermouse - 21 July 2011 05:50 AM

... I still wouldn’t whine about a guy in an elevator finding me attractive unless there was any real threat.

Trip.

PS, I once helped a woman escape from what was developing into a gang rape.

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Posted: 21 July 2011 07:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
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fingermouse - 21 July 2011 05:50 AM

Ps. I have also been the victim of a real attempted rape, yet I still wouldn’t whine about a guy in an elevator finding me attractive unless there was any real threat.

That’s fine for you.  Maybe you’re that hypothetical kickboxer mentioned above smile  ... but maybe Rebecca is less combative and just wants to live in a world where fear of strangers is less of a problem.  She wasn’t, IMHO, whining, just pointing out that someone made her feel uncomfortable.  She was also giving out very valid free dating advice:  If you want to come across as a total creep, proposition someone in an elevator or other physically isolated location.

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Posted: 21 July 2011 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
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PZ Myers has provided another link. I’ll continue to stay on the sidelines of this conversation as long as these excellent posts continue.
Please Read
You may want to skip down to the “Manifesto for Change” at the bottom. And as PZ says, “ If you can’t see the value of it, you are the problem.”

A couple important quotes, the author describes her many experiences in the male dominated world and says, “And yet I have had far more negative experiences with men in the skeptic/atheist community than anywhere else.”

This should be cause for concern for a movement that currently is very unpopular.

This situation should have stayed a minor incident, and would have if the man in question would have taken this advice from the posted link,

If a woman calls you out on your behavior, instead of getting angry and defensive, just say, “Wow, I never thought of it like that. I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. It wasn’t intentional.” Cop to the behavior, and we can all move on.

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Posted: 21 July 2011 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
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ullrich - 21 July 2011 07:54 AM

fingermouse - 21 July 2011 05:50 AM

Ps. I have also been the victim of a real attempted rape, yet I still wouldn’t whine about a guy in an elevator finding me attractive unless there was any real threat.

That’s fine for you.  Maybe you’re that hypothetical kickboxer mentioned above smile  ... but maybe Rebecca is less combative and just wants to live in a world where fear of strangers is less of a problem.  She wasn’t, IMHO, whining, just pointing out that someone made her feel uncomfortable.  She was also giving out very valid free dating advice:  If you want to come across as a total creep, proposition someone in an elevator or other physically isolated location.

I’m 5ft tall and thin as a rake, and whimper pretty easily. But still, I accept that as a young woman, especially if I am out at night time, I am likely to be propositioned sometimes. If it is nothing but a question, with no physical threat and no menace, I take it as a compliment. An elevator may not have been the smartest move, but at 4am he was likely drunk or exhausted, or even if he was perfectly sober and lucid, I’d see it as a minor slip up, not worthy of a mention. A guy having asked an attractive woman if she wanted to hang out at a hotel is certainly not worth all this fuss, if you ask me. There’s real sexism to be fighting, after all.

Equality doesn’t mean you have to stop being human. I kind of feel for the guy involved. All she had to say was “thanks, but no thanks” and that could have been the end of it. Instead, his efforts have been made a public misdemeanor for no reason. Who else tells the world about guys they’ve turned down, claiming they’ve been wrongly sexualised?

[ Edited: 21 July 2011 10:09 AM by fingermouse ]
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Posted: 21 July 2011 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
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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.”

Blame Hollywood. Something similar to that happens in about every spy or political thriller movie I’ve ever seen - and it usually works out for the male protagonist.

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Posted: 21 July 2011 02:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]
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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?

In her original video, she said more after that. When she started saying that people’s reactions were “misogynist” or “sexist”, it wasn’t clear if she was talking about reactions at the conference or (as I thought) she was including elevator guy’s proposition as “misogynist” and “sexist”. Also I think a lot of men and maybe some women are confused when they hear Rebecca use this example as someone unfairly sexualizing her, and we wonder where to draw the line. She doesn’t want to be hit on in the conference, how about six or eight hours after the conference ended? If she was asking that no one who sees her at the conference ever hit on her for at least 48 hours or 2 months, to ensure they were thinking of her as more than just a sexual object during the conference, then she didn’t communicate that clearly. Honestly, if there’s a consensus among women that asking them out on Tuesdays is bad or taboo or ineffective, I think men will listen if only to hone their skills. But if it’s unfair to “sexualize” women or “sexually objectify” them, then how else will the human race continue? Cloning?

All of us who had loving parents are alive now because our parents sexualized each other and sexually objectified each other for some small amount of the time, and some of them were capable of respecting each other and loving each other. Their pillow-talk probably did not include “I respect you as an individual so much right now”. The question is what amount of time can people spend respectfully sexualizing or objectifying each other without being sexist or without just using each other? Watson seemed to be saying zero. That position will get a lot of people talking.

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Posted: 21 July 2011 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]
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It’s interesting to note how many people emphasize the scary elevator, emphasize that it was 4 AM and Watson was not in her home country, yet they leave out that she was coming out of the hotel bar at 4 AM, where she had seen or talked to this same guy. (In another interview, she clarified that elevator guy definitely heard her say she was exhausted and going to bed.) After hearing a woman talk about sexism in the skeptic/atheist community and not wanting to get hit on, an intelligent person would probably be very careful about the conditions under which he asks her out, might give a disclaimer like “Don’t take this the wrong way” and point out that he finds her very interesting (maybe just a ploy) and invite her for some coffee and conversation instead of something more direct.

But what does it communicate to people when you hang out in a bar until 4 AM? A woman who hangs out in a bar until 4 AM should not be surprised if someone propositions her, even if she complained earlier in the day the day before about the way people hit on her.

I’m not saying a woman who hangs out in a bar deserves everything bad that might happen to her. But if you dislike getting hit on that much, would you spend all night and most of the next morning in a bar? Do they have bars in your culture? Are you aware of what bars mean and for what purposes people go there in the UK and US? Sorry, but to me that piece of context trumps the fact that he asked in an elevator, or the time of day, or her assumptions that the guy was objectifying her or had no respectful intent.

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Posted: 21 July 2011 03:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]
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You may want to skip down to the “Manifesto for Change” at the bottom. And as PZ says, “ If you can’t see the value of it, you are the problem.”

Oh great. There’s no room for intelligent people to disagree on this. There are only people who are obviously right and people who “don’t get it.”

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Posted: 21 July 2011 03:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]
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Are you aware of what bars mean and for what purposes people go there in the UK and US?

That trumps all those other things? Really? Bars serve many purposes. For one, they are the places that are open at 4AM. I’m married, so I don’t meet women in bars anymore, but if I was sitting at a table in a bar with you and some women and you said what you just said, I would claim to not be with you.

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Posted: 21 July 2011 05:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]
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I started a blog and wrote a post: http://www.takenobullshit.com/feminism-and-elevators-part-i “Feminism and Elevators Part I”

Women: You do not have some inalienable right to not be propositioned by men in an innocent fashion, and not all men are rapists or potential rapists.

Men: Don’t be fucking creepy and maybe women won’t over react to your advances. Wait until the elevator door is open and then make your proposition.

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