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Rebecca Watson - Skepticism and Feminism
Posted: 21 July 2011 07:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]
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Write4U - 20 July 2011 03:49 PM

It is also a matter of environment. An elevator is a small closed area and I can see a natural defensive attitude by any person who is smaller than the person making the propososition. Did anyone cite what was actually said?:

Yes, this man had not said anything or approached her to converse in any way the entire evening. He followed her into the elevator after she left the bar saying she was tired and was going to sleep.

He told her that he liked her talk (about not objectifying all of the women at skeptical/atheist conferences as a way of encouraging female participation, and that she was perosnally tired of getting hit on—apparently some men treat conferences as a personal meat market), and I believe he made a reference to her looks, but after that he DID invite her to his room for ‘coffee’.

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Posted: 22 July 2011 05:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]
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Lausten - 21 July 2011 03:12 PM

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.

Yes, when it comes to assessing whether this guy was engaging in sexist or creepy or stalking behavior, it is an important part of the context to consider that this happened in an elevator, the time of night, the fact that this man knew she was far from her home country and not part of a group of travelers, that she had said she dislikes men hitting on her and not respecting her at conferences. Other important parts of the context are that she had apparently seen him earlier in the bar (might have talked to him directly for some length of time for all we know), that he was presumably staying in the same hotel so maybe he would have gotten on the elevator and gone up to his room even if she hadn’t been there (not necessarily stalking her), and that he came out of the same bar that she just came out of at 4 AM.

You would claim not to be with me if I said all that? I’m okay with that. Your mileage may vary. But a lot of this incident comes down to personal judgments of what’s good or bad etiquette, not misogyny or sexism or people who “don’t get it” or some objective position on The Right Way to Respect Women as Watson and some of her supporters seem to paint it.

[ Edited: 22 July 2011 06:00 AM by deidzoeb ]
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Posted: 22 July 2011 06:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]
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Yes, this man had not said anything or approached her to converse in any way the entire evening.

Citation needed. There was nothing in Watson’s initial video saying that. She said in a Citizen Radio interview that he was definitely near enough to hear her say she was exhausted and going to bed. Unless she said more about it somewhere else, she may have talked to him at the conference or in the hotel bar.

Also notice that he invited her to his hotel room, presumably in the same hotel and above the ground floor, so it’s misleading to imply that he stalked her into the elevator.

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Posted: 22 July 2011 03:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]
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deidzoeb - 21 July 2011 02:31 PM

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”.

[listen listen]  I think you may be thinking of a memory-corrupted version of this:

5:50, About Mythbusters, Robot Eyes, Feminism, and Jokes, rkwatson.

Then, Aaren[?] posted the video online, and the response was fascinating!

I wanted to thank all of the misogynists who commented on that video, because some people will watch that video, and they’ll think that maybe I’m exaggerating, you know how girls are, sensitive, and then they’ll read your comments!  And they’ll realise exactly how terrible you are, and how it is a problem. So then we can move on with actually helping to stop the problem.  So thank you for not hiding your misogyny, thank you for putting it on display.

And thank you to those of you who are the opposite of that, ...

Just to clearly say what I’m getting at, she’s talking about the comments section on her video, which does not include the one guy (unless he actually went to the video and posted something misogynist afterward).

Without intending to insult anyone in any way, I think you have been reading too much into what she said; I think there are a large number of people who did the same; and I think it is difficult to be a feminist in public without having a dislike and contempt for men read into your words, regardless of what you actually say.  This is an unfortunate state of affairs which does no one any good.

Whoops, not “ibid”.  I put a transcript of her full remarks from 4:19 on the video for people’s convenience, but it made the post too long.

[ Edited: 22 July 2011 03:39 PM by Contradiction ]
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Posted: 22 July 2011 03:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]
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domokato - 20 July 2011 04:02 PM

I’m fine with women being sexist against men (to an extent). What I’m not fine with is women falsely claiming not to be sexist against men and at the same time expecting men not to be sexist against women. That’s hypocrisy and a double standard. Sexism, prejudice, and stereotyping, while unfair to those on the receiving end, can be accurate and therefore useful to the one applying them*. I would not expect a woman not to be uncomfortable when stuck in an elevator with a man who just made a seemingly inappropriate proposition. I think it is rational for her to apply stereotypes to this man in order to form a reasonable expectation of his motivations and potential actions. That’s fine. Just don’t fault us men for doing the same.

* src: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotyping#Effects.2C_accuracy.2C_terminology . While stereotyping is unfair to those it is being applied to, we cannot expect the stereotyper to completely give up his/her rational self-interest. Should we expect shop owners to be just as weary of well-dressed white people as he/she is of black gangbangers? I think not. So I think the best we can do is strike a balance between stereotyping and not, which is essentially a balance between self and society.

These are some objective and realistic points. Why do I feel that you are the only one addressing the scope of Rebecca’s argument?

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Posted: 23 July 2011 06:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]
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Mountain out of a Molehill, much?

A man with few social skills and less preception, hit on a woman he found attractive in an elevator. She said, “no” and he moved on.

Quick, let us make a huge deal out of something that happens, say 100000 times a day in this world.  Lets also throw in the oppression of women and the fact that there are not a lot of women in the “skepdical movement” and equal it out with a healthy chuck of “feminist angst” and Ms. Watson’s current ‘down with men’ additude.

Can we please talk about something fucking important?

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Posted: 23 July 2011 09:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]
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deidzoeb - 22 July 2011 06:09 AM

Yes, this man had not said anything or approached her to converse in any way the entire evening.

Citation needed. There was nothing in Watson’s initial video saying that. She said in a Citizen Radio interview that he was definitely near enough to hear her say she was exhausted and going to bed. Unless she said more about it somewhere else, she may have talked to him at the conference or in the hotel bar.

Also notice that he invited her to his hotel room, presumably in the same hotel and above the ground floor, so it’s misleading to imply that he stalked her into the elevator.

I said, he followed her into the elevator. I do not know if he was ‘stalking’ her, but if I go into an elevator, and you enter right after me, you are following…
As for talking to her, I will look for a citation, I believe it was mentioned on her skepchick blog that he had not spoken to her.

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Posted: 23 July 2011 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]
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There really is no right or wrong here.

Some men are not very good with women and find them scary to approach, they are most likely to make an advance when they find themselves alone with the woman they desire and yes quite possibly in the wee hours of the night after a few beers for courage, that’s quite ordinary behavior and not necessarily bad. Also believe it or not some women actually like unplanned illicit connections and might quite like the idea of a spontaneous hook up at 4am which is quite healthy as well. It’s different strokes for different folks, it depends on who is being approached, who is doing the approaching and what mood they are in etc

Some women like Rebecca find a stranger making a pass at her whilst alone creepy and threatening and that’s an equally valid reaction because of the threat of sexual violence but saying men who get the timing wrong are in someway bad people or badly behaved is just plain wrong. It comes from the sexist idea that men are always confident and in control therefore they must be skillful in their interactions with women at all times or risk becoming a creepy dickhead.
I object to the idea that the man always has the power therefore his advance is some kind of encroachment on her privacy and must be done with utmost sensitivity and charm and that if he falls short in the sensitivity or charm stakes or chooses the wrong moment he is being a creepy dickhead.

I’m crap with women and have never found a way to approach women confidently but that shouldn’t brand me as a bad person by default. I’m not being a sexist pig, I’m just being a nervous guy. Heart racing, tripping over my words and waiting for the moment when I can ask you in private instead of potentially crashing and burning with an audience.

That’s where this whole debate is wrong it assumes that men always approach women from a position of power and confidence therefore if his advance is clumsy or ill timed it must be because he is an inconsiderate bastard instead of just another vulnerable flawed human being bumbling along.

[ Edited: 23 July 2011 11:36 AM by brucep ]
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Posted: 23 July 2011 11:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]
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Contradiction - 22 July 2011 03:19 PM

Just to clearly say what I’m getting at, she’s talking about the comments section on her video, which does not include the one guy (unless he actually went to the video and posted something misogynist afterward).

Without intending to insult anyone in any way, I think you have been reading too much into what she said; I think there are a large number of people who did the same; and I think it is difficult to be a feminist in public without having a dislike and contempt for men read into your words, regardless of what you actually say.  This is an unfortunate state of affairs which does no one any good.

You may be right. It was difficult to tell from the video which of events she was criticizing as sexist or misogynist.

For what it’s worth, I agree with most of the points Watson raised before and apart from the Elevator incident. The atheist/skeptic community seems likely to be about as sexist as the larger society its drawn from. I’ve been disgusted by most of the knee-jerk sexist and anti-feminist comments and replies. I don’t find it hard to believe that she gets mistreated, disrespected or hit on at conferences. I didn’t think the elevator incident was an egregious example of that though.

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Posted: 23 July 2011 03:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]
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Rebecca,

I swear on my ancestors’ collective graves that if I ever meet you, in an elevator or otherwise, I will most certainly not flirt with you in any way.  You have a truly unattractive personality.  Should I ever have an erection, and then think of you at the same time, you will surely cause it to crawl back up into my body cavity.

Oh wait, it’s not PC to mention erections, is it?  Clearly, a proper atheist should pretend that human procreation occurs as the result of immaculate conception.

Where to start with your nonsense?

Let’s start with what Chris Mooney didn’t touch on, because he was too busy kissing your ass.  Wait, not supposed to mention ass either.  That would be objectifying women.  Kissing your “human chair/couch interface organ”.  Your response to Richard Dawkins’ criticism was to say that you’d never again recommend Dawkins’ work on science or atheism, which you’ve previously stated technical admiration for.  I cannot possibly dream up a better indication that you, as a habit, are prone to blow things out of proportion.  Whether or not you and Dawkins can agree on the proper etiquette for heterosexual interaction in elevators, anyone who doesn’t acknowledge that issue as utterly inconsequential is completely insane.  That you would use a personal difference concerning a trivial issue as justification for dismissal of unrelated technical content, that you claim to agree with, is absolutely a reinforcement of one of the most pervasive female stereotypes that you surely must recognize is detrimental to your gender:  that women cannot be reliably rational.  That as soon as you bring emotion into the equation, the stereotype goes, their fragile emotional response swamps any rational dimension to the issue.  Nice going.  Way to live the cliche.

As far as the original disagreement, you should listen to yourself pleading for your elevator buddy to have a little empathy, while you clearly have zero empathy for his situation.  Zero.  I’m going to assume you’ve never been a man, but let me clue you in to a few things.  You must forgive the condescending tone, but as you used it to lecture men about how we’re supposed to behave, you have a healthy dose of this coming.

In all modern western cultures, women hold all the cards when it comes to social interactions.  The male dominated game you so hate playing in the workplace is completely reversed in our social world.  Men are the ones that must put out the extra effort in order to prove themselves worthy of social opportunity, and women are simply able to sit back, and coldly decide which suitors to grace with their favor.  You have no idea how good you have it.  (Please, no ridiculous anecdotal replies from women about how THEY met their husbands by asking them out .... the vast majority of heterosexual interactions must be male initiated).  Not to mention the fact that you were presumably both nonbelievers.  I’ve had about a dozen serious relationships in my life (and am atheist), and exactly one of those women was a non-believer.  One.  If I were to actually find a non-believer woman who was even mildly tolerable (which you’re not), I would absolutely be doing cartwheels of joy just for the opportunity to talk with her.

This very polite gentleman in the elevator may just have been smitten with you.  Or he could have just been trying to get in your pants.  But, let me tell you something.  You, and your “women’s intuition” have absolutely no clue which one it was, regardless of what this man was doing with his eyes, or eyebrows, or which direction his palms were facing, or any of the other ridiculous criteria I’ve heard so many women admit to paying attention to.

Finding a mate is really, really hard.  Really hard.  You have to ask a lot of women to get a few good opportunities at finding a match.  If men were to behave as you apparently think we should, waiting for the perfect non-elevator environment, we’d never have sex, or fall in love.  I’m sorry, but an “abstinence-only” life is not a reasonable sacrifice for men to make to appease your OCD obsession with dating etiquette.

Asking someone to your room is tough.  It takes courage to do.  It also hurts when you get turned down, so I’m sure this guy didn’t want to do it with other people around for fear of being humiliated, which in retrospect was a real possibility given your lack of any shred of empathy or civility.  And what’s the obsession with 4am?  Is there an approved time of day that men are supposed to know about, when it’s ok to ask someone for coffee?  If you’re even out at 4am, he’s probably thinking that you’re at least single, and not heading back to your room early to call your significant other,  which infinitely increases his chances.

Your comment about getting hit on at skeptics’ pub events was also laughable. News flash: that’s what most people use pubs for.  Drinking and flirting. That’s what they’re for.  If you want to converse with atheists in an environment sans flirting, don’t go to a pub, you flaming moron.  Skeptics Night at the Library would probably be more your style.

It’s sad that Chris Mooney played the classic liberal “I’m apologizing for merely having a penis” role.  (BTW, I’m a political liberal science-type, too ... I just haven’t acquiesced to the self-castration movement).  When men tolerate this absurd behavior from the fringe feminism movement, it simply encourages them.  Incidentally, I’m also very much in favor of women’s rights, and would vote for an equal rights amendment in a heartbeat.  I’d also love to work in an industry that wasn’t 80% men.  But, people like Watson are not for equal treatment for women.  They want to hold the rest of us to higher standards than they’re personally willing to be held to.  Standards like empathy, and sensitivity.

Jesus H.W. Christ, I wish I were gay sometimes.  (no replies from gay guys, either.  I know your life’s hard. it was a joke)

[ Edited: 23 July 2011 04:42 PM by n8r0n ]
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Posted: 23 July 2011 04:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]
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I’d also like to draw another comparison to this situation.  At the risk of offending gay people, since the left-leaning skeptic community seems to be drunk on PC kool-aid, I think there are some real similarities between this situation, and gay pair bonding.  (NOTE: I didn’t say that they are the same, just that there are similarities).

I’m sure many women would respond to my previous post with some variation on the argument that I just don’t know what it’s like to be a woman.  Very true.  You don’t know what it’s like to be a man, so why don’t we just drop that ridiculous point?

I actually do think that for some people, such as myself, trying to mate within the non-believer community is a bit like homosexual mating.  I’m heterosexual, and have found that many women have a strong need in a relationship to be “respected” by their mates.  Fair enough.  The problem for me is that I have a real hard time respecting someone who’s religious.  I know apologists like Chris Mooney will be aghast, but I happen to believe that if you think there’s a god, even remotely resembling what’s described by most religions, then you’re nuts.  You have a serious reality deficiency.  So, that pretty much means I’m going to need to find a non-believer woman.

Let’s say that gays represent about 10% of the population.  That’s probably not too far off the number of non-believing women (which incidentally is lower than the number of non-believing men, by a statistically significant margin).  So, while it is true that I can find mere sexual partners in about 45% of the world’s population, the numbers for reasonable matches is far fewer.  And, somewhat similar to gays, part of the problem is that not all of the potential matches are “out of the closet”.  I’m sure there are plenty of women I’ve met that are atheists, who just weren’t open about it.

Long story short, if you’re an atheist male, you’ve got a harder time finding a mate than the religious hetero masses.  So, you’re going to have to be a bit more willing to take risks and be proactive, to find your soul-mate (like Mr. Elevator did)

And I do know what it feels like to have unwanted advances.  I get hit on by men all the time at the gym.  And I always, always, always take it as a compliment and politely deflect their advances.  Because I know how tough it is for them to find a match.  I don’t lash out at them, saying “hey Homo, I’m trying to work in a few reps on my glutes here, and you’re busy objectifying me”.  I feel grateful for the compliment implied in their advances, and see the glass as half full.

Now, I admit that this comparison doesn’t include the full similarity to the heterosexual experience, in the sense that women may be sensitive specifically because of the issue of sexual assault.  I will note, however, that heterosexual men actually do know what that’s like, as many hetero boys get molested by men when they’re young (often, by men wearing dresses ... and crucifixes).  Yes, that risk for men does drop significantly once we reach physical maturity, and can defend ourselves better against physical advances.

But, you can’t pull out the “Rape Card” every time you get propositioned, ladies.  The infamous elevator incident included no reasonable indication of looming assault.  If that’s really how you feel, then you have a condition that needs psychiatric rehabilitation.  The majority of men (non-believers especially, statistics show) are not rapists, and are revolted by the thought of sexual violence against women.  We don’t deserve to be treated like we’re all sex offenders.

[ Edited: 23 July 2011 04:29 PM by n8r0n ]
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Posted: 23 July 2011 04:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]
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deidzoeb - 23 July 2011 11:39 AM

I don’t find it hard to believe that she gets mistreated, disrespected or hit on at conferences. I didn’t think the elevator incident was an egregious example of that though.

Yeah.  Well, I guess she had the impression that there might be some danger.  But, I think it was more like, the one memorable thing that happened that day.

Although, it’s sort of hard to quantify why one does or doesn’t feel threatened.  It’s not 100% one way or the other (contra omniomi).  It’s like, by default, a university-educated guy has about 4% chance of being a multiple rapist*, and then you could use a Bayesian approach to decide on your risk in a particular situation.

*: This comes from a 2002 Harvard study, “Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending among Undetected Rapists.” (n=1882, male university students)
http://www.innovations.harvard.edu/cache/documents/1348/134851.pdf
Sorry to inject this somewhat depressing note.

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Posted: 23 July 2011 04:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 88 ]
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I think it would be epically generous to suggest that women are using Bayesian statistics when generating responses to such situations.  (or maybe wishful thinking smile  )

It’s like free market fundamentalist economists who assert that the masses conduct these intricate cost benefit analyses when performing “price discovery” in markets.

As Mooney has discussed in previous podcasts, people (men and women) are emotional beings, who formulate responses based on emotion, then search for justification based on reason.  Obviously, some present company excluded.

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Posted: 23 July 2011 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 89 ]
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The other outrageous hypocrisy in Watson’s behaviour, that I haven’t yet seen discussed, is how incredibly insensitive of her it was to even use this personal example at all.

There is no reason she couldn’t have made up an equivalent hypothetical scenario to illustrate her point about not hitting on women.  She drew from a personal experience, though.

Did she use the guy’s name?  No.  Chances are, though, some other people who were out late with them probably figured out who she was talking about.  Not to mention, that it’s almost guaranteed that the guy who asked her to coffee himself, has probably heard about this whole incident (Watson making an example of him).

As I said before, getting turned down sucks.  It totally knocks the wind out of you.  Add to that, for this guy, that thousands upon thousands of people are now critiquing his “game”.  Whether they all know it’s him is irrelevant.  He knows!

My (non-existent) god!  This guy might never be able to ask anyone out again!  If there’s any possible way to turn someone gay, this has got to be it smile

Just another example of how ludicrous it is for Watson to lecture men about how they just need to be a little more sensitive to what the opposite sex is feeling.

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Posted: 23 July 2011 05:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 90 ]
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n8r0n - 23 July 2011 05:03 PM

The other outrageous hypocrisy in Watson’s behaviour, that I haven’t yet seen discussed, is how incredibly insensitive of her it was to even use this personal example at all.

There is no reason she couldn’t have made up an equivalent hypothetical scenario to illustrate her point about not hitting on women.  She drew from a personal experience, though.

Did she use the guy’s name?  No.  Chances are, though, some other people who were out late with them probably figured out who she was talking about.  Not to mention, that it’s almost guaranteed that the guy who asked her to coffee himself, has probably heard about this whole incident (Watson making an example of him).

As I said before, getting turned down sucks.  It totally knocks the wind out of you.  Add to that, for this guy, that thousands upon thousands of people are now critiquing his “game”.  Whether they all know it’s him is irrelevant.  He knows!

My (non-existent) god!  This guy might never be able to ask anyone out again!  If there’s any possible way to turn someone gay, this has got to be it smile

Just another example of how ludicrous it is for Watson to lecture men about how they just need to be a little more sensitive to what the opposite sex is feeling.

So NOW you are criticizing Rebecca because she refuses to play the passive/aggressive game? Because she didn’t use a hypothetical situation instead of a real one? You are more concerned about the feelings of an anonymous man that the fact she felt threatened in an elevator?? I’m beginning to think YOU are the elevator guy…and you STILL don’t get it.

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