Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

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Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#1  Postby Erin » Jul 06, 2011 2:17 am

Rebecca Watson of Skepchick related a story in a vlog about how a man followed her alone into an elevator at 4 a.m. and asked her to his room "for coffee," and explained how uncomfortable that made her.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKHwduG1Frk[/youtube]

The anecdote in question starts around 4:30.

Richard Dawkins apparently doesn't think she had any right to complain because other women have it worse. His response:

Dear Muslima

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and . . . yawn . . . don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.

Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so . . .

And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.

Richard


:doh:

Watson's blog about it.

PZ Myers responds.

Have any of the women here who've been to atheist conferences/meet-ups experienced the type of behavior Watson refers to in the blog linked above? I'd be curious to hear your stories.

Edited because "Watkins" and "Watson" are not the same thing.
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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#2  Postby murshid » Jul 06, 2011 4:19 am

I agree with PZ Myers here.
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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#3  Postby Charlou » Jul 06, 2011 5:16 am

The level of sarcasm sounds about right, but the substance of the comments? I was genuinely surprised to learn they were from Richard Dawkins.

PZ Myers' response gets my thumbs up too.
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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#4  Postby quixotecoyote » Jul 06, 2011 5:34 am

PZ Myer's about the only one to get a thumbs up, however. Dawkins, Watson, and most of the people on the sidelines are fairly worked up and intentionally or unintentionally misrepresenting each other's views past the point of reasonable conversation (or just being weird).

Sampling:

Dawkins implies that we should be viewing this in comparison to Islamic repression and says that he sees no wrong behaviors in the original story. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011 ... nt-4309418

McCreight declares Dawkins blinded by male privilege and implies that we could be viewing the elevator conversation similarly to racial and sexist slurs. http://www.blaghag.com/2011/07/richard- ... ge-is.html

Rebecca goes with a similar approach: "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! http://skepchick.org/2011/07/the-privilege-delusion/

-----------
The whole things a tempest in a teapot, as the initial video by Rebecca wasn't bad, but the reactions and counter-reactions show a lot of people at their worst.
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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#5  Postby Charlou » Jul 06, 2011 5:42 am

I read Richard Dawkins' response that PZ Myers linked to ( http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011 ... nt-4309418 ) ...

A few thoughts ...

A woman may feel trapped within the confines of an elevator simply because the man is bigger/stronger and physically capable of preventing her from pressing a button and getting off.

The assumption that the man may have ill intentions simply because he's male is perhaps an insult to men, particularly to an innocent man with only friendly intentions.

Some men do have ill intentions and do overpower women to carry their ill intentions out.

Many women are very aware of this, either through anecdote or personal experience, or both. Many women are wary because of this.

It's a pragmatic position to be defensive. Pragmatic. Not morally right or wrong, just a practical response to what one knows about reality.

I wonder if the man had looked like a middle eastern, possibly muslim, man, whether this woman's concerns would have been treated less dismissively by Richard Dawkins.
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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#6  Postby 95Theses » Jul 06, 2011 6:11 am

Dunno

Richard clearly wasn't being very sensitive but nonetheless I don't understand the hysteria.

He didn't try and touch her, he apparently politely asked if she wanted to come back for a coffee and she said no. So he left. Her problem seems to be that she finds it creepy and that he was 'sexualising her' FFS he didn't even ask her if she wanted to come back for a shag!

What she is saying is 'Never hit on me, even obliquely because it annoys me' - so what? every bloke has to stand back and never even gently try and hit on her even if they take no for an answer and leave immediately? Which means that when she wants to hit on someone she is going to be hitting on them with no idea if they are up for it or not because they are being completely careful to not in any way show they are attracted to her, so She will be doing the exact same thing the guy here did.

The guy probably misread the situation and if it was 4am was probably a bit drunk which might explain why he misread it. When it became apparent she didn't want to come back for coffee he didn't push the matter, he didn't behave innapropriately, he just left probably feeling a bit embarrassed.


She needs to grow a thicker skin.
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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#7  Postby talkietoaster » Jul 06, 2011 7:37 am

I really don't understand the problem here. What I read of Richard Dawkins first post was just illustrating that fact what the women was complain or calling creepy is nothing in comparison to islamic oppression of women, I pretty much again with that. I think the problem is Richard just got annoyed with someone making more of a situation then it was. It was a case of Fancy a chat and some coffee at my place, No thank you. All done and dusted, but trust any feminist to jump on the back of a guy stating a opinion LoL. *waits for it*
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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#8  Postby Charlou » Jul 06, 2011 8:22 am

Watching Rebecca Watson's video (this one), I note that she preambles with a few comments about women and atheism, setting up the gender divide from the outset, and a comment about sexualisation of women, and introduces the term misogyny (hatred of women) in relation to the sexism she thinks exists among atheists ... then proceeds to tell the story about the guy in the elevator as if it demonstrates her point ...


From that, my impression of Watson is of a woman who has taken on the feminist/divisive (us and them) approach to humanism I don't subscribe to.

I apply to sexism Morgan Freeman's approach to racism ...

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeixtYS-P3s[/youtube]

This is not to say it should literally not be discussed, but a reference to the "gossip effect", which perpetuates disharmony among people over a divide that exists only in words and deeds.

Richard Dawkins and Rebecca Watson, I'm Charmaine Louise. I'd say hello in an elevator if I recognised you ... Might even suggest a chat over coffee ... nothing sexist (or racist) in it.
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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#9  Postby Animavore » Jul 06, 2011 8:34 am

I had a similar experience when Gay John gave me a lift home from work one day when I was younger (I didn't know he was Gay John back then) and tried proposition me. I told him it wasn't going to happen. It was creepy, he was so forward - and old! -but it was nothing to go on an anti-homosexual rant about.
My friend, a Born Again, got picked up by him too (so did at least 6 others I know and he tried it with me again last month when I met him in the pub. I didn't even recognise it was him, I gave him some advice on his computer and my number if he needed help. Later I got some texts asking did I ever get a blow job off a man and he would 'rimm'[sic] me) and he over-reacted totally and was raging talking about calling the cops. I told him there was no point. It's not illegal to chat someone up.
Which is where the parallels with this story are. My friend thinks homosexuality is a sin and his views come straight off a Conservapedia page. He thinks gays are dangerous and potential psychopaths.
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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#10  Postby virphen » Jul 06, 2011 8:35 am

I'm rather bemused that her initial comments got any sort of response at all. Creepy guy hits on girl, girl says essentially "guys please don't do this shit, it's not cool". What on earth is wrong with that? A woman should have the right to say "this creeps me out, don't do it" or "this threatens me, don't do it". And men sure as held should listen.

And why on earth would the way muslim women be treated be remotely relevant? Dawkins' message is akin to telling a black man not to complain about racist treatment because he would have been a slave had he been born 200 years earlier, and his petty complaints just don't compare. It's crass and monumentally silly.
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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#11  Postby Animavore » Jul 06, 2011 8:37 am

[cont] (stupid PS3 and word limitation) He has to hate them and think the worst because of his worldview. This Watson girl has taken a similar stance with men.

EDIT: similar stance not 'same'.
Last edited by Animavore on Jul 06, 2011 9:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
With regard to heretics two points must be observed (heretic and Church).. On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death.

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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#12  Postby Animavore » Jul 06, 2011 8:59 am

And I'm not with PZ here at all.

However, the existence of greater crimes does not excuse lesser crimes, and no one has even tried to equate this incident to any of the horrors above. What these situations demand is an appropriate level of response: a man who beats a woman to death has clearly committed an immensely greater crime than a man who harrasses a woman in an elevator; let us fit the punishment to the crime. Islamic injustice demands a worldwide campaign of condemnation of the excesses and inhumanity of that religion.

Lesser crime? The guy in the elevator committed no crime. Unless making a tit of yourself is now a crime?
Last edited by Animavore on Jul 06, 2011 9:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
With regard to heretics two points must be observed (heretic and Church).. On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death.

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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#13  Postby talkietoaster » Jul 06, 2011 9:11 am

Animavore wrote:And I'm not with PZ here at all.

However, the existence of greater crimes does not excuse lesser crimes, and no one has even tried to equate this incident to any of the horrors above. What these situations demand is an appropriate level of response: a man who beats a woman to death has clearly committed an immensely greater crime than a man who harrasses a woman in an elevator/[u]; let us fit the punishment to the crime. Islamic injustice demands a worldwide campaign of condemnation of the excesses and inhumanity of that religion.

Lesser crime? The guy in the elevator committed [u]no crime. Unless making a tit of yourself is now a crime?


It is a crime if you did it infront of your mates, that would resort in your having to buy the drinks for the fail LoL.
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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#14  Postby Rachel Bronwyn » Jul 06, 2011 9:21 am

It certainly wasn't a crime. It made someone feel uncomfortable though and not unreasonably so. Telling someone "Worse shit happens so just shut up about it" when something so simple to remedy is making them uncomfortable is completely unfair. No one thinks Elevator Guy was going to rape someone. No one wants to see Elevator Guy thrown in jail. They just want him (and everyone) to know that what he did makes a lot of people uncomfortable and it would be preferable if he didn't repeat it.

Why is asking for such a simple courtesy a big deal? Why is it the job of the women who are being made to feel uncomfortable by these advances to just get over them?

It's incredibly frustrating being a female and trying to participate in this "community" when sexism is so prevalent and, instead of listening, what seems like the majority of men would rather band together in their defensiveness and accuse women of being unreasonable. It's hurtful. It divides the community.

What's particularly hilarious is a lot of men complain about there being too few women present at conventions. If you're going to tell them their feelings are illegitimate as oppsed to modifying a minor behaviour to make them feel more welcome, they're not going to show up or if they do, they'll not return.
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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#15  Postby Wilde » Jul 06, 2011 9:29 am

I don't think it's an indicator of viewing all men as potential psychopaths (or something similar) to complain about being hit on in creepy circumstances - especially after giving a talk about these matters the same day.
And I do rather think that PZ is using the word "crime" figuratively here, Ani.

I definitely sympathise with Team Watson/Myers/McCreight here.
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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#16  Postby Charlou » Jul 06, 2011 9:31 am

Animavore wrote:And I'm not with PZ here at all.

However, the existence of greater crimes does not excuse lesser crimes, and no one has even tried to equate this incident to any of the horrors above. What these situations demand is an appropriate level of response: a man who beats a woman to death has clearly committed an immensely greater crime than a man who harrasses a woman in an elevator; let us fit the punishment to the crime. Islamic injustice demands a worldwide campaign of condemnation of the excesses and inhumanity of that religion.

Lesser crime? The guy in the elevator committed no crime. Unless making a tit of yourself is now a crime?


Yep, I've not even heard any evidence of harrassment in this case.

With 'lesser crimes', PZ Myers is talking about social faux pas? That's how I read it.
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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#17  Postby Animavore » Jul 06, 2011 9:33 am

Well. Ok. It's not nice being leered at and propositioned. Not nice at all. I was too quick to jump on the male side. My foresight was lacking.

I still think this has been blown out of proportion. And Dawkins comments are over the top.
With regard to heretics two points must be observed (heretic and Church).. On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death.

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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#18  Postby rJD » Jul 06, 2011 9:33 am

Dawkins dropped a bollock here, another example of his tendency to be "tone deaf". Watson was perfectly justified to say that being approached by a stranger in a lift at 4am was unsettling, and asking people to be a bit more sensitive, which is all she did. For Dawkins to mock her the way he did was totally unnecessary and out of proportion to what she'd actually said, and I don't blame Watson for being pissed off with it, and with him, and reacting to it.
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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#19  Postby MattHunX » Jul 06, 2011 9:36 am

I've already seen this on Pharyngula and from Matt Dillahunty.

Some folks obviously cannot detect SARCASM! :nono:

Dawkins might as well have just posted his take on it in the Onion.

He even explained in a response that his reply was meant sarcastically. Comparing this woman's experience to the situation of women in muslim countries, and in effect, stating quite correctly that this woman's got nothing to complain about.

What happened to her pales in comparison to the situation of muslim women.

That said, it isn't right to ignore the smaller issues, and focus only on the big ones, but seriously!? She's complaining about a harmless invitation that she could turn down with mere words, when other women are getting battery acid in their faces, aren't allowed to drive and are being abused by their husband while sharia courts are totally fine with it.


A word to the apparently unwise, to her: Quit crying about some non-event! It was practically harmless flirting, as far as it went. She was able to avoid "the situation" with mere words.

And honestly, what does she expect to happen in a bar, at 4:00am, with potentially drunk and/or potentially sexually aroused individuals? A little naive, I feel. :nono: Chances are, if not here, than some other woman might have taken the guy up on his offer, to have some more fun. :dunno: She's just not that kind of woman. Doesn't mean she had anything serious to complain about, though.
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Re: Atheism and Feminism (or, Watson v. Dawkins)

#20  Postby Charlou » Jul 06, 2011 9:39 am

Rachel Bronwyn wrote:It certainly wasn't a crime. It made someone feel uncomfortable though and not unreasonably so. Telling someone "Worse shit happens so just shut up about it" when something so simple to remedy is making them uncomfortable is completely unfair. No one thinks Elevator Guy was going to rape someone. No one wants to see Elevator Guy thrown in jail. They just want him (and everyone) to know that what he did makes a lot of people uncomfortable and it would be preferable if he didn't repeat it.

Why is asking for such a simple courtesy a big deal? Why is it the job of the women who are being made to feel uncomfortable by these advances to just get over them?

It's incredibly frustrating being a female and trying to participate in this "community" when sexism is so prevalent and, instead of listening, what seems like the majority of men would rather band together in their defensiveness and accuse women of being unreasonable. It's hurtful. It divides the community.

What's particularly hilarious is a lot of men complain about there being too few women present at conventions. If you're going to tell them their feelings are illegitimate as oppsed to modifying a minor behaviour to make them feel more welcome, they're not going to show up or if they do, they'll not return.


She's coming from a presumption of sexualisation, therefore fear, just because he ("elevator guy") is male, so isn't the sexism on her part?

And "community" ... what does that mean in this context?
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