The Inhuman Response to Rebecca Watson

Next time you’re in an elevator, don’t stare at the other passengers—especially if they’re strangers. Even if you think you’ve noticed some spark of connection and that your unblinking gaze conveys only warmth and friendship, don’t stare at them. However you intend it, it will come across as creepy and possibly threatening. It’s just not cool.

That doesn’t sound very inflammatory, does it?

Ever since Rebecca Watson of Skepchick and the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe spoke about being accosted in an elevator, she has been showered with repulsive reactions, some of the worst of which came from the evolutionary biologist and atheist icon Richard Dawkins. Fortunately, posts at Pharyngula, Bad Astronomer, Shakesville, Pandagon, Greg Laden’s Blog, Bug Girl’s Blog and countless other sites have risen to her defense, and Rebecca has of course been more than capable of taking care of herself, too. What’s clear, beyond the fact that Rebecca’s remarks brought out a lot of people’s unrecognized misogyny and anti-feminism, is that most of them seem not to understand her point, despite Rebecca and others having explained it repeatedly. However redundantly, I thought I would take a crack at it, too.

For the purpose of my explanation, I’m going to leave out sex and male-female dynamics. Not because those specifics are irrelevant—they are obviously central to the experiences of Rebecca and many other women in elevators and elsewhere—but because they seem to be red flags distracting her critics from the deeper principle involved.

The principle is: be sensitive to others’ feelings and don’t make them pointlessly uncomfortable. Simple human decency, not some special consideration that some of us should show to the rest of us. Consider the advice with which I started this post. The idea of not staring at strangers in elevators is something that all of us learn or intuit as part of our normal social adjustment. We learn that staring at strangers is a generally bad idea, and that people may be extra disturbed by such attentions in closed confines.

So the natural reaction that socially adjusted people would have to my advice not to stare would be a nod or shrug of acceptance. Someone who instead responded by shouting “Why shouldn’t I be able to stare at them? I’m not hurting anybody!” likely wouldn’t come across as merely weird; he’d come across as a little psychotic.

Yet that was the overreaction that some people had to Rebecca’s remarks. She didn’t denounce all men as monsters. She didn’t say men should never approach women. She didn’t say the act was criminal. She made the unexceptionable point that most women would find it creepy to be propositioned, even discreetly, by a stranger in an elevator at 4 a.m., so men shouldn’t do it. Somehow, her message is being misinterpreted as unreasonable or anti-male.

Broadly speaking, the critics’ arguments seem to fall into categories. The first is that Rebecca’s expectations are unreasonable because it’s impossible for men to know whether their attentions might be welcome unless they try, and then it’s too late. They seem to want some set of absolute or fail-safe guidelines that will absolve them of blame for acting on their attractions.

Sorry, but such rules don’t exist for any human relationships. You can’t reduce personal interactions to a set of robotic commands (“IF A= FEMALE AND LOC=ELEVATOR GO TO 23…”) in the absence of feedback about the feelings of other people. It’s pathologically narcissistic to treat people like machines, to act as though their feelings and autonomy don’t exist or matter. Good social rules of thumb can steer you away from some kinds of trouble but they are always incomplete. Social cues offer all the important refinements, and for the most part, people are exquisitely good at picking up on others’ feelings if they want to be.

Therein lies the problem. Many men who don’t think of themselves as misogynists have a blind spot: they become obtuse about women’s feelings that might conflict with their own desires. The rancor they’re directing at Rebecca now suggests they don’t like being called on that flaw. Moreover, they’re making a hypocritical argument—accusing Rebecca of laying down some inflexible, inhuman rule when they’re the ones shutting out the feelings of the women with whom they presumably want to strike up a relationship. Guys, if you’re looking for advice about how to meet women, Rebecca just gave you some: stop creeping them out in elevators. Say thank you.

(A few of Rebecca’s critics, including some women, have said she is wrong to be generalizing and that she isn’t entitled to speak for all women. No kidding. Still, from my conversations, I think it’s disingenuous to argue that Rebecca’s feelings about being approached in an elevator at night don’t reflect those of most women—certainly enough to justify the rule of thumb. If anybody wants to pull together an empirical case to the contrary, knock yourself out. And if you happen to find yourself in an elevator with an appealing stranger who’s drooling for your attentions, have fun. But most of the time, Rebecca’s advice holds.)

Some people have also protested that Rebecca’s position penalizes innocent men who are socially awkward or inexperienced, and consequently poor at picking up on women’s feelings. Again, she didn’t accuse the guy who bothered her in the elevator of committing a crime; he disturbed and offended her. Yes, people are sometimes going to make mistakes—all the more reason to thank Rebecca for the heads-up about the wrong way to introduce yourself. It’s not doing the socially maladroit any favors to encourage them to blunder through encounters inattentive to others’ feelings.

The other strain of criticism of Rebecca’s stance seems to be a quasi-libertarian argument that, especially at a free-thinking venue like a skeptics and atheists conference, people should be able to speak candidly, clash as they will and not worry about bruised sensibilities along the way because they simply exchanged words. But even if we ignore all the other reasons why one should still care about others’ feelings, how is being purposefully blind to women’s feelings not counterproductive to these men’s goal of striking up a relationship with them?

Are there times when one shouldn’t be afraid to offend others? Of course. Rosa Parks offended white people when she sat in the front of the bus. Married gay couples apparently offend plenty of straight conservatives who think they own the term “marriage.” They are standing up for rights that are more important that the hurt feelings of people aligned with an injustice. Sometimes any of us may need to set a principle ahead of others’ discomfort; if we’re then judged harshly, so be it. But what exactly is the principle that men hitting on women indiscriminately are defending: that their desire for sex trumps women’s rights to be left alone?

Again, the fundamental idea—”be sensitive to others’ feelings and don’t make them pointlessly uncomfortable”—is a matter of simple decency, not restricted to dating advice. Rebecca was right in her explanations to highlight that for many women, these kinds of clumsy advances by men are fraught with entirely realistic worries about violence, rape, and worse. Men owe it to themselves to avoid stupid misbehaviors that might lump them in anybody’s eyes with predators. But this isn’t a matter of how men should treat women, or of how people of any group should treat those of another. Individuals need to recognize and respect the feelings of other individuals. Anything less is inhuman.

Updates (added at various times): The web is full of good commentary on this subject, but here are a few links that I find particularly relevant or entertaining:

Rebecca Watson herself, writing about The Privilege Delusion and Frequently Answered Questions. (Honestly, everybody attributing certain attitudes and actions to her ought to check out these.)

And (via Pharyngula) Rebecca’s speech for the Center for Inquiry where she supposedly savaged a woman who had disagreed with her. As PZ Myers writes, she in fact discusses that blog post “civilly and without victimization.”

Lindsay Beyerstein’s concise and cutting Attention, Space Cadets: Do Not Proposition Women in Elevators.

The evergreen humorous wonder of Derailing for Dummies: Making Discrimination Easier.

Jennifer Ouellette’s brilliant Is It Cold in Here?, which not only all the right intelligent points about this Elevator Guy incident but also connects the attitudes Rebecca is encountering to ones that discourage women from staying engaged with scientific and engineering careers.

And this, just for fun: Gynofascists are Invading the Manosphere, which seems to capture the rhetoric of many of those commenting in opposition to Rebecca’s point.

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351 Responses to The Inhuman Response to Rebecca Watson

  1. jeff wode says:

    It is possible to agree with a person’s position on Relgion and Politics and yet take an instant dislike to that person. That has happened to me on a few occasions most notably with Bill Maher. It also happened with Rebbeca Watson. I met her a few years ago and disliked her immensely. This latest fiasco has done nothing to change my opinion of her, I find her shallow self important & bitter.
    What Dawkins said was completely valid, and if I ever find myself in a room with Ms Watson again I will be delighted to reiterate those opinions, although I will make sure to have witnesses around me at at the time for fear of being sued for attempted rape.

    • Normal Variation says:

      Irrational fear, Jeff ! If you listened to her statement on her vlog you would know she simply politely declined the proposition and used the opportunity to thank/praise all the other atheist conference guys who respected her desire not to be approached in that way, as she’d explained at length in her presentation. It makes a reader wonder whether you have conflated other pre-existing fears and experiences with this particular incident & person. which by the way is often why people have an immediate dislike –he or she threatens their insecurities and/or reminds them of someone else who they had a bad experience with. Since you offer no reasons , it’s hard for your emotional reaction to have any influence on others.

      • Normal Variation says:

        If it was “completely valid” for Dawkins to ridicule an atheist skeptical woman for mildly expressing how, when and where they prefer to be or not to be approached, how do you rationalize expressing so melodramatically to the atheist/skeptic community and other readers of John Rennie’s blog that you are afraid of being accused of rape(not to mention threatening premptive action). By Dawkins’ logic, your fear, trepidation, and suffering should be ridiculed while other men are being jailed in China just for making art or (trying to think of a female-instigated crime) placed under house arrest & deprived of their passport after being accused of rape , etc.
        I think his ridicule and logic are invalid and I care about your feelings even though men all around the world are losing limbs in wars and being falsely imprisoned. Not more, maybe not even as much–but in a culturally & geographically close example like yours & RWs, it is actually immediately possible for me to examine my own behavior & attitudes and adjust them in a similar situation to attempt change with far more ease than I can effect change for women in Yemen or the Sudan, where I can only contribute to concerted action at a distance.

    • John Rennie says:

      You’re certainly entitled to any opinion you want of Rebecca, but for anybody so say at this point that what Dawkins wrote was “completely valid” seems both absurd and bullheaded in its denial of their needless offensiveness. Hold any opinions that you want, but you define yourself by them.

      • Jeff Wode says:

        I stand by my opinions both of Ms Watson & Dawkins comments. Weather or not you find them to be absurd or offensive is of little interest to me. I only speak as I find, and on the occasion I met Ms Watson and having seen and heard her many times subsequently I find her Distasteful egosentric and bitter, those are my honest feelings on the woman and that is that. Also I am not a Dawkins sycophant, I admire a great deal of his work and what he has achieved for Athiesm in general, however I have not always agreed with him or the way he has gone about doing things. However on this point I do agree with him 100% , and I really hope Ms Watson takes some time out to concider the merits of his rebuke, for the sake of her finances if nothing else, as I have it on very good authority that those life sized Diamond encrusted pedestals she would need to stand on at public appearances cost a fortune.

        • Luna says:

          “I find it creepy when a strange guy tries to pick me up in an elevator at 4am, please don’t do that.” — this in your mind translates to wanting to be on a diamond-encrusted pedestal????

          Heavens forfend that women should be able to say, however mildly, that they would prefer not to be approached in a given manner… yikes.

          • Eric Jones says:

            [Eric, I’m editing your comment in keeping with my loosely observed and erratically enforced “keep things civil” rule. You’re welcome to contribute here but please tone down the profanity and personal insults. No, I haven’t edited everybody else who swore—you get to be my reminder to others. If it’s any consolation, I’ve left your spelling alone.

            Folks, in Eric’s message below, please realize that the words in all caps are my edits, not Eric’s original words. You can probably guess what he had in mind, though. —Rennie]

            how about KISS you, despite what you think… you cant eliminate, and shouldnt want to, all discomfort and displeasure in the world… you stupid ppl who want only the good absent the “bad” that makes it possible makes me sick. you make me uncomfortable. is it really such a shock that other ppl value differntly than you do?? lesbians in pant suits, GENTLEMEN like Rebbecca’s husband, and ugly LADIES with pink highlights make me uncomfortable… but I dnt wish them into the cornfield. reality: you are a weak-minded bigot… and there are stronger and weaker creatures… we have got a long way to go when lions stil try to eat gazelles, haha lets just make everybody exactly the same, do away with all the ruff edges and any differences and maybe I wont have to look at ugly ppl with pink highlights

          • John Rennie says:

            Eric, you are swinging away at strawmen left and right here. Nobody here suggested (horrors!) eliminating all discomfort in the world; my post noted that sometimes making other people is unavoidable and necessary. That doesn’t mean we should be endlessly abrasive to everyone at all times. Similarly, nobody here is “wishing into the cornfield” those whom they dislike or disagree with. They’re expressing a disagreement with them and laying out reasons why they should change.

            Anybody who embraces the dog-eat-dogma philosophy you seem to have ought to thrive on that. Instead, you’re whining and attacking enemies who don’t exist. You’re embarrassing the other gazelles.

          • Anonymous Internet Commenter says:

            Doesn’t the main thrust of your argument suggest that maybe people should be able to comment on things that make them uncomfortable?

            If not, maybe you are the person who needs to tough it out and not get quite so bent when people present beliefs that contradict yours. Shouting down arguments you disagree with makes it sound an awful lot like you want to, “make everybody exactly the same, do away with all the ruff edges”, eh?

        • John Rennie says:

          Way to double-down, Jeff.

      • David Jones says:

        but for anybody so say at this point that what Dawkins wrote was “completely valid”

        I’ll say it.

        • Luna says:

          You are also apparently deeply committed to the concept that a woman should not be allowed to publicly criticise male behaviour that you personally seem to approve of. OBviously it’s not the male behaviour that’s the problem, it’s the female “sensitivity” and “overreaction” that’s the problem, amirite?

          RW statements were straightforward, and fairly mild. Dawkins’s statements in return were a bit of OTT “how dare you complain” dismissiveness.

          Maybe you should try taking on board the criticism instead of blowing off the situation based solely on your own feelings — try to understand that this is not a good way to relate to women, or to make an environment where many women are comfortable. Or shall we just take it that you don’t care so much about that?

          • David Jones says:

            You are also apparently deeply committed to the concept that a woman should not be allowed to publicly criticise male behaviour

            I’m nothing of the sort. Watson’s clearly free to say whatever she wants.

            it’s the female “sensitivity” and “overreaction” that’s the problem

            In this case, yes. Watson overreacted.

            Or shall we just take it that you don’t care so much about that

            Who do you think you’re speaking on behalf of when you say ‘we’?

          • Luna says:

            “Watson’s clearly free to say whatever she wants. ” –And just get completely vitriolic reactions and vilification for it, obviously. Why no, that isn’t trying to keep her from saying things like this in the future at all.

            1. RW posted a short, mild, “please don’t do this” as part of a wider video.
            2. McGraw characterised this as “man-hating” and “anti-sex” (would you like to discuss overreaction, here?).
            3. RW called out this comment as an example of misogynistic rhetoric being internalised by people in the feminist/skeptic community, and pointed out how this can make women with concerns about their security feel that they are not supported.
            4. RD wades in with the quite OTT “Dear Muslima” letter, with the clear message being conveyed via sarcasm that RW cannot legitimately complain. (Note that it is often problematic when a person who is not a member of a group decides whether or not a group concern is legitimate.)
            5. RW goes, WTF?
            6. The internet wades in with accusations of misogyny flying in both directions.

            …And here you are claiming that RW overreacted. Hmmm.

            Who do you think you’re speaking on behalf of when you say ‘we’? –Me and the other few hundred women scattered around the skeptics blogs who are all saying the same thing. Interesting how this has escaped your attention.

            …Funny thing: back in the early years of feminism, it was a frequent experience that when women spoke up about their experience of [any given phenomenon], if what they were saying about that experience did not accord with what the male attitude at the time expected, they were widely met with “well, that’s just YOU” and other attempts to ensure that the stated experience was classed as an anomaly. It was only with the academic and semi-academic movements to collect and collate and quantify experiences that women were able to enforce perception that it wasn’t anomaly, it was the fact that common experiences were being deliberately isolated and discounted in order to legitimise an opposing view.

            It’s rather more subtle, but just as insidious, when this is done to women’s or minority voices in current discussions.

    • Doug1 says:

      To call Richard Dawkins’ satirical response to Rebecca Watson’s complaint about being invited back to a guy’s room for coffee in an elevator in a crowded hotel full of conference goers misogyny and even worse “inhuman” is utterly risible. His response was appropriate.

      Yeah the skeptic nerd’s pickup attempt was ham handed and hadn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding — not even any light banter first, awkward body language — but it was also completely non treatening to any woman not caught up in radical feminist rape hysteria.

      The “incident” was incredibly trivial, which was the point of Dawkins’ satire. Feminist high dudgeon over the trivial is not reasonable.

      People make other people uncomfortable. Men are made uncomfortable by other men, and women, all the time. Women scorn and emotionally cut men far more than the other way round, and hardly always for excellent reasons.

      The guy wasn’t trying to make her uncomfortable. He was trying to pick her up. It’s the social code of our society and of most societies that don’t exclusively have arranged marriages. Women get uncomfortable when men they aren’t quickly attracted to try to pick them up, and often reject such men in ways that are far more than just uncomfortable but in fact emotionally wounding. Such is life. Yeah women should try to do it in ways that aren’t so harsh and many do.

      Guys should have more of a clue as to who will and won’t be attracted to them, know that their second sentence at 4am in the morning in an elevator shouldn’t be “would you like to come to my room for “coffee””, and so on.

      But it’s not occasion for legitimate feminist high dudgeon when the don’t. Not is it misogyny or anything close to point these things out to feminist extremists.

      Dawkins was right and the feminists making a mountain out of this mole hill are wrong.

      It’s simpl

      • David Jones says:

        know that their second sentence at 4am in the morning in an elevator shouldn’t be “would you like to come to my room for “coffee””

        Oh I don’t know. It’s sometimes worth a try.

      • Steve says:

        Agreed on that point. Why are there so many bloggers and reputable skeptics pointing out Dawkins’s response was anything but risible or facetious? Just because a fellow skeptic who also happens to be a feminist(utterly redundant these days) had her feelings hurt?

  2. Greg says:

    I’ve struggled with this topic.

    On the one hand, I see the words as just words. Phrased as politely as possible given the content, but socially obtuse. My gut reaction is that if Rebecca Watson sees every man as a potential rapist, she is bigoted against males. After all, if someone said they felt intimidated because a black person talked to them, you would call them racist. The vast majority of guys are not rapists and it is unfair to label them as such.

    On the other hand, if someone randomly launched into a racist or sexist diatribe, I would label that person as acting wrongly. Yet, again they are just words.

    How can I reconcile these positions?

    be sensitive to others’ feelings and don’t make them pointlessly uncomfortable

    Sounds good. But this case is complicated because it wasn’t completely pointless. For one thing, the guy was interested in bringing Rebecca to his room. And there was the possibility that Rebecca was interested in that. I’m not sure it’s a failure of empathy. After all, many guys would like to be propositioned in an elevator. Of course, someone more adept at reading social situations would have realized that the chances that Rebecca would be interested in the offer was practically zero. In which case the behavior was unethical. But I believe that the behavior was more clueless than unethical.

    The only way I see this “pick-up” possibly working is if the guy was the star speaker of the conference, was constantly surrounded by fans and was consistently on Rebecca’s radar for a couple of days. Then – maybe – the proposition would not have been entirely pointless, and perhaps justifiable.

    • John Rennie says:

      In any case, if Elevator Guy had been sensitive to Rebecca’s feelings (about which it sounds like there were abundant clues), it would have been obvious to him that propositioning her would be pointless because she wanted to go to sleep and didn’t like being hit on by stranger in general. The proposition could only irritate her, which would be contrary to Elevator Guy’s goal—unless he didn’t care about her feelings, which would bring us back to him not respecting her as a person.

      • Greg says:

        I agree there were likely abundant clues. If the guy was socially savvy, and he realized that the question was almost certain to annoy or intimidate then his behavior was wrong.

        But as a geeky guy myself, I have some empathy for the man. And I’m predisposed to believe that he is simply awkward. After all, he did show some evidence of thinking of things from her perspective (eg. “Don’t take this the wrong way”, letting her know that he admired her intellect)

        Learning to interact with women was very difficult for me. Advice from my parents was practically nonexistent – my dad would say “women are a mystery” and my mom was very sex-negative. She would basically get very angry and remind me that having premarital sex meant an eternity in Hell. So I had little guidance from my parents and my close friends were as clueless as I. That meant taking advice from the environment – advice that is often inconsistent. People get a variety of messages such as:

        “Men and women are the same. As a feminist, I’m offended by the idea that women aren’t supposed to like sex.”

        “Nice guys are manipulative jerks, because they think that being kind and friendly will eventually lead to a relationship. And when it doesn’t, they get angry. Be direct about your intentions.”

        “I hate when guys hit on me at the gym. I go there to work out – not to meet guys and it really creeps me out.” (The same basic idea is often expressed for all sorts of environments – work, the mall, co-ed sports, even nightclubs)

        Basically, if you followed everyone’s advice you would not do anything at all because it seems that everything has the potential to offend somebody. Meanwhile there is an undertone is society that men are only of value if they can attract women. So it feels like an impossible situation.

        The net result is that many men have to learn from experience. Some men probably have good mentors or role models, and the learning process might be quick. But for many, learning from experience means making mistakes. The unfortunate thing is that might involve hurting someone else’s feelings.

        Honestly, I think that in grade 8 health class, there should be a unit on how to meet women. Develop clear guidelines on how to interact, and show some videos modeling the behavior. Due to contradictory messages in society, many men are very confused.

        This confusion is one of the reason why “game” is so popular. Personally I don’t like some of the demeaning attitudes towards women seen in that community. Nor do I like the idea of guys using all sorts of rehearsed lines. But one idea that made a lot of sense to me was the idea that meeting women involved 3 consecutive stages: creating attraction, building comfort, seduction. That is the sort of thing that should be taught generally. In this case, elevator guy skipped over the first two stages and tried to move straight to seduction. Learning a basic road map like attraction, comfort,seduction would have helped the man avoid his mistake. And it would have spared Rebecca her discomfort.

      • David Jones says:

        Except this wasn’t presented at the time by Watson as an issue of her likes and dislikes and her situation at the time; it’s been presented as a generalised injunction to all men on behalf of all women.

        If Watson, partying until 4, had indeed made her wishes clear to EG, to whom she didn’t speak, then that’s one thing. For her to claim that in all cases such behaviour between two people who aren’t her is slightly overreaching.

        On the subsequently raised issue of potential danger in elevators: well presumably that danger exists whether or not a man speaks to a woman. So to be sensitive all men should avoid elevators with all women, if there are just two of them. It’s a seriously arguable point but in this case people are dishonestly suggesting that there was an elevated threat, soo to speak, because EG spoke. That can’t be true.

        • Normal Variation says:

          DJ, it was presented as her personal wish. Did you watch the original video? In the blog post afterwards, which I hope you’d read, she recapped her & other women’s specific experience & reaction when trying to participate in the particular community of atheists & skeptic s, which is apparently largely male. She specifically namechecks one particular female atheist who has never been uncomfortable with her treatment & respects her experience! What reading about all this has made me conclude is that there are some very angry guys out there who identify with/consider themselves socially awkward but don’t want to hear/learn what their object of desire desires herself.

          • David Jones says:

            it was presented as her personal wish

            Which is why she chose to videoblog about it, bring it up at a conference lecture, and write on Skepchick about it…because it’s all only about her personal likes and dislikes.


            She’s arguing from her experience to a general conclusion. That much is clear from her subsequent comments.

            She quotes approvingly someone else’s comment:

            ‘Hitting on stranger in an elevator–creepy’

            Well, no, it isn’t, not for all people, always.

            And here she calls someone who disagrees with her misogynistic:


            (while rather hilariously assuming somebody to be a man just because they’re a Dr.)

            What reading about all this has made me conclude is that there are some very angry guys out there

            And some very angry women too, I’m sure you’ll agree.

          • Luna says:

            (while rather hilariously assuming somebody to be a man just because they’re a Dr.)

            That’s just a stupid statement to make. She lives and works in an environment full of women doctors, and I cannot help but think that this interpretation is merely the product of your imagination, specifically based around making RW appear clueless. The reality is much more straightforward: she assumed that twitter account was male because of the anti-feminist statements made. There are obviously anti-feminist women, but the balance of probability is such that most anti-feminist rhetoric comes from men.

  3. Scelidosaurus says:

    Little-d dave: I am pleased that you were able to say something positive. Good job for you! With the exception of surgeon, most of the careers you listed could be considered typically feminine professions (although it is true that men enter these fields as well).

    As for traveling because of hobbies: oh, you just have no idea. I have been to many places in Asia, Europe, North America, and South America because of my hobbies. I have yet to hit Africa, Australia, or Antarctica, but I hope to someday! It is kind of dumb to suggest women do not travel internationally for their passions.

    You suggest that women are not interested in sports, sci-fi, or geeky things. Has it occurred to you that this is partly because members of society – such as yourself – expect that, and therefore women are not introduced to these things when they are young? Or, in dreadful cases, are actively discouraged from enjoying those things? Or, in probably the most common cases, pick up that it is just somehow not proper to engage in ‘masculine’ activities? To me, the whole point of feminism is that someday we will not need to label activities as inherently masculine or feminine because they will be enjoyed equally by all.

    Pro tip: Romcoms, sitcoms, and actually most things you see on television or in the movies, are FICTION.

    Pro tip 2: If these truly represent your views on women, I suspect you have been in the company of too many shallow women. Much as there are shallow men, there are shallow women. BUT, there are interesting and well-rounded men out there, and there are interesting and well-rounded women.

    • dave says:

      when you say equal, i take that to mean equally talented, not a number count.

      if a womans hobby is TRAVEL itself then OF COURSE but you shouldnt dismiss my comment because you are an exception.

      your sports comment is exactly what i said. girls are discouraged by being given plastic dolls and pink things and TOLD thats what they like, as opposed to being introduced to the fun stuff. women n girls do see lots of the fun stuff as “for boys” and “ungirly”, thats my point exactly. but in your comment you accused me of somehow being part of the problem… know the thing about little boys wanting prams for christmas? whats you opinion on that? the point you make about things not being inherently male of female activites, thats the point i made about the watch. a watch is a watch. but then there needs to be a womans watch. not to stray from the subject but men are considered freaks if they are transvestites (wear the other sexs clothing which was illegal in lots of places). however women wear “mens” clothes everyday. basically men wear neutral clothes and women wear female “costumes” i think of them as.

      Pro tip??? little d dave???

      if you do not think for one second that the story LIFE (expectations,interactions and actions) that are portrayed in rom coms n chick flicks etc dont have a huge impact on the thought process and actions of young people in real life then you are just a matter of fact this is the only place where people get “advice” on the inter gender romantic sexual world which is not represented in real life at all(read gregs comment). people blame porn for creating fake expectations and misrepresenting real life, well this feminine rom com world that men have grown up watching has snipped their balls and made it impossible of them to see themselves as the prize. if women are encouraged to be big chested blonde bimbos then men are encouraged to whimpy, fake, feel unbeautiful,awkward teenagers who are ashamed of admitting and owning their desires as men who worship anyone they are attracted to sexually and feel they need to trick their way to having a love story with her. thats BULLSHIT

      most people are not well rounded, i agree. but at least men try to meet people and talk to people, women just dress up and sit there! rebecca talking about how she doesnt want to be hit on, what an asshole. on top of that im sure she did everything to look as a attractive as possible and then start telling a group how she doesnt want to be hit so “dont do the thing youre all definitely thinking about doing”.(even ,HIT ON , what a bullshit phrase.what it means is pursue what you desire, isnt that something women say they want-a man who knows what he wants and goes after it- anyway sounds like a self defence mechanism where if she goes to bed and no one likes her she gets to feel ok about it.then ONE guy talks to her and its international news. the really beautiful girls in the world are very nice when their not interested but the ones who most of the time feel average, theyre the ones who make a big deal out someone liking them , one way or the other…..

      and i only say positive things if they are true.

      • Cara says:

        but at least men try to meet people and talk to people, women just dress up and sit there! rebecca talking about how she doesnt want to be hit on, what an asshole. on top of that im sure she did everything to look as a attractive as possible and then start telling a group how she doesnt want to be hit so “dont do the thing youre all definitely thinking about doing”

        So, you’re deciding that she must have dressed up and sat silently, waiting to be hit on just for the joy of turning some guy down. Was this before or after SPEAKING ON A PANEL about not wanting to be hit on, and subsequently going to the bar to CONTINUE THE DISCUSSION?

        Fish in a barrel.

  4. Istvan says:

    Like anyone else who videotapes themselves rambling in front of a camera and posts the results on youtube, Rebecca Watson is a narcissistic nitwit. That said, I don’t think she did anything to deserve the snide comment by Dawkins or the scorn of his fans.

    I can’t imagine how her vlog mention of the incident in question could have conceivably been any more sober or fair. She didn’t blow anything out of proportion, and she didn’t make it sound like she was horribly traumatized.

    I agree with John. Rebecca was right.


  5. dave says:


    never said theyre werent LOTS of exceptions. how can you pretend to not know what im talking about in general though???

    • Luna says:

      When you make sweeping generalisations along the lines of “women never do anything interesting” and “women don’t like SF”, etc., why exactly don’t you think that people will take this as your actual belief, and why do you think it isn’t valid to point out all the very many instances where you are blatantly wrong?

      And dismissing the lives and actions of hundreds of thousands of women as being merely “exceptions” to some “in general”, is a blatant attempt to defend an invalid belief against contradictory evidence.

  6. Jake says:

    Rebecca just asked people who need to be asked to be aware of rape scenarios where someone might feel uncomfortable. She also said she doesn’t like being objectified (people placing no value on her sexual desire just their own) I think all of that is totally reasonable.

    I think attacking her for relating the incident and simply asking people not to do it is totally ridiculous

    • David Jones says:

      ‘She also said she doesn’t like being objectified (people placing no value on her sexual desire just their own) ‘

      What, the Rebecca Watson responsible for this?

      • Jake says:

        lust isn’t a sin if you respect peoples desires and wishes. Those a pictures of beautiful women not objects. They’re people who generously shared their sexuality for the moment of that photograph. You can look at them as long as you like, if they sexually inspire you, you can orgasm. But you’d do none of those things if you met them in person. So we give them kudos for being hot and sharing that in the moment of the photo but respect their personal space , desires and wishes in person. The distinction between a photo and a person is pretty obvious.

        • David Jones says:

          I’m pretty sure lust is a sin according to traditional religious doctrine. As I’m not religious I don’t have much truck with the notion anyhow.

          ‘The distinction between a photo and a person is pretty obvious.’

          I’m not the person who introduced into this nonsensical brouhaha the vague and contentious concept of ‘objectification’. But if you were the person who did you’d be pretty stupid to insist on a traditional feminist reading while at the same time pushing a calendar of naked women for profit.

          Remember: Watson being a woman doesn’t make here the touchstone for feminism.

          • Jake says:

            If your not religous why are you giving credence to a religous doctrine. Lust isn’t a sin, it’s just sexual attraction. To lust after someone even purely for their physical appearence isn’t degrading. It’s how we act towards other people that can be degrading and selfishly objectifying. If I lust after someone I want them to enjoy there sexuality by listening to what they want and appreciating their stated boundaries and if I transgress I naturally want to apologise. This whole thing is as simple as that.

          • Jake says:

            BTW I’m sex positive feminist. and I think Rebecca is too. Which means a respect for female desire and arousal at being desired. That includes respect and kudos for people in sexual images and an appreciation for them generously sharing their sexuality and giving pleasure.

      • Luna says:

        Are you aware that she’s made public statements to the effect of “I was stupid, even a few years ago, and I’m sorry for it”?

        People change their attitudes as they accumulate experience. At least many do….

        • David Jones says:

          Are you aware she’s still flogging it?

          • Luna says:

            Are you aware that the more recent calendars are all fully dressed, too?

            There is also a difference, which she herself talks about often, between “sexy, and fun for all involved” and “objectionable objectification which disregards the desires of the target.”

  7. tatiana says:

    I don’t find the guy’s attitude more creepy than it is just plain inconvenient, thoughtless and selfish, quiet frankly. This Rebecca caracter kind of over reacted, was over-deffensive. If the same happened to me, I’d just say no, don’t want to. If the guy insisted and wouldn’t take no for an answer, now, that would be really creepy!when I was a single woman, I used to try to pick up guys as much as they tried to pick me up. I’m not innocent, i’m an adult. I too used to get lonely, drunk (though, I’m not sure if the dude in question was drunk), needy and inconvenient myself. But, than again, that was just how she felt, it’s her opinion (even if a twisted one, claiming that anyone who’d try to pick her up in an elevator has to be a potential rapist). Ladies, listen: don’t cry rape, when it’s not the case. If you do so, YOU ARE THE ONE WHO’S MAKING RAPE VICTIMS LOOK RIDICULOUS!!! To be fair, I don’t know this woman’s life story, if she was raped before, if she’s traumatized or something. That would explain why she discribed the guy as creepy. However, in her video, she seemed like she was using just an example (some weird education method) to inform guys what is considered to be a sexist attitude, but, even so….a little over the top (and that’s just my opinion).

  8. Paul says:

    This is a non-issue. He hit on her, she said no. Then she made a big deal about it on the internet. Rebecca is not a very attracitive women; my guess is that she was delighted that finally she turned down some “creeper.” Baisically she said “look at me, I can get hit on by creeps too, and guess what I’m not deseperate. I can turn guys down. Just like you popular girls.”

    Men ask woman out sometiems they say no. The fact that so many atheists are arguing about this is distressing, and not very logical. But then again some femenists want women spelled womyn, and some athiests want to ban public Christmas trees. Just shows that we have our own zelots to deal with.

    • Normal Variation says:

      Paul, it doesn’t matter whether you or I or even the elevator guy thought she was attractive. She was convenient and he was too lazy or selfish or arrogant or self-centered to consider her very public opinions that the few women who attended atheist/skeptic functions were swamped with propositions from the very many men AND that she was tired & going to sleep. Every other man there respected if not agreed with her claims.
      I have known women of many ages, styles, politics and relationship statuses who would not go to any events alone because no matter how they dressed every unattached(and some attached) man treated her like she was there for him. Some charming, some crude, some drunk, some shy, some scary some subtle, some creepy, but all in all too many for a shy, socially awkward self-conscious, or simply happily already committed to making the first move when she was in the mood woman.
      Some male critics who have no way of knowing have said RW must have been dressed what they consider to be sexy, while others like you imply she was lying about all the sexual come-ons she has gotten from men in the community you consider yourself a part of.
      Some men and women do find any attention from anyone flattering,, They include outright exhibitionists, the dreadfully lonely and often those who judge/rate themselves by response from their preferred sex and/or are competitive with others of their gender. As many guys compete to get digits or show off a date who looks like a model or whatever their subculture’s idea of hotness is) as women compete for their or society’s “alpha male.” Some women, though, have the experience that any random man would not refuse them sexually and don’t enjoy constant reconfirmation of this. And there are men and women who at a certain stage in their experience/confidence feel that anyone who doesn’t appreciate the qualities/attributes/ethics most important to them is not a priority to get to know better.

  9. Jake says:

    She didn’t make a big deal of it. Other people are doing that. She wasn’t hateful, she said everybody else at the conference was great exept one guy and she just mentioned it as part of a video, and made a request which was totally reasonable. Other people are making a big deal of it and being hatefull, that’s what I find disgusting and misogynistic, the level of hatred when she deserves empathy and sympathy.

  10. …your point being of course that a man whom you have idolized for his insulting, arrogant, insensitive, ignorant, threatening behaviour to those who disagreed with him — now surprised you by being insulting, arrogant, insensitive, ignorant and threatening towards someone who disagreed with him. In fact, you expected him to be sensitive to the feelings of others.

    Gee whiz. The logic of science.

    • Normal Variation says:

      Are you saying that people who lacerate those they categorize as enemies & opponents will treat colleagues the same way? Do you think it’s a personality style. not a tactic? Sincerely curious, know nothing about RW

      • Fabio P.Barbieri says:

        At the very least, it is not surprising. But in the case of RW, my problem has always been that his lousy manners and constant imputation of bad motives to opponents are not compensated by any especial insight. In fact, I could write a better criticism of my own religion – or of any other – with a hand tied behind my back. He also shows insufficient insight into his own motivations; his criticism of religion as such is never separated from a hatred of all positions that diverge from his liberal pseudery. A particularly ridiculous and telling instance took place when the Pope set up the “Ordinariate” to receive a trickle of Anglican converts into an Anglicanizing Catholic environment. Now, if you are a honest and straightforward atheist, that ought to matter little: one group of deluded fools moves from one delusion to another. Dawkins, however, wrote one of the most hate-filled, poisonous screeds anyone has ever seen, making the point that basically this was a reactionary Catholic conspiracy to drain off more reactionary scum. And you see, at that point you are making a political point. You are saying that you hate one church much more than another, because of what you see as its politics. That has nothing to do with honest atheism (I am assuming that such a thing exists) and shows that Dawkins is deeply confused about his own reasons. Which, of course, does not prevent him from being vicious and unpleasant.

  11. Mikaal says:

    Guys you have no idea what this elevator problem grew into. The creepy guy in elevator suddenly became “potential sexual attacker”. She started spewing terms like mysogonism, sexism left n right. Richard Dawkins tried to stop this madness, but was flooded with feminists’ shaming propaganda.

    • John Rennie says:

      So you see Dawkins’ comments as the voice of moderation? Interesting.

    • Luna says:

      Where do you even GET this from? You seem to have events completely backwards.

      All she said was “it’s creepy” (and here’s a hint, guys: try listening once in a while, it’s good for you). Then McGraw called this “anti-sex and anti-men”, which RW pointed out as an internalisation of rape myths (where saying “no” to certain types of interaction is denigrated as “frigid”). Then Dawkins waded in with his “how dare you complain about something this trivial” letter, essentially denying that she had a right to express discomfort about anything so minor. Then she got angry.

      From your reaction, you would have thought that she portrayed EG as an actual rapist and called for castration. That all comes from inside your own head, though, as far as I can tell from objectively verifiable and recorded events.

      • ICOVMP says:

        You conveniently ignore that she did not limit her remark to “it’s creepy.” Watch the video. She explicitly links EG’s behavior to her talk (about the sexualization of women) and refers to EG’s behavior as “sexualizing” her.

        It is THIS and THIS ALONE that has prompted a furious response from Dawkins et al. Watson’s decision to label ambiguous (i.e., not clearly sexual), innocuous behavior as somehow sexually oppressive reveals a malignant idiocy on her part (the spoiled, white, Western complaining about sexualization…PUH-LEEZ). And it trivializes the real sexual oppression that someone like Dawkins does far more to relieve than 10,000 Watsons ever will.

        Don’t play dumb, Luna. You know that Watson made this about feminism, sexualization, sexual oppression, what-have-you.

        And let me just say that I am so, so, so happy to see the thunderous reply from Dawkins, MRAs (men rights activists), and the manosphere.

        • Luna says:

          I see you are ignoring my other reply to you, which clearly answers why this was regarded as sexualising?

          As you say, don’t play dumb.

          The definition of irony: the “spoiled, white, Western” MRA, a member of the ethnic and gender class which, all other things being equal, holds more privilege than any other class on the planet, complaining about persecution.

          • ICOVMP says:

            When did I complain about persecution? (Forgive me for requesting factual support. I’m sure that constitutes some sort of patriarchal-sexual-objectification-voodoo-mystical-discomfort-inducing-crime-against-all-women-everywhere.)

          • David Jones says:

            You’ve conflated the properties of a group with the properties of an individual. Man, as a group are taller than woman, as a group: not all men are taller than all women.

            See how easy it is now a man has explained it to you?

          • Luna says:

            @ICOVMP – no, you personally did not claim persecution. Too many MRAs do, but you personally did not. I shouldn’t have put it that way.

            It would be nice if you could stretch far enough to acknowledging the answers given to you about why the situation could legitimately be classed as sexualisation.

            @DJ — irrelevant. Any individual man could legitimately claim that he is persecuted in certain situations, but the claims here are being made that “feminists” (as a class) and RW as an individual are ‘man-haters’ who are somehow trying to disadvantage men (as a class) by punishing them for certain types of communication.

  12. David Jones says:

    The ‘creepy guy’ was creepy in Watson’s view. Simply saying to her what she reports he said isn’t obviously ‘creepy’. Besides, her judgement of him would have been impaired at that time of the morning, given her tiredness and state of inebriation.

    He was a potential sexual attacker in the same way that any man may be a potential sexual attacker. Probably less, as women are more often attacked by people they know and she didn’t know this guy.

    • Cara says:

      So, women can’t make proper judgments because we’re too close to the situation?

      The man’s waiting until he got her alone to speak to her can’t be “objectively” creepy?

      He gets the benefit of all possible doubt, while she is automatically assumed to be “inebriated” (heh) and therefore wrong about his intent?

      I wish you guys would make up your minds. Was she deliberately trolling for sex by being in a bar, or was he innocently asking her in for coffee?


  13. Jake says:

    Rebecca was there, not us, and I think it’s disgusting that when she makes a request concerning her own personal boundaries to her own community and gets top level bullied (Richard Dawkins) and that gives licence to everyone else who wants to jump in and do the same. I’m glad PZ Myers is on her side. I think Rebecca is tough and has handled this well with confidence, but shit, what example does all this give to women who aren’t tough amd confident enough to weather a shitstorm over a reasonable request. Yeah I’m disgusted

    • David Jones says:

      She bullied first, remember. she turned her platform comments into an attack on a young female blogger.

      • Luna says:

        All she did was point out that when someone blatantly misinterprets “don’t hit on me at 4am in an elevator, it’s creepy” as being entirely anti-men and anti-sex, that is an example of the myths of “rape culture” being internalised and then expressed even by people who are feminists — and other women do not feel that their concerns about vulnerability are being supported.

        That’s not bullying. That is a fair comment.

        What is bullying, is the level of vitriol levelled at RW for not being sympathetic enough to the poor EG, for calling out the people who equate “don’t do this” with “I hate sex and hate men”, and for daring to be angry at Dawkins’s dismissiveness. I’ve seen a level of misrepresentation, deliberate obtuseness and unwillingness to stop and think which greatly disheartens me about the “skeptic” community.

        • Normal Variation says:

          Also failure to read other source material and insistence of speculation and making up facts, when the actual facts are available and/or past evidence provides no basis for the invention.
          Plus a glorying in a certain debating style tone which is used to “win” rather than to seek areas of agreement.

          • Luna says:

            The skeptic community prides itself on having a better understanding of the world than any other worldview, but when push comes to shove in situations like this, for too many people who self-identify as part of this group it’s still all about trying to demonstrate that they are right, not about genuine good-faith attempts at understanding.

            It’s disheartening and disturbing. And the blatant norm-based defense of “be sympathetic to the poor menz, women do not have any valid concerns here” disgusts me, frankly.

  14. dave says:

    yeah, dawkins “bullied” her. just out of curiosity, is this a situation where he is simply not allowed to disagree with her at all? seems that way.

    “boundaries”??? the boundary of not being spoken to you must mean. she is “tough” and handled the criticism with “confidence”.what does that even mean?

    and you know what, when a single man or woman hangs out in a bar til 4am its not the most irrational thing ever to assume that they are looking for some sex. and this nonsense of “objective” being a bad thing. as if women dont do it anyway.

    you are all NUTS i think.

    • John Rennie says:

      Dave, now you’re just imagining other people’s positions—inaccurately—so that you can attack them. It’s tiresome. If all you’re doing now is coming back to yell, then you’re wearing out your welcome.

    • Jake says:

      She handled the critiscism with confidence, means she didn’t start crying to get sympathy. No I don’t think she should have been critisized for saying what made her unsafe and uncomfortable. I think doing that to someone vulnerable is ridiculous and cruel.

  15. David Jones says:

    I don’t seem to be able to reply to Jake under his comment here and here so I’ll try donw here instead.

    Jake: I din’t bring lust and sin into this, you did here. You wrote ‘lust isn’t a sin if‘, implying that it is in some cases a sin, implying your acceptance of a traditional religious morality.

    I see you’ve adopted a self-serving definition of ‘objectification’ that allows you to happily consume pornography. That’s all very well, it’s just not the more traditional feminist view.

    As I said, the concept of ‘objectification’ is contentious and pretty much pointless. It’s just a yah boo word for you. Watson can object to the objectification of being asked for a coffee but produce one-handed literature of naked women.

    How very convenient.

    • Jake says:

      Yes I brought Lust into it because it’s pertinent . Yes I enjoy feminist porn. When it’s done well it’s amazing. and the people in it get respect, that’s what allows me to enjoy feminist porn and lets me appreciate people who are in any porn for being brave and generous. I don;t need any excuses to enjoy it, it’s wonderful and I’m proud of it. and I’m not ashamed of masturbating to it either because masturbation is the foundation of sexuality. and the sexuality we discover from we share we share with our partner.

      I don’t think internal objectification (in our own minds) is a bad thing, just when we selfishly objectify someone else when we interact with them. If they want to be objectified that’s fine. but then it’s what they want, it’s their particular thing, They might want to be whipped, but again it’s their choice, that’s what BDSM is all about choice trust and love.

      Also there are different types of feminism. Principally the old kind that thought all sex was rape and the new kind that I love that values female desire.

      So I see nothing wrong in producing a sexy calendar that respects womens beauty and respects them as sexual beings. which hers does They could be showing the beauty and variety of their vulvas and that would be a good thing because vulvas are beautiful or they could be acting out their desires to be spanked or to spank a guy or which ever gender they;re attracted too.

      Women can do none of these things or express their sexuality at all if they don’t feel safe and fear that expressing their sexuality means people think they lose the right to choose who and when and where the sex happens. So if we don’t care or respect how women feel when they say they’re uncomfortable, then they can’t openly express their desire for us which in turn would make it easier to find out if a sexual advance from us is wanted.

      Rebecca has said under what conditions she feels unsafe. and unless your intending to make sexual advance to her, What has that actually got to do with you’ I think critiszing her doing that is totally unreasonable.

      • David Jones says:

        How do you distinguish feminist porn from the other sort?

        • Jake says:

          The main characteruistic is women having real orgasms not acting. and a diversity of real beauty. (Big boobs and blonde hair are nice but they’re not the only kind of beauty) The content is inspired by the emotional context of real sex and the site design and blurb is respectful of the constributor’s so are the site forums.

          What sex positive feminism does is it allows women a safe space to express their sexuality which is they love men or other women and then we can express ours without shame.

          • Jake says:

            The blog isn’t allowing me to leave any links but if you go to [redacted] you’ll see a feminist porn site.

            [Sorry, Jake, but with no offense intended to you, I’d rather not have people posting even encoded links to porn sites of any kind here. I’m not sure how PLoS management would feel about it, but it might lead to other problems down the line. —Rennie]

  16. dave says:

    john, im replying to jakes comment. im imagining nothing, im replying to what he said. and im challenging him with questions.

    which ill do to you. in what way am i imagining peoples positions (inaccurately-something youre incapable of i suppose) and how am I ATTACKING them?

    i imagine its tiresome FOR YOU because you havent even tried to respond to ANY points ive made except for calling me names and assuming things about me. its also condescending to refer to the things ive written as “yelling”. as far as being welcome, i didnt know i needed to be welcome to give my opinion on the internet.

    i dont know you personally but i imagine you to be a bit of a woman worshipper who TRAPS them in the image of “sugar and spice and all things nice”. in the real world women are more psychologically violent than men and get off on subtle humiliation of men. thats what the phrase “REAL MAN” is all about.

    i find it very very strange how you can talk about how “rebecca thanked the men for respecting her boundaries and for not objectifying her”. thats insanity to me. maybe all the men didnt like her, its so self complimentary to say what she said.its a bit like a white person thanking a group of black people for not robbing them.
    as far as “objectifying”, thats what everybody does everyday . especially women. to men, other women and of course themselves. the great myth about womens empowerment is that every woman thinks she speaks for every other woman.

    the fact that you think a man shouldnt pursue is sexual desires but a woman should, the fact that you think that rebecca shouldnt be criticized for her actions they way she would be if she was a man, the fact that you dont doubt her motives and attitude because OF COURSE shes just a more evolved innocent woman- makes you very SEXIST towards both sexes.

    but of course in your mind, i hate women, dont i john? how convenient for you.

    • Mikaal says:

      Just wanted to give props to gentleman above.

    • Jake says:

      Dave some of the points you’ve raised I’ve adressed in my reponse to Dave Jones.
      We can persue our sexual desires but we’re constrained by other men who rape. Until the day no-one commits rape or sexual assualt we have to appreciate there are women who fear rape a lot and some who don’t much at all, but we should be sensitive to them all and appreciate when they feel unsafe or uncomfortable and apologise if we’ve caused them to feel that way, Being feminist doesn’t mean you ignore situations where we’re oppressed like all the countries where having a penis gets you forcably drafted into the army with the added possiblity of death or being discharged disabled. It’s the 2 wriongs don’t make a right, it’s 2 rights that make things fair.

      • dave says:

        fear of rape? im suppose to walk around always mindful of males or females fear of rape. some women are raped by their husbands. women are raped by people they know and trust. same goes for robbery and murder. so when can i feel like im not stressing someone out? you know, saving myself from having to apologise for “making” them FEEL that way….

        feminist porn? you like when YOU FEEL the people in it get respect. go buy a big mac, ask yourself whether you FEEL the person behind the counter feels respected.
        porn is sex with a camera in the room. amateur (married)couples record themselves having sex. is that “feminist” porn? what if that couple do something physically that you FEEL is disrespectful to the man or the woman. women are paid more than men in porn. women are the stars and men are the workers. also would you be so kind as to describe “feminist” porn for us? in real life sex is raw, graphic and not pretty, how would sex with a camera be any different.

        you identify yourself as a feminist. so u want equality FOR WOMEN. equality with who, MEN. so really you just want everyone to be treated equally. in the courts and in the voting booths. and treated equally by being judged as equals when it comes to their actions, with no double standards. do you really need to declare yourself anything then?

        • Jake says:

          Ooops replied to you in the wrong place there below , you seem to be a bit negative about sex and life in general. There’s beauty to be found in sex (and indeed great orgasms!!) and satisfaction to be found in many lines of work given a bit of persaverence and/or luck and to find it.

  17. Jake says:

    I’ve just replied to Dave about what feminist porn is a bit higher up. Sex positive feminism creates a safe atmosphere where both sexes and all genders can express our sexuality, it’s not about man hating.

    As I go about my business I keep a watch out for people who are vulnerable, wether I’m walking behind a lone woman at night ( so I cross to the other side of the street so I’m not behind her ) or someone old who can’t get there suitcase on the train, you help them on with it. I think any decent person does that you don’t have to be Bruce Wayne :)

    • David Jones says:

      I’ve just replied to Dave about what feminist porn is a bit higher up

      Yes…leaving links to your favourite porn sites in a discussion about supposed harassment of women and creepiness has an irony to it I can’t better.

      • Jake says:

        Porn sites that women enjoy and subscribe to aren’t creepy and kind of illustrate that your missing the whole point. I’ve tried to lay it out and explain it in a positive way but you seem to have nothing constructive or productive or enlightening to say only destructive comments and bickering.

        • David Jones says:

          Again, you’re an arbiter of what’s ‘creepy’? This is another yah-boo word, like ‘objectify’, isn’t it? There isn’t any factual content in your claim, it’s simply an emotional stance towards a subject.

          I’ve tried to lay it out and explain it

          N0 you haven’t. I asked you what feminist porn was and you gave me a URL

          • Jake says:

            David I’ve told you at length what feminist porn is and if you go to the URL you’ll see a feminist porn site. Having an opinion on something doesn’t make us an arbiter we have to persuade others of our point of view . Which I’ve tried to do with you, and as you might learn something from me I’m open to learning something from you but your not trying to persuade me of your point of view at all. You just have less and less to say until your now making person digs. and bickering. I’m not going to have an ill willed and unproductive exchange with.
            Still, when an exchange like this is recorded it’s immaterial who has the last word as the whole conversation and all the points are there for anyone to read and make up their own mind.

            Thanks to John for a good article and it’s a good blog too! :)

  18. “Again, she didn’t accuse the guy who bothered her in the elevator of committing a crime; he disturbed and offended her. Yes, people are sometimes going to make mistakes—all the more reason to thank Rebecca for the heads-up about the wrong way to introduce yourself. ”

    apparently a lot of male scientists are total beta wimps. makes sense, actually.

  19. David Jones says:


    You haven’t explained anything at length.

    Look, if I didn’t know what elephants were, pointing to a specific instance of an elephant wouldn’t be much of an explanation. You would need to tell me what made an elephant and elephant rather than a giraffe. You might decide to tell me how I could distinguish between an elephant and a giraffe that didn’t rely upon your assertion about the mental or emotional state of the elephant.

    When I asked you what constituted ‘feminist porn’ I was expecting something more thorough that the claim that the main feature is that the women involved were having orgasms. But it appears you’re serious.

    It’s by the by, anyhow. I don’t take your self-serving definition of acceptable and unacceptable porn seriously even as a guideline to ethically-satisfactory masturbatory material for yourself, let alone as a contribution to a rational discussion spinning off from Watson’s hypocritical remark about being ‘sexualised’.

  20. Jake says:

    Dave you need a new brain or an upgrade :)

  21. ICOVMP says:

    Here’s a question I haven’t seen anyone ask yet:

    Watson claims she was bothered by elevator-guy’s behavior because it “sexualized” her–treatment she found particularly bothersome in light of the talk she had just given at the conference…

    How did he sexualize her? Even according to her own paraphrasing of the situation, he simply asked her to his hotel room for coffee and to “talk.” In fact, he even explicitly prefaced his invitation with “don’t take this the wrong way,” suggesting he did not want her to read into his invitation. His behavior would have been entirely consistent with that of a eunuch, gay male, what-have-you. Nothing sexual at all.

    And if you think it must have been sexual because he invited her back to his room, that can easily be explained by the fact that it was 4am. Other suitable locations were probably closed.

    So somebody please explain how elevator-guy sexualized her. While you’re at it, please also explain why she isn’t guilty of sexualizing him for attributing heterosexual motives to his invitation with slim-to-no basis for doing so.

    • David Jones says:

      Agree 100%. I don’t understand what this claim that he ‘sexualized’ her is supposed to mean.

      I presume it’s supposed to be a term of disapprobation. I presume she’s trying to say, in her unclear way, that he regarded her only or primarily as a person upon which he could slake his sexual desire. That’s an awful lot to conclude from a coffee invite, even if the invitation was made with the hope of sex. and even so: so what?

    • Luna says:

      Let’s just be clear, there is also a wide cultural context of “come back to my place for coffee” as the “polite” intro to “I want to have sex with you.” I also suggest that you check out the RSA Animate video on “Language as a Window into Human Nature.”

      (Quite as an aside, in an imaginary hypothetical universe where RW followed the guy to his room, if she got raped there the men on this board would probably be united in saying “Well, if she didn’t expect sex, what was she doing in his hotel room at 4am?”)

      RW had just spent hours talking about how getting random sexual propositions from people you don’t really know in inappropriate settings makes women uncomfortable, and chases them away from many venues and groups when it happens too much.

      Then a guy, who claims to have found her “interesting” and who was in the bar where she was discussing the subject, does just that.

      How much more plainly could one convey the message “I wasn’t listening to what you say, I just want to have sex with you”?

      I’m curious as to how that would not be a justification for the part of the statement “…when men sexualize me in that manner…“?

      • ICOVMP says:

        Ok, Luna. I’ll bite. How should EG have requested a coffee/chat meeting with Watson without sexualizing her? Is it even possible?

        Again, you can’t identify anything in EG’s behavior that conflicts with that of a eunuch, homosexual male, etc. You have to rely on a “wide cultural context.”

        Interesting that a person seemingly so interested in ending cultural oppression (which often takes the form of “you are X; X is a member of class Y; therefore you are Y”) would pigeon-hole a person based on some nebulous cultural context. How quickly the “victim” becomes the aggressor!

        Also, wasn’t Watson in a foreign country? Just how wide is this “cultural context”? Does it extend to Ireland? If so, how do you know that? Don’t tell me you’re guilty of cultural hegemony as well as gender hegemony. That would be just too much oppression for me. I might even get “incredibly uncomfortable.”

        • Luna says:

          Wow! What a truly stunning attempt at disingenuousness.

          How should EG have requested a coffee/chat meeting with Watson without sexualizing her? Is it even possible?

          Well, gee; “I thought you were interesting, but I didn’t really feel like I could get a word in with the crowd you were chatting to at the bar; if you get a chance, maybe we could grab a coffee in the coffee shop tomorrow, there are ideas I’d like to talk to you about?” — that might be a start, if what he was after was actual conversation, and if he had been paying attention at all to the things she had been saying (e.g. “I’m tired and I want to go to sleep now”). That would have been a good start. Funny thing is, I have known many men who are perfectly capable of extending a courteous invitation for conversation in a blatantly non-sexual manner in a multitude of settings. It’s hardly asking the impossible.

          …Just interested, are you seriously claiming that cultural understandings do not exist, that they do not shape communication, or that they are simply irrelevant whenever you decide that interaction should be interpreted absolutely literally (as opposed to the way that people actually communicate in reality)?

          And as for Also, wasn’t Watson in a foreign country? Just how wide is this “cultural context”? Does it extend to Ireland? If so, how do you know that?

          RW was indeed in Ireland. Yes, this cultural understanding certainly extends to Dublin, Ireland, as well as many other cultural contexts. How do I know that? Because I’m a dual US/UK citizen who has lived in various places in the US, in Shanghai briefly, in Tokyo briefly, in Scotland for considerably longer than briefly, and (in 1999) in Dublin itself. Would you like to wind your faux-indignation back a wee bitty? Your “cultural hegemony” is showing.

          Seriously, don’t play dumb. There have been many men here freely speculating about what EG was thinking in the absence of any evidence whatsoever; the speculation that really all he wanted was conversation and not sex at all, is equally based on no evidence whatsoever, and on the pretense that social understandings and context completely don’t matter. I don’t know whether you are actually stupid enough to believe that, or if you think I am; either way isn’t a very good reflection on you.

          • ICOVMP says:

            Why does it not surprise me to learn that you are used to men extending you blatantly non-sexual invitations? OH SNAP!

            But seriously, you ask what I oppose. I oppose people who monopolize generalizations (and thereby perpetuate a double-standard). RW (and you) indict EG for sexualizing RW, an indictment you base on generalities and cultural contexts. Yet you shriek, whine, and wail if a man ever indicts a woman as “asking for it” (slutty clothes, drinking late at night, flirting, whatever) based on generalities and cultural contexts.

            Personally, I say let’s abandon these sloppy generalizations. People can wield them far too easily, both to hastily accuse and to shamefully excuse. I would never want a man to hide behind “cultural context” as an excuse for why he sexually assaulted one of my sisters. Similarly, I would never want a woman to accuse one of my brothers of sexualizing/sexual oppression, not due to his individual behavior, but because his behavior fit within some amorphous “cultural context.”

            BTW, are you saying that misunderstandings never happen? Do you really think that your hypothetical invitation is so iron-clad that no woman would think it “sexualizing”?

            Thank you for saying “equally based on NO EVIDENCE whatsoever.” That is precisely my point. In the absence of evidence, RW should not have accused EG of “sexualizing” her. She can say she was uncomfortable all she wants (plenty of evidence for that since it’s her emotional experience of a situation), but she crossed the line when she attributed a particular kind of sexual wickedness to him.

            I accept your surrender.

          • Luna says:

            “shriek, whine, wail”…nice spin you’ve got going there; when the facts and the law are both against you, try to portray the other person as taking the wrong tone?

            Ah, yes, and we have finally gotten to the “hah, men don’t want to have sex with YOU.” Erm, that’s a perfectly legitimate debate tactic/tool to enhance understanding, of course.

            Aside from that, you are…just…seriously delusional. I suppose you might simply be trolling, with what amounts to a claim that you can legitimately make up any detail that you please, while ignoring cultural context and understanding. But I have other things to do tonight.

      • David Jones says:

        Quite as an aside, in an imaginary hypothetical universe where RW followed the guy to his room, if she got raped there the men on this board would probably be united in saying “Well, if she didn’t expect sex, what was she doing in his hotel room at 4am?”

        No men here have said anything of the sort. This is all in your head.

        • John Rennie says:

          Perhaps the men party to this discussion have not said it. But given how commonly people (both men and women) do blame women or question what “signals” they were sending when they do get sexually assaulted, Luna’s speculation was hardly groundless.

          Especially given the number of men here who have been saying that Rebecca’s presence in an elevator after a night of socializing did make it reasonable for a stranger to hit on her.

          • ICOVMP says:

            It’s funny how dangerous and and hypocritical these sweeping generalizations can be.

            Women: An invitation to have coffee in a man’s hotel room GENERALLY has sexual implications. Therefore, EG was hitting on me. Therefore, I have suffered “sexualization.”

            Men: A woman staying up late and drinking is GENERALLY looking for a romantic encounter. Therefore, she wouldn’t mind me hitting on her. Therefore, I am justified in hitting on her.

            And so on and so forth.

          • David Jones says:

            Perhaps the men party to this discussion have not said it

            Well that is the subset we’re considering, isn’t it, John?

            Luna’s speculation was hardly groundless.

            Utterly groundless. No men here have said anything of the sort. Or is it your contention that all men as men will exhibit the very worst sort of behaviour you can find amongst a small subset of men?

            Make the case for that position, John, then we can consider whether the claim was groundless.

            but it’s a little bit stronger, her claim, isn’t it? Apparently all the men here would be united in blaming her if she got raped.

            Just as groundless as my claiming that all feminists are as idiotic as Luna or all science journalists as confused as you.

          • John Rennie says:

            I’ve already explained why Luna was justified in hazarding a guess about what some reactions to the hypothetical might be, both on general sociological evidence and on the evidence of statements made in these comments. You’re choosing to ignore that evidence and resorting to gross generalizations and straw-man arguments as evasions.

            “but it’s a little bit stronger, her claim, isn’t it? Apparently all the men here would be united in blaming her if she got raped.” That’s an utter distortion of anything that’s been said to you. I’m beginning to think you’re trolling, David. If so, stop. It’s not welcome.

          • David Jones says:

            John, Luna’s comment here:


            clearly says ‘the men on this board would be united’.

          • John Rennie says:

            You know, you’re right: Luna did say “united,” and I apologize for having said this was a complete distortion of what she said. In that, you are right and I am wrong.

            I do nevertheless believe that you are grabbing at small excesses in rhetoric as an excuse to ignore the arguments that Luna and others here are making. For example, I am quite confident that Luna would not stand by the generalization that she thinks all men in this comment thread would question whether Rebecca would have been asking for trouble in the hypthetical. (Luna, consider yourself asked.) Whereas I believe you would probably stand by some of the insulting generalizations you have made about feminists.

          • Luna says:

            Luna responds: no, actually, “united” was the wrong word for me to use, because I think it is quite clear that not all the men here would in fact respond that way. However I will stand by a prediction that some here would. Operative word: “some.”

            I strongly suspect that the MRA contingent would be among those, too, given history.

          • Luna says:

            Damn those unclosed italics tags. :-/

          • David Jones says:

            insulting generalizations about feminisits

            Ok, you have me at a loss here…to what are you referring?

          • John Rennie says:

            The implication in this comes to mind: “Just as groundless as my claiming that all feminists are as idiotic as Luna or all science journalists as confused as you.”

            I’m sure you can say that you were being rhetorical, but then again, I think it was fairly obvious that Luna was, too.

          • David Jones says:

            John, my saying ‘just as groundless as all feminists are as idiotic as Luna’ is clearly not a generalisation about feminists. On the contrary it’s saying that any attempt to suggest all feminists were as idiotic as Luna would be groundless

          • John Rennie says:

            And Luna’s “the men on this board would be united” clearly wasn’t intended as a generalization about all the men here. See how unproductive it becomes when we pick on details of one another’s wording rather than arguing in good faith?

        • Luna says:

          Are hypotheticals and conditionals concepts too advanced for you?

          The situation (RW follows man to his room, is raped) does not exist; no man has said “Well, if she didn’t expect sex, what was she doing in his hotel room at 4am?” because this is not the actual situation, so the occasion for this statement has not arisen.

          Given experience — and given the recorded and documented history of things like the Mike Tyson and Kobe Bryant rape trials — that this would probably be a widespread chorus, is certainly not an unreasonable prediction. I’m sorry you can’t grasp that. I suggest you think about it for a while, and look up any comments forums which may still exist about the cases I mention above.

          • ICOVMP says:

            False accusations in Duke Lacrosse and DSK cases.

            Given experience, if RW were to accuse EG of rape, it would probably be false. At lease, it’s not an unreasonable prediction.

            Aren’t sweeping generalizations fun!

          • Luna says:

            Well done on missing that point, there. Quick! Quick! Shift those goalposts!!

  22. Horace says:

    Where did Watson say she was stared at? There were no such allegations that I have seen. He got on the elevator and said for her not to take it the wrong way, but he found her interesting, and he asked her to come to his room for coffee and conversation. Where did the “staring” happen?

  23. Horace says:

    You say “her message is being misinterpreted as unreasonable or anti-male.” However, she herself has called the Elevator Guy’s statement and question to her in the elevator as “sexual objectification,” and misogyny. She has gone further in agreeing with many other folks who have called it harassment and other such verbiage.

    I think the objection from Dawkins and most other folks is that the 4am come on, assuming it wasn’t a literal request to have coffee and conversation, is that the request was no big deal, even if viewed in its worst light.

    • Luna says:

      Please be accurate. She did not call EG’s propositioning of her misogyny (yes, she did call it sexual objectification, but see my reply to ICOVMP above). She has never accused EG of being a misogynist.

      She has called the backlash against her which accuses her of being an anti-sex man-hater, and which accompanies overt threats of sexual assault, misogyny. She has called the dismissal of her expression of discomfort as being somehow invalid, part of an essentially misogynist culture which views women as being legitimately available for any kind of interaction with men whenever. It’s hard to see where that’s entirely inaccurate.

      • jackson says:

        i wonder why it is that so many of you are so quick to adopt ideas without thinking about them, doesnt look good for the other parts of life.

        anyway Rennie is deleting comments he disagrees to shape the conversation to the way he sees the issue without looking beyond the narrow context of RWs interaction. its self serving to his article that has no advice for men to meet women, just thank RW for being more advanced than him and ALL men.

        this conversation is now a compromised, edited and contrived one. john rennie sees every point of few that challenges the self righteous in this discussion as “trolling” so its time to leave him to his editing and the people who agree with him…

  24. Jake says:

    Are you guys still talking about this shit? :) ha ha get a life

  25. Jake says:

    No I think you’ll still be talking about this at Christmas :)

  26. thebewilderness says:

    I don’t really get how this is too complicated to grasp.
    If you follow a woman out of a bar in to an elevator at 4am and the first words you have ever spoken to her in your life is to tell her not to take it the “wrong” way but you’d like her to come to your room you have totally sexually objectified her, straight up, no qualifiers. Srsly.

    • David Jones says:

      Watson didn’t say the guy followed her. I don’t really get how this is too complicated to grasp.

      you have totally sexually objectified her

      You have asked her to your room for coffee. Perhaps it was a sexual invitation, despite the very clear disclaimer. Perhaps not. But how is that ‘sexually objectifying’ her? Is any sexual invitation, even if unwanted, ‘sexually objectifying’? Is that all you mean by ‘sexually objectifying’?

      You play with these nonsense phrases as if they mean something but they don’t. They’re an indication of your emotional attitude, not an accurate description of an event.

      • John Rennie says:

        This has already been addressed upthread, and in my post. If you make sexual advances to someone with indifference to whether those advances might be welcome, and especially if you make those advances in a way that might make that person actively uncomfortable, then you are not treating her like a person but as an object for your desire. That is sexual objectification. It doesn’t have to be born of sexism; it can come from deep social cluelessness. Either way, it’s objectionable and reasonable people should be willing to avoid it.

        As I said in my post, if we take all the details of sexuality and gender out of the situation and ask, “Should people be considerate of the feelings of others who might feel uncomfortable about being approached by a stranger at 4 a.m. in an elevator?” then the socially reasonable answer is clearly yes. And it isn’t out of line for someone to point out that fact. Adding the actual details of the sexes involved and the implicitly sexual nature of the advance doesn’t negate any of that; it only emphasizes the point.

        When Rebecca first talked about the elevator incident, she didn’t rail against the guy’s sexism. She pointed out that it was something most women would probably find unwelcome and suggested that men not do it—whether out of sexism or cluelessness, they shouldn’t do it. You don’t have to be sexist to disagree with her, but there’s something deeply insensitive (and perhaps socially maladjusted) in your reasoning if you don’t.

        “They’re an indication of your emotional attitude, not an accurate description of an event.” That statement presupposes that emotions are not a relevant part of the description.

        • David Jones says:

          That statement presupposes that emotions are not a relevant part of the description

          You’re misunderstanding what I wrote. I’m not denying that people have emotional dispositions. I’m saying, simply, that those stances are ontologically subjective, not epistemically objective.

          So when Luna, or whoever, says such-and-such is a fact they’re making a statement about their emotional attitudes, not about true facts about the (external) world.

          • John Rennie says:

            No, I understood your meaning. I’m emphasizing that emotional experiences in many situations (such as those of women who may feel intimidated by men in isolated places) are objectively relevant for understanding what’s going on. It’s essential in this situation because the entire issue involves the feelings of the participants. To deny that is to take a blinkered view of human interactions. Bullying and intimidation don’t have to involve physical violence or explicit threats.

            Suppose someone who doesn’t know me, a man, is waiting for an elevator. I walk up behind him, and when the elevator arrives, I get on after him. He presses the button for his floor; I don’t press one. Instead, I stand in front of the door and stare at him. With a steady, unblinking gaze, I stare directly at his eyes, while taking deep, measured breaths. My hands are balled into fists.

            Would anyone deny that behavior would be very creepy? Or that it might seem intimidating to at least some people—even though objectively I didn’t make any threat, or even approach the guy? Would anyone consider it wrong to advise children or other people who don’t know better that they should avoid doing such things unless they want to be perceived badly?

            That’s what Rebecca did.

  27. jackson says:

    day or night, public or private sexual/romantic advances make most people feel uncomfortable (you say uncomfortable, if you mean “fear for their safety”then you should say that) IF they arent attracted to that person or arent interested. if they are interested then that attention makes them feel very comfortable.

    way too many men these days ASSUME that women wont be “interested” so they dont even approach, much to the unhappiness of millions of women. for a man who has “confidence” then he has to assume that she IS interested (indifferent to her feelings-YES it is, because youre just guessing her feelings anyway at this point) and if she turns out to not be, no harm done.

    dont forget that this Elevator, which seems to be such a character in this story itself, is attached to a bar. had he approached her in the bar at 3:59AM would you still call him “clueless”? the fact that she was in a HOTEL bar is even more of reason to assume shes looking for some action.

    i dont like euphemisms but whats he suppose to say, “i see you hanging out in the bar til 4am with your bed upstairs and if youre looking for some action heres youre chance”…. had he asked to meet her the next day or something that would have been clueless.

    the fact that you compare a man TALKING to a woman as the scary actions of a psychopath staring at you with clenched fists and obviously threatening your safety non verbally amuses and disappoints me.

    there are bar rats, hook ups and one night stands. how do you think those things are initiated?

    • John Rennie says:

      Those things are initiated successfully by pairs of people exercising a modicum of emotional sensitivity : being socially aware, using empathy, listening if she has previously said she doesn’t like such attentions, etc.—the same kinds of tools people use to navigate social situations all the time. You seem to be arguing that men’s only choices are to do nothing or to blunder blindly into a proposition, but they don’t.

      In my example, the behaviors I mentioned might be more extreme but that’s because I was using them to show that readings of emotional intent do matter to the reality of social interactions, in response to David’s argument. You may not recognize making a verbal advance to a woman isolated in an elevator at 4 a.m. as potentially threatening but if you’ve been following this controversy at all, then you should know by know that a great many women do—and I’m amused and disappointed right back at you for being such a slow learner.

      By quibbling about the exact time and the fact that she had been in a hotel bar, you are putting yourself in with others trying to invalidate Rebecca’s feelings and her measured response. That’s disturbing without being amusing in the least.

  28. jackson says:

    Jackson Here, they were “moderating” me….

    [Still am, actually. I moderate a number of comments and still publish them. Don’t circumvent my moderation again, though, or you won’t be welcome to comment in the future.—JR]

    the offer could have been made with eye contact alone. only takes a second to show your intentions to a possible sexual partner with eye contact. im sure rebecca would have had the exact same reaction about feeling “hit on” and how she doesnt enjoy that. all the guy would have done is got on t he elevator after here, made eye contact for a second and then stood wherever he stood and said nothing. she would have had the exact same reaction. how that could involve “emotional sensitivity” and “empathy” on his part ,id like to see since the interaction was so quick.

    [You seem awfully positive about what Rebecca feels or would do in other situations. You are nonetheless wrong. Rebecca has said as much, and those of us who know Rebecca—which I’m going to hazard I do better than you—know that is not how she reacts. If your arguments are based on such presumption about others’ reactions, then they aren’t worth taking seriously.—JR]

    some women would feel just as threatened had he said nothing if that is who they are. surely she would have had a chance to get off the elevator before it even went up if she was so uncomfortable. had he asked her the time, same reaction or FEELING.

    the time and place john set a context. she was partying in a hotel bar until the last hours of the night (they start making breakfast at 5am). why do think its such an inappropriate assumption on EGs behalf that she was looking to pick someone up? [Perhaps because she had publicly said as much? Perhaps because a more sensitive man would have recognized her discomfort in the situation?—JR] if he had invited her to his room at 4pm that would be a bit weird since that he had no reason to even assume he was looking to fck there and then, but 4am is a different story. [This is a rule you are making up and applying retroactively to other people. In case you need to be told: no, it’s not a reasonable assumption for men to make about women they don’t know.—JR] and just for the sake of the argument on emotional sensitivity, empathy and all that, whats your thoughts on a woman asking a man to her room at 4am? isnt she “objectifying” him and not “respecting him as person”? happens all the time….. [Yes, it does. Between mutually consenting adults, who socially feel their way to that consent. None of that happened here.]

    invalidate “feelings”. feelings are such peculiar things. had he said nothing she could have gone to her room and thought “wow, even a drunk guy in an elevator on the way to bed doesnt even hit on me, i must be very unattractive” she could have FELT that. she could have FELT anything. when i walk by young black guys at night, i FEEL something, should that be “validated”?

    had he done the very same thing in the bar it would be the exact same thing. elevator is irrelevant. “isolated”. was he gonna rape in the elevator john? geez [Do you think that rapes don’t happen in elevators? Do you think that women don’t get accosted in near-public places? If you think that being hit on in an elevator is the same as being hit on in a bar, then you really do not understand women’s experiences. And if you actually are interested in having real relationships with women, you ought to want to understand those experiences.]

    as rebecca was walking down the corridor to her room, had man come out of his room and walked towards her she would have FELT whatever she would have felt. not all woman are the same. whats he suppose to do, lie down on the floor until she passes. [Rebecca has not complained about something that Elevator Guy didn’t do. She has complained about something that he did do involving her. Those are not the same, and your efforts to blur the distinction amount to a dishonest argument.]

    and finally, why do men have to be so hapless in your descriptions. “blunder blindly” and “socially clueless”. [If the shoe fits….]
    and as far as her saying she doesnt like men acting on feeling attracted to her, PLEASE!!!!! [Yes, that’s such an unreasonable thing for a woman to say. Where does she get off, asking men to curb their sexual impulses when they extend to her person?]

  29. jackson says:

    john for you to butcher my comment like that isnt cool. just because its your forum doesnt mean you should abuse it by not letting me have my say. theres other people in this discussion,when they read that their not gonna challenge me or agree with me for what i wrote. circumvent your moderation? this is a chat john that you blocked me from contributing to. …

    [Jackson goes on whining this way for some time, then picks up his muddled arguments where he left off, and I’m not interested in sharing any of it. Instead, I’m going to use him as an object lesson to help clarify my commenting policies.

    Let me begin by saying that I very much appreciate the wonderful comments that many of you leave, including the ones that disagree with me or point out my errors intelligently. I’m happy to have this blog be a place for lively, intelligent debate. The diversity of comments in the thread above helps to show that, I hope.

    But at the same time, I really have no interest at all in sponsoring a place where people post stupid, offensive, needlessly annoying comments, or in allowing such people to undermine the more constructive conversations that might otherwise take place. The Internet is vast and offers no shortage of places where people can say any stupid thing they’d like, including insulting things about me or what I’ve written. Those people should make their comments there, not here.

    If you look at the Commenting Policy in the sidebar, you’ll see that it says, “Decisions of the management are arbitrary and final. Remember, I’m an editor: making writers’ words disappear is what I do.” This house belongs to PLoS and to me, and I make the rules. Your approval or disapproval of what I allow in comments is irrelevant to me. I think that the kind of people whom I’d like to have comment here will enjoy the environment I’m cultivating. If you don’t… well, as noted, the Internet is vast.

    Periodically, I put comments in moderation. Sometimes I moderate all comments indiscriminately. Sometimes I select individuals to moderate. Why? If you need to know my reasons, I’ll let you know. If you are an individual I’m specifically moderating, I may still approve and publish your comments. I may edit or redact them first. Or I may just raise the bar for what I think needs to be a worthwhile comment from you. If you don’t like my decisions, don’t leave comments.

    But if I am moderating your comments, don’t try to circumvent my intentions by switching your email address or whatever. I look dimly on such efforts. I’ve never banned anyone from this site but I might do it over that just on principle.

    Also, anyone emboldened to be obnoxious by the anonymity that pseudonyms online allow should know that I will feel free to reveal email addresses and any other information available to me if I think such shaming might help to preserve order.

    Play nice, everyone. —Rennie ]

  30. jennifer says:

    “….know that I will feel free to reveal email addresses and any other information available to me if I think …..”

    go get em john. these misogynists need to know that.

  31. jackson says:

    everyone just being edited into oblivion now john or did they just have nothing to say. wither way, way to kill the thread.

    [As I noted previously, sometimes I put everything in moderation—for example, when I can’t monitor what’s coming in closely. And then I catch up. Spare me your empty concern for the state of my comment threads. —JR]

  32. thebewilderness says:

    “the fact that she was in a HOTEL bar is even more of reason to assume shes looking for some action. “

    No, jackson, it is not. Never assume that when a woman goes to a bar to drink and talk with friends that she is looking for some action with strangers. Apply a little logic to the situation and use occam’s razor. 99 times out of 100 a woman in the hotel bar drinking and talking with friends is there because she wants to drink and talk with friends. Srsly.
    You could apply this simple deductive tool to other social situations as well.

  33. Jennifer Ouellette’s blog used to have a link to mine, and on twitter, I told Jennifer Ouellette that I thought she had interpreted my blog incorrectly. In response, she accused me of making the article all about me, dismissed me out of hand, and then edited the article to remove the link. You’ll note that there is no indication of this post-publication edit in the blog, and I noted, with deepest irony, that only a few hours later, she tweeted a link about how to correctly cite blogs when posting.

    When someone displays such a lack of basic integrity, I’m afraid I can’t take seriously what they have to say about serious issues. Looking for proof – screenshots, etc. at my blog:

    • Normal Variation says:

      Jennifer, forgive me, since there’s no search function for the almost 300 comments its hard to doublecheck, but I don’t see/remember any Jennifers with last names listed participating in this discussion or being mentioned by name. If you are respoding responding to what The Bewilderness, Jackson, John Rennie, Luna, Jennifer (with no last name or intial), David Jones,Jake,ICOVMP, Horace or any ot the other commenters has posted in the past two weeks , could you please connect the dots for me. It seems like you are just plugging one blog and making accusations against another blogger, rather than having read or considered what anyone here has said.

    • John Rennie says:

      Concerning Jennifer’s comment and Normal Variation’s response, and any others that might be brewing: I approved Jennifer’s message because she was apparently responding to my having added a recommendation about Jennifer Ouellette’s post “Is It Cold in Here?” to the end of mine, and because she seems to want to note what she feels is a misrepresentation of her thinking that had been in that post for a while. That done, I don’t want to get into a further discussion of Jennifer Keane’s bringing her beef with Jen Ouellette here. No more on this, please. If Jennifer Keane wants to restate her actual arguments and open those up for discussion here, fine, but I’ll consider further discussion of Jen Ouellette’s piece to be off-topic. Thanks.

  34. Cara says:

    But what exactly is the principle that men hitting on women indiscriminately are defending: that their desire for sex trumps women’s rights to be left alone?

    THANK YOU. Sheesh.

    It’s almost as if some guys are terrified that if they don’t put a woman at an actual physical disadvantage they’ll never get a woman to talk to them and ohnoez ARMAGEDDON!!!!

  35. Pingback: Richard Dawkins: Skeptic of women? – Salon |

  36. The Beast Rabban says:

    Here is my big problem with Ms. Watson, who seems to have the emotional development of 3-year-old. It really doesn’t have much to do about the elevator situation which is rather benign to anyone sane. It’s how she comes across in her video.

    First off it’s a trivial matter and should be private. Second is in poor taste to belittle someone you have rejected (for whatever reason).

    Then when she talks about the incident she is addressing ALL MEN. What is she so frigggin’ hot no male can walk by her without making a pass at her? She’s not exactly a raving beauty. She also makes her point in the most snide and condescending manner possible. And what the heck is it with feminists and their constant need to be a victim of male oppression or sexism. It is never-ending with this twit.

    So you have a woman that is attempting to turn men into misogynists and then complains about misogyny. Go figure. 😉

  37. The Beast Rabban says:

    Actually sexism has nothing to do with it. You have to look at what motivates people, other than what their stated motivations are.

    So what motivates people? It’s base instincts, or biological instincts. It is important for women to feel that they are desirable, for biological reasons and also simply for ego. Hot guys ain’t hitting on Watson. It ain’t happening. She is bitter because of this and it comes out in her rather cold and pathological demeanor.

    • John Rennie says:

      You don’t know Rebecca. You shouldn’t pretend you do. You say you aren’t sexist and yet somehow you have dreamed up this fantasy about Rebecca as a sexually frustrated manhater, which just happens to be one of the standard sexist clichés about women who stand up to men or turn down their advances. Ahem: “You have to look at what motivates people, other than what their stated motivations are.” Does that give me leave to say you pretend to be insightful about human nature as a way of hiding how deeply confused and frightened of others you are, oh terrifying Beast Rabban?

      I apologize for the ad hominem, but that’s what your entire argument is: an ad hominem attack on Rebecca personally, discounting any legitimacy for what she’s saying or what she experienced, even though plenty of other women have validated her statements by saying they’ve had similar feelings in similar situations. And you are discounting Rebecca’s account entirely on the basis of your own unreliable perception of who she is and what she really thinks. Your comments are a joke, but they stopped being funny long ago.

      • Mikaal says:

        ‘You don’t know Rebecca. You shouldn’t pretend you do.’

        Same goes for the elevator man : You don’t know this man. You shouldn’t pretend you do. It concerns all of you and pitiful Watson.
        You have NO IDEA what he was going to do. Saying he’s an POTENTIAL SEXUAL ATTACKER is a great great overstatement.

        You guys and Watson are all making your statements, yet they are nothing but mere assumptions. Well then. Having this outta way why don’t you shut up already?

        She may have described how she felt like solely. Making assumptions and letting fantasy run wild is a domain of novel writers. Projecting her butt-hurt feeling onto all men is unfair,stupid, not rational and completely ‘unskepchick’.

        That’s what she’s being bashed for. Righteously, I might add.

        • John Rennie says:

          As I’ve already written: I’ve never pretended to know or understand Elevator Guy’s intentions. I’ve only commented on the effects of his actions.

          Casting this situation in terms of whether the guy is a potential sexual attacker—which I have never done—hopelessly clouds the issue. Anyone is a potential sexual attacker. The reason many women would become fearful if a stranger made a pass at them in an elevator at 4 a.m. is not because they think all men might be rapists: it’s because that individual man’s actions have given them reason to wonder whether he might be. That’s a big difference.

          (Similarly, anybody is a potential thief. When I ride the subway, I don’t regard all the other passengers as potential thieves but I know that thieves are out there, so I try to be watchful about suspicious activity. And if I see somebody reaching out toward my stuff, I am definitely going to wonder whether that person is a potential thief.)

          That’s what Rebecca’s complaint and suggestion were about. The point is not that hard to understand. I don’t know why you and others seem to feel you not only have to ignore the suggestion but to argue that you and others should be entitled to defy it.

  38. thebewilderness says:

    Rabban: “It really doesn’t have much to do about the elevator situation which is rather benign to anyone sane. ”

    An astonishing number of people have said this sort of thing regarding elevators and the men who use them.
    When high school juniors become Congressional pages one of the first things they are given is a list of men it is not safe to be in an elevator with. Daytime, nighttime, any time. While I wouldn’t try to assert that congresscritters and their aids are in any way sane, they demonstrate your error.

  39. The Beast Rabban says:

    Here’s a vid she put out recently. Actually at first I thought it was someone parodying her. Not sure what to make of it.

    • John Rennie says:

      It doesn’t seem too hard to understand. Rebecca is responding to the kind of vicious commenters that YouTube in particular tends to attract. As she says, many of them seem unable to mount coherent arguments against what she’s saying and instead have decided to mock her appearance.

      But really, I doubt you’re dumb enough not to understand that. So what point are you trying to make in bringing this up? Have the courage to state your opinion openly, scary Beast.

      • The Beast Rabban says:

        Looks like she’s trying to use some self-deprecating humor to try to quell some of the criticism.

        While there is no such thing as “bad publicity”, it seems she’s a bit flustered by all the negative reaction to her behavior. This comes from men and from a fair amount of progressive women alike.

        To be fair she had a few good one-liners. The one about all the internet users being sexy also with everyone they know. The one about her uni-brow reproducing asexually was good too.

        She probably has some talent it just might help her to come across as an empathetic human rather than someone who gets enjoyment out of belittling others.

        This character flaw is also a factor why a lot folks are put off her, other than the rabid feminist shtick.

        • John Rennie says:

          So I’ll issue to you the same challenge that I have jackson: quote me an instance of where Rebecca sadistically belittled Elevator Guy. Supposedly, her demeaning, over-the-top comments about him and the incident justified all the criticism (personal and otherwise) that she was blowing this out of proportion. If that’s the case, then point to examples of it so we can be specific. Then we can continue the conversation on a basis of facts about just how bad what she said was rather than making it sound like she tortured the guy. Justify your premise rather than trying to make some criticism of her character that may be baseless. Until you do, I’m not interested in what else you have to say.

          • The Beast Rabban says:

            Feminism and the athiest movement are really incompatible ideologies. …

            [Nope. I’ve asked you to justify your previous characterization of Watson’s comments about Elevator Guy as cruel with quotes and links, and I’ve already indicated that I’m not interested in your other arguments until you do. —JR]

  40. jackson says:


    you know RW. thats fine. but why should someone not knowing her not have an opinion on what she said in this situation,based only on that.

    you dont know dawkins or EG and yet you are bursting with opinions on them and all their intentions and personalities.

    maybe EG has been invited twice for coffee/sex in an elevator by women and accepted. so he does the same. maybe he has done it and they accepted. YOU dont know.RW doesnt know. yet you both are all preachy about how Men SHOULD be in quite a few circumstances.

    as i said last week, if i had known you and RW were friends i would have just ignored your opinion because your article is about validating/defending her and her actions. not about your objective opinion of a situation.

    • John Rennie says:

      jackson, you’re always so quick to find rationalizations for ignoring other people’s opinions and feelings.

      Look back on what I’ve written and I don’t believe you will see that I have speculated about the intentions or personalties of Elevator Guy or Dawkins. I’ve scarcely written about Dawkins here at all, and my comments about Elevator Guy have never been based on a projection of what he was trying to do, only on what the effects of his actions were. I’m more than happy to accept that he was most probably not intending anything bad toward her. That’s never been the point.

      The point was that, irrespective of his intentions, his advance under those circumstances made Rebecca uncomfortable; as many other women now have said, they, too, would be made uncomfortable. Rebecca then pointed out to the men in her audience who might be inclined to do what Elevator Guy did that it’s a bad idea because it probably would be perceived as creepy, which is presumably the opposite of the desired reaction. That was all she did.

      This whole incident has blown up because people took exception to Rebecca making that suggestion. People have variously said she had no right portraying all men as potential rapists, that she had no right to tell anybody (let alone men) what to do, that she was clearly motivated by hatred of men or sex, and that in making such a comment she is like all other women/feminists/manhaters. None of those responses logically follow except in the minds of people who have a strong sense of entitlement to do whatever they want regardless of its effect on others; in some cases, the entitlement is pretty obviously rooted in either sexist or broadly antisocial attitudes.

      Is it possible that something else causes people’s resistance to Rebecca’s argument (a resistance so great that in many cases it seems to prevent them from even understanding what she said)? Sure. But so far, when I’ve asked people to explain their reasons or when they’ve elaborated on their own, they seem to reveal sexist or scarily narcissistic attitudes.

      • jackson says:


        you seem to be saying that she began to FEEL “uncomfortable” (i really dont know what she means in this instance-does she mean fear of being attacked?awkward silence?) because he made an “advance”.

        if she FELT her safety was in jeopardy thats fine by me. i dont have a problem with her saying that in an elevator with a man the potential rape or beating makes her FEEL in danger. but to say that this feeling only began when he talked to her in a flirtatious way (which as i said earlier, he could have conveyed his message with eye contact) is annoying and is illogical. if she is prone to feeling this way with or without a conversation then talking about his “creepy” words is irrelevant.

        im sure shes been alone in elevators with men before. why didnt she let that guy just go up and she gets the next one before they even got on? you see my point? or better yet, and you have a BIG problem with this, what does she expect at 4am. if that hour is such a danger to her,she could avoid it.

        the thing that bothers me is her attitude about the whole thing. what person tells other people “dont act on your desire that im assuming you feel for me”. to you john thats perfectly acceptable. who even does that.

        then she basically roasts and humiliates this guys “loser-like” approach under the even more arrogant guise of “teaching” men how they SHOULD be, but all done in good faith because SHE is the “victim” of an unwanted blip of flirtation that she says made her feel like she was about to be raped, i assume, although “uncomfortable” could mean something different.

        then to talk about how some women are raped in elevators like it was imminent in her case, thats annoying john.

        would it be fair to say that his is her statement- “men of the world, do not flirt with a woman in an elevator or in a confined space because that might cause her to feel like shes about to be raped.”?

        if that is her point, it is illogical in many ways im afraid. he could just rape her without talking. she could “feel” in danger even if he does nothing. he could just talk to her when they get out of the elevator. he mightnt even be flirting with her and shes misunderstanding.

        finally john ill say this. you talk about him objectifying her and not respecting her as a person. had a woman done the same thing EG done you wouldnt be so condemning in your language. that standard helps no one.

        the INHUMAN response….. really. inhuman?

        • John Rennie says:

          I feel like I’ve been over and over these arguments with you and others, so it’s not worth it to me to do this with you again specifically.

          Instead, I’m going to challenge you to back up something you’ve said: that Rebecca “basically roasts and humiliates this guys ‘loser-like’ approach.” Your argument keep coming back to this idea that she hugely overreacted in some anti-male way. So prove it. Quote what she wrote or said that roasted or humiliated this guy and branded him a loser.

          None of her comments that I’ve seen fit that description. Give me specific citations of her denouncing Elevator Guy in harsh terms: not things that other people have said she said, or characterizations of her comments or interpretations of her comments. Quote some good examples of Rebecca attacking this guy and I’ll continue this conversation with you. If you can’t, then I’m not interested in anything further you have to say.

          • jackson says:


            why are you ignoring all my other points?

            ill paraphrase her…

            [No, no paraphrasing. I said no characterizations of her comments, only actual quotes. Her comments that elicited the criticism were public, and videos and transcripts of them exist. If you haven’t heard or read what she actually said, then you are taking other people’s word for it that she was cruel and humiliating. Come back with quotes that justify your position.]

  41. Jake says:

    Rabban she is talking to all men and making a reasonable request. Men hardly ever get raped so there’s a physical power deference between men and women. So even in a totally ideal equal world where women are 50% of the board rooms instead of 17% and men are never conscripted to die in wars just for having a penis. We still have to appreciate we have a power advantage and be gentlemen.

    • The Beast Rabban says:

      “Rabban she is talking to all men and making a reasonable request. Men hardly ever get raped so there’s a physical power deference between men and women. So even in a totally ideal equal world where women are 50% of the board rooms instead of 17% and men are never conscripted to die in wars just for having a penis. We still have to appreciate we have a power advantage and be gentlemen.”

      I’m certainly not condoning crass behavior on the part of men. but back to the elevator episode:

      EG could have be a “potential rapist” whether he propositioned Ms. Watson or not, so it safe to assume that fact that he asked her to coffee has no bearing on his potential to commit sexual assault.

      Let’s assume that I’m in a Dublin hotel elevator at 4:00 AM and Ms. Watson enters the elevator. Would be right or moral thing for me to do is leave the elevator so Ms. Watson would feel comfortable?

      Watson also made a follow-up video suggesting that socially inept males should have sex with a blow-up doll or a watermelon or flashlight, so I think it is fairly safe to assume that she is a manhater.

      • John Rennie says:

        Again: this discussion isn’t about whether EG is a “potential rapist” simply by virtue of existing. That argument is empty. EG made an unwelcome advance under circumstances in which many women would feel vulnerable and isolated. That doesn’t make him a potential rapist, but it does give women reason to wonder whether he might be, and that’s uncomfortable. So under the circumstances, the reasonable thing for a man to do is not make a pass at her—not only because it’s more comfortable for the woman but because it’s not self-defeating for the man.

        Let’s assume that I’m in a Dublin hotel elevator at 4:00 AM and Ms. Watson enters the elevator. Would be right or moral thing for me to do is leave the elevator so Ms. Watson would feel comfortable?

        It might be a considerate thing to do, but even that doesn’t matter because your hypothetical has nothing to do with what Rebecca suggested. She didn’t say that no man should get on an elevator with a woman at that time of night. She said that men should have the good emotional sense not to hit on women under those circumstances. She’s not asking the men to inconvenience themselves in any way; in fact, she’s giving them advice that could spare them the discomfort of embarrassed failure (in addition to sparing the women the discomfort of a potentially worrisome advance).

        Watson also made a follow-up video suggesting that socially inept males should have sex with a blow-up doll or a watermelon or flashlight, so I think it is fairly safe to assume that she is a manhater.

        Given your previously stated befuddlement at what was fairly obvious sarcasm in another of Rebecca’s videos, I don’t think your interpretations of what she says have much credibility.

  42. thebewilderness says:

    The odd thing about this is that no one is disputing mens right to act like creepy stalker doods. It is just a simple heads up that if you act like a creepy stalker dood most women will quite likely think you are a creepy stalker dood and they will be uncomfortable around you and not want anything to do with you.
    That stuff you see on teevee and in the movies is make believe. Yanno? It isn’t a how to on human interaction. More like a how not to.

  43. Lee says:

    No means no. That simple rule is both elegant and effective. In the case of Elevatorgate, it was adhered to. If she were simply asking this in her case, i.e. ‘guys, don’t do that to me‘, there would be little, if any, objection. This would be a statement of personal preference.

    However, she is not. She is making a request of all men on behalf of all women, and large numbers of both groups have expressed dissent. This dissent is met with charges of misogyny, dimwittedness, priviledge, and various other forms of sexism, racism, or just plain insult. She unfairly maligned another speaker at the event on this very issue, displaying the same tendency to exclusion and ridicule that just further polarizes the debate. She has declared that one of the most powerful proponents of freethought, someone who has been in the trenches of secular activism since before the internet even existed to host Watson’s vitriol, a ‘thing of the past’.

    Her fear of whatever it was that supposedly could have happened, and by extension her justification for this hurrah, is irrational in the main. The statistics better support fear of almost any other activity, than fear that a stranger is going to rape you in an elevator, in a packed hotel, in the middle of Dublin. Mumbai, perhaps; Kabul, possibly; Ireland…come off it.

    If she wants to be ruled by irrational fears, fine, it’s her life. That, however, does not validate an attempt to generalize all human behavior around her personal discomfort. Nor does it justify asking all men to behave as though they could be rapists, any more than fear of terrorism could justify asking all muslims to behave as though they could be terrorists. Even rational fears don’t justify discrimination.

  44. Jake says:

    Yes she was making a request of all men on behalf of herself. But it’s quite good advise to everybody. Sometimes we’re not always aware of how others feel and when that happens I welcome someone telling me. If someone is upset if I swear then I don’t. It’s not like these things are eroding my fundimental personal freedom, they’re no problem.

    • Lee says:

      “Yes she was making a request of all men on behalf of herself.”

      Nope. Not just on behalf of herself. On behalf of all women. That is the rub, here; no one is denying her right to her personal preference. She is making a sweeping generalization of both sexes, and to rephrase it as though she were just expressing a personal preference is simply miss the scope of her complaints.

  45. Jake says:

    What part of “Guys don’t do that, I don’t really know how else to explain how this makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable” is talking about all women?

    It’s pretty likely that after she was critiscised by Dawkins and others for saying that, she will have stood up for other women who feel the same as her. Some don’t, but until you get to know someone it’s best to err on the side of caution as we do with everyone we don’t know, and that’s how it effects all women. She’s saying get to know someone and find out if they desire you before making a sexual advance and if they take offence just apologise, and I can’t think why anyone wouldn’t want to..

    • Lee says:

      We’ll simply have to settle on disagreement, I’m afraid. Dawkins chimed in on Pharyngula, after the discussion had gained a head of steam and was careening out of control. Do yourself a favor, go read The Priviledge Delusion, and tell me how she is only referring to her private preferences in social situations. Let me know how that turns out.


      • Jake says:

        I might be wrong but she may have a rather old fashioned polarised almost stereotyped view of gender and people who identified as male resented her characterization of them in her later comments. I’m not speaking for her or agreeing with everything she says but her original request was reasonable. As to privilige, if we end the slut shaming of women who express desire we end male sexual privilage and then we can object to someone objectifying us :)

  46. VECT says:

    To be fair, Rebecca Watson wasn’t the worse offender in the hysteria explosion, and the immense after the fact trolling has been pretty bad, but she was definitely in the wrong. Yes, its ok to feel awkward. Yes, people should try not to make each other awkward. No, that a woman had an awkward experience does not prove the patriarchy. That a presumably drunk man hit on a presumably drunk woman means nothing if nothing happened, and nothing did happen.

    The worst irony of it all was when Watson strode around talking about how Dawkins couldn’t possibly understand, while Dawkins was sexually abused as a child and she has never been.

  47. John Rennie says:

    Well, it’s been a month now, and this post has had more than enough comments—far too many of them deeply disappointing. We’ll leave it at that.

    Comments are now closed.

  48. Sheryl says:

    Like everyone on Rebecca Watson’s side you are missing the point.

    For about the previous two month Rebecca had been on a role complaining about sexism in the atheist community. She went to conferences and steered the conversation all the time to how horrible the atheist men were and never gave any real evidence (she cited a few emails, but they were mostly from religious trolls). Time and time again she asserted that atheist conferences were hell for women, like some kind of sexist gulag, never really giving other evidence, just claiming that other unnamed women agreed with her (even when other women disagreed with her about how terrible the atheist dudes were, she simple dismissed them out of hand).

    So people were very hungry for an actual example of the actual “misogyny” Rebecca kept ranting about so they could consider and debate the situation, but when if finally came it was utterly pathetic. Of course she got jumped all over, rightly so.

    • John Rennie says:

      Can you back up any of those characterizations of Rebecca’s remarks with actual quotes? Because they don’t correspond at all to any videos or transcripts I’ve seen, or to my own experiences with Rebecca and her statements.

      Also, please note that although you say I’m “missing the point,” no one else has previously made your argument, which makes me suspicious of the idea that it’s really so central to the issue. It also doesn’t affect the broader issues irrespective of Rebecca that have been discussed.

    • Normal Variation says:

      Sheryl, it sounds like you haven’t even watched the video in which RW told the story! She didn’t offer her personal experience as proof of anything. She praised the behavior of all the men who had been taking her(long-time not just 2 months) concerns seriously and treated her as she asked. She presented the incident in a low-key way.
      You can make a case based on your own experience at skeptic or atheist conferences about how the small number of women there are treated(if you include/consider the reported experiences of perhaps more “exposed” or public attendees like RW and those first-timers so put off by unwanted advances they wouldn’t come back. And certainly you can argue against civility equal treatment, and respecting the sensitivities of others.
      All you’ve done here is to allege her intent without evidence when the very public evidence against your charge was front & center from the start. It was easily available.
      Maybe you are relying on second and third hand accounts which focus on RW’s statements in response to all the attacks on her after she responded to Dawkins? If you are “tardy to the party,” you might not be aware that his very personal ridicule of her mild concern in the incident was the first “rant” (as you call it). I use quotes because I got the word “rant”from your post. Your style of exaggeration and sarcasm reads like a parody of the excesses of ridicule the individual rather than offer logic or facts. Putting words into other people’s mouths as you do when they have clearly spoken for themselves is not debate. It is lying.

  49. Pingback: Islam, Feminism, Humanism « grey lining

  50. Maurizio says:

    How did you go from picking up girls in the elevator to racial and gay marriage issues????
    I enjoyed the reading despite that stretch…

    • J U says:

      The original article contains this example.

      And if you read the comment all of them also make the automatic assumption that it is 100% sure, was a hit on.

      I also must state, that if we ever hear the guy, and if he said, that his primary intent was to pick up her, not to talk to her. I would immediately apologise.

      However regarding the FULL text: “Don’t take this the wrong way. But I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee.” This is unlikely.

      If I want to hi on somebody, I would say, I would like to know about you more, not talk more.

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