Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Take on "Elevatorgate"

Here's the recipe:
One atheist girl ventures into the male-dominated realm of atheism and gives a talk that includes a bit about not liking being treated as a sex object.

Add one atheist boy who has no idea that after you see the atheist girl give a talk you may feel you know her a little but she doesn't know you from ... uh... Adam.

Put them together in an elevator late at night.

Stir in one ill-conceived pick-up line in which geeky boy invites geeky girl to his hotel room. 

She says no.  He shrugs.  She blogs about the irony of being sexualized right after giving a talk about not liking being sexualized.  Boys who could have been him blog that it's no big deal.  Girls who could have been her blog that it is too a big deal.  A few atheists who have actually had sex weigh in.  A few men who imagine themselves equal to atheists who have actually had sex put their foot in it because they think that watching porn has taught them what they need to know about how to pick up women in elevators.

Then a big dick stirs the pot.

The pot boils over.

Oh what fun!

Here's the funny part:  most of the people who are frothing at the mouth over this actually know a little about evolution.   Some have even studied evolutionary psychology - you know, the science of why we have courtship rituals instead of using rape to further the species and how we differ from bonobos or chimpanzees.

Our courtship ritual involves approach and rejection or approach and reciprocation.  We all know that.  Why is it such a big deal that 1) a man approached a woman and 2) the woman rejected the advance?

Apparently, it needs to be spelled out.  As a student of krav maga and veteran of the dating scene in a big city, I am going to explain it to the clueless among you.  (You don't know who you are!)

Mating is a highly dangerous activity.  Both parties have to feel safe for it to be consummated, and if one party doesn't feel safe it's just not gonna happen unless the other party is a rapist.  Men, if you don't know this already:  approaching a woman you don't know is a threatening act!  DUH!  She doesn't know if you're a rapist or a Don Juan or Mr. Perfect.  You have to show her she can trust you before you invite her to your boudoir!  ALL women except perhaps "special" ones should assume strange men are potential rapists.  "Better safe than sorry" is a kind of evolutionary version of Pascal's wager.

Further, most men do understand this.  Asking a woman to your room out of the blue is just plain stupid and indicates that either 1) the man is just plain stupid or 2) the man thinks the woman is just plain stupid.  Men, this should be your last move, not your first one!  So right there, Rebecca was absolutely correct to think something was very wrong.  Going to someone else's territory would have put her in a very vulnerable position.  She was already away from home, so her own room was barely a sanctuary for her.

It's actually been demonstrated that women have a harder time identifying a rapist than men do.  Rapists' success comes from giving the appearance they are as safe as non-rapists in order to gain trust (think Ted Bundy).  They can also be successful by trapping a woman in a vulnerable place (such as the serial killers who attack prostitutes).  And in case we forget that some men are rapists and murderers, we have the news (formerly called "gossip") to remind us.  Notice that nobody ever finds naked men in ditches or ponds.  If there aren't enough real life rape-murders to remind women how vulnerable they are, we'll make up stories and call them "Criminal Investigation" or "Law and Order."

85-year-old woman getting mugged in an elevator
When in danger, we have a "fight or flight" instinct.  If you are in an elevator, you can't run away!  DUH!  If you are diminuitive and inexperienced in fighting, and you are in an elevator with someone bigger and stronger and potentially experienced in fighting, you are fucking doomed.  That goes for scrawny men, too.  Elevators are vulnerable places.  This is why there are security cameras in many of them.  It is also why people with normal social manners don't start conversations in elevators.  Nobody wants to have anything to do with anybody they don't know when they're in a tight space.

This happened late at night, and night time is dangerous for humans.  We don't see well at night and we don't react well at night.  If you are out late at night and someone wants to mess you up, you're kind of screwed just because of that.  Your brain is swimming in melatonin, and possibly alcohol.  Even if you could run away, could you take that first step before you get grabbed?  Could you run faster than your attacker?  Probably not.

Add to this the fact that she was an invited speaker at this event.  This is an honor and she no doubt felt flattered to have her THOUGHTS valued at the type of event where women tend to be in the minority.  If I had been in her shoes, I'd have been on a kind of high, feeling respected and perhaps admired, and if talk went well, competent.  Afterward she probably had a lot of engaging conversation with other attendees, which would elevate the buzz a notch or two.  And then moving instantaneously from that feeling to "Hey, piece of meat, let's get it on" (Not what he said, but what she heard) would be even more jarring than it normally would be ... in an elevator in a strange city in a strange country late at night with nobody around to help you.

My conclusions (based on my experiences and insight):
  1. Atheist gatherings need more women in attendance to teach clueless men how to behave!
  2. Being an atheist doesn't render one any more or less capable of doing something really stupid.
  3. Being a scientist doesn't make one particularly smart about male-female relationships.  Possibly the opposite!
  4. Being taken seriously for your opinions about atheism doesn't mean that people of the opposite (or even same) sex won't also find you attractive.  Again, possibly the opposite!
  5. She should be congratulated for merely being insulted and then blogging about the experience.  He's lucky she doesnt' know krav maga!
  6. Atheists disagree about things.  We only really agree on one thing, which is actually a non-thing.  Everything else is up for debate.
  7. Women are correct in assuming that all men are potential rapists until proven otherwise.  It's in our DNA to protect our DNA.
Yes, it's de rigeur for everyone to blog about this.  I didn't want to feel I'd missed the bandwagon.  If you have blogged about this, feel free to link to it in the comments section.

And p.s. about that krav maga video, I've learned all those techniques except for the last one, so if you meet me in an elevator, keep the conversation above the neck, m'kay?

59 comments:

LadyAtheist said...

p.s. here's an excellent feminist take on the situation: Isis the Scientist

Infidel753 said...

Between cluelessness, immaturity, and poor social skills, yes, guys like this are out there. I'm surprised how often I see sniggering, suggestive comments by male commenters on women's blogs (usually by trolls, not regulars). And no, no segment of the population is totally lacking in clueless guys. They're probably proportionately fewer among atheists and scientists (just due to higher average intelligence) than among the general population, but never zero.

I'm not sure if Dawkins was just misinformed about the details of the incident, or posted without thinking. Everybody is sometimes wrong, even him.

But believe me, most guys do understand this stuff. Unfortunately, given the sheer number of people that any one individual interacts with, it only takes 5% of guys to be clueless twits for women to end up feeling besieged.

LadyAtheist said...

If you take the Aspies out of the mix, you're probably right in general, but then consider that women are a minority in the sciences, so men don't get the same kind of interaction they do in other fields. It would be like being a woman in auto mechanics or computer programming.

Dawkins was right that women in Western civilization have it better than women in the middle East and Africa, but he was wrong to suggest harrassment is harmless.

I'm just amazed at the cluelessness of it. I hope a few guys are getting an education out of this.

Lord Victor 'Bones' Bishington said...

Agree with you 100%. This whole situation is quite strange to me; my freethinker group is pretty much an even-split when it comes to gender, if not more females than males, so I have very little perspective on the problem (and so I thank you for articulating it so well).

In the general issue of women feeling uncomfortable at male-dominated atheist meetings, I think there may be another factor that may exaserbate the issue (beyond men being slobbing cave-men). Here in Australia, the proportion of Christians who take their belief seriously enough to avoid getting into a relationship with an atheist would be tiny in comparison to the US. As such, it makes sense why atheist men would always hit on any female who comes to their meetings; simple lack of prospects.

I say it makes sense, but it is still wrong.

LadyAtheist said...

Yep, religion is a dealbreaker for a lot of people. I think it goes both ways. I would be reluctant to get into a relationship with a fundy and where I live that significantly cuts the prospects.

I used to go to an atheist meet-up in DC. There was never more than one other woman there, and sometimes I was the only one. I dind't feel uncomfortable, though. The guys were pretty nice and the conversation stayed on atheist topics. I'm not in my 20s though, so my perception might be a little skewed. After 30 come-ons drop off precipitously!

Bud said...

Blog entries like this one are why you are one of my absolute favorite bloggers. Thank you!

LadyAtheist said...

Awww shucks!

Avicenna said...

Dawkins was attempting internet sarcasm. The internet is the worst medium for sarcasm since the only way to convey sarcasm is through turning it upto 11. Subtle sarcasm does not translate.

Infidel753... On the contrary, there would probably be MORE silliness. See atheism has for a long time been a man's club. Primarily due to the excess of men in science. Only biology has a equal proportion of the genders. Chemistry and Physics are male dominated. Medicine is female dominated worldwide but many female doctors do not practice and the science in medicine is lacking IMHO these days (there is no skeptical view taught. Ben Goldacre is a rarity these days)

This means that most "new" female atheists tend to come from a biology background. While most male atheists come from all walks of science particularly ones where they don't have much contact with women.

There is the added problem of current masculine culture. See if you cannot cause a woman to swoon within minutes by sheer machismo, witty conversation and popping fresh dance moves then you are not a proper man. You are literally treated like a loser. You as a man are bombarded with imagery of this.

I know, I had to put up with this growing up. You seriously are made to feel inadequate. You seriously don't realise that it's confidence that makes it work. And I have seriously had people stand up and say "eww, who would dance with someone ugly like you". It's not a lone incident in my formative years. It took me years to say "I may be ugly, but that can be cured by surgery. You however are shallow and kind of a dick and there is no cure for that!".

After fucks were not given confidence came. For a time I was miserable at women for being stupid. Until I realised that women were stupid for the same reason men are stupid at that age. Because they assume at 16 to 20 that only beautiful people have anything to say. That and I finally worked up the courage to shave my head (okay... got rugby tackled, held down and shaved by my friends).

This may seriously be a case of something similar. Poor self esteem mixed with desperation makes you do crazy things. I should know. It's been 2 years since my last date (due to living in a 3rd world nation rather than the UK) and frankly the negative thoughts are there.

Oh and I have dated people who believed in God. It's not a problem if both of you realise that it's not important.

krissthesexyatheist said...

I haven't read too much about 'it', I just know 'it' happened. Didn't the incident happen at 4am. Coach always said, "go home at midnite, nothing good happens in the early morning hours."

and...you know the Israeli self defense system derived from boxing and judo. That makes me heart you more...and I already did. So awesome buddy.

Kriss

LadyAtheist said...

Avicenna, don't forget the former clergy who are now atheists. I haven't heard of any nuns or female pastors jumping ship. I bet there are a lot of closet atheists amongst pastors' wives, unless cognitive dissonance is powerful enough to keep doubt at bay.

Girls get the "you're too ugly for me (despite my obvious flaws)" crap too, and then after 30 we are too old for them. I try to assume I am also too mature for them but it's still not a good feeling.

Kriss, krav maga is awesome. I have only used it once on the street and that was against a female aggressor. My school was run by a woman and very un-sexist. The men were really squeamish about defending against women, but there are crazy women out there! We learn that we don't defend against the person - we defend against a threat. If a gun is the threat we go for the gun. If hands are the threat, we go for the hands.

cl said...

The Muslim comparison was fallacious, but, from what I've read, I'm actually *with* Dawkins. So what? A female atheist speaker apparently got hit on. Big deal. Did the guy hurt or physically threaten her? Not from what I've read. It's not all too often I side up with the Dawk, but in this case, he's right: quit whining, unless some real transgression has occurred.

Avicenna said...

Cl, there is a difference between hitting on someone in a club and hitting on someone outside one. In a club my my sexy dances which are both popping fresh and bootylicious need to be employed. However if I choose to use such a method in say... an elevator I would be considered a lunatic.

Similarly asking people if they want to have sex under the euphemistic terms of "coffee" is best saved for the club rather than the confines of an elevator. It is there where you utilise charm to strike up a conversation and hope that she would be interested in a date rather than a random one night stand.

Using the inappropriate method of talking to women in the inappropriate place will result in your plans going up like "el fuego grande".

Dawkins made a sarcastic comment. He failed at it. And honestly that logic doesn't fly. Just think of it this way. If you went to a restaurant with sub standard service and say... a cockroach in your food, you would complain right?

What rights do you have to complain? I know people who would kill to have cockroach laden food because it's better than "no food at all".

You only worry about problems in your sphere of understanding. This is a problem in the western feminist sphere of understanding. The best they can do for muslim feminists is flag waving. They cannot fight the battles for women halfway across the globe.

Do you think the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia cares about women protesting in London against them? Nope. It doesn't. What it does care about are the actual real women deciding to throw down and make a fuss.

LadyAtheist said...

I wonder how Dawkins would have responded if they guy *had* been a rapist.

Something being not-so-bad in hindsight doesn't say anything abou the proper response in the moment.

And who knows? The guy might really have been a rapist who would have waited until he had her in his room to attack her. We never know when something we do or say protects us from harm, only when we make a mistake that's costly.

Dawkins wasn't correct to denigrate her feelings in the matter. The choice of who to spend time with in vulnerable places is a life-or-death matter. How an evolutionary biologist can't recognize that is beyond me.

I know that good men get insulted every day because we women have to protect ourselves from bad men. It's a shame that it has to be that way, but it has to be that way.

cl said...

Avicenna,

"In a club my my sexy dances which are both popping fresh and bootylicious need to be employed."

No, they don't. It is possible to successfully approach women in a club without dancing at all.

"However if I choose to use such a method in say... an elevator I would be considered a lunatic."

Well sure, but did this guy break out popping fresh and bootlicious dance moves in the elevator? Unless he did, your remark is irrelevant.

"Similarly asking people if they want to have sex under the euphemistic terms of "coffee" is best saved for the club rather than the confines of an elevator."

Why? Because you say so? Do you have any empirical evidence for your claim? Or, are you just presenting your own opinion as some sort of fact?

"Using the inappropriate method of talking to women in the inappropriate place will result in your plans going up like "el fuego grande"."

Who's the arbiter of "appropriate" here? You? Or, any the women who wouldn't mind being hit on in an elevator [given a suitable suitor]? Surely you're not suggesting there's never been a woman who accepted an approach in an elevator, right? If you are, then add that to the list of false claims you've already made.

"Dawkins made a sarcastic comment. He failed at it. And honestly that logic doesn't fly."

Since I've already stated my belief that Dawkins "Muslim woman" comparison was illogical, what's your point? So far as I can see, your point boils down to you thinking the man acted inappropriately, but no cogent argument or evidence has been offered to sustain that position.

Lady Atheist,

"And who knows? The guy might really have been a rapist who would have waited until he had her in his room to attack her."

Certainly. Similarly, who knows? Maybe he was just another horny guy who saw a woman he thought was attractive, approached her, and respected her decline? From the evidence I've been exposed to, it sounds like that was the case. That's why I think Dawkins is right to call Watson's tirade "whining."

"The choice of who to spend time with in vulnerable places is a life-or-death matter. How an evolutionary biologist can't recognize that is beyond me."

I don't think Dawkins fails to recognize that. All he did was use sarcastic illogic to demonstrate a point: the man didn't harm Watson, or anybody else for that matter. Sure, Dawkins could've eschewed sarcastic illogic in the interest of cogency, but that he didn't doesn't entail Watson is correct. The man who hit on her appears to be just another guy who hit on a woman he found attractive, which, as I'm sure you'll concede, is strictly in accord with his evolutionary wiring, right?

So where's the harm?

Lord Victor 'Bones' Bishington said...

Cl
"Similarly asking people if they want to have sex under the euphemistic terms of "coffee" is best saved for the club rather than the confines of an elevator."

Why? Because you say so? Do you have any empirical evidence for your claim? Or, are you just presenting your own opinion as some sort of fact?


Actually, from the general pyschology perspective, hiding your propositions is much more social acceptable. The reasoning is that, strictly speaking, both parties know what is meant by the comment (no one assumes that going back for coffee will be just coffee), but disguising it allows both parties to feel less awkward when rejection occurs in comparison to a blunt proposition (read Steven Pinker's 'The Stuff of Thought' for a good overview of the whole thing).

That being said, some people do prefer blunt honesty (I'm one of them), but yeah, after reading that book, I understand and even sympathise those who prefer the subtle approach.

LadyAtheist said...

cl

"Maybe he was just another horny guy who saw a woman he thought was attractive, approached her, and respected her decline? From the evidence I've been exposed to, it sounds like that was the case. That's why I think Dawkins is right to call Watson's tirade "whining." "

You miss the point entirely -- 1) she didn't "whine," she just blogged about how she didn't appreciate the come-on and 2) women HAVE to assume a stranger making an awkward move is a potential rapist and killer because we're vulnerable to rapists and killers in a way that men are not. Dawkins (and you) have no clue what it's like to go through life wondering if you're talking to Ted Bundy or Mr. Perfect.

A vulnerable person should always err on the side of caution.

And men should be aware that women live with this fear day-in-day-out and stop belittling it.

cl said...

Lady Atheist,

"You miss the point entirely -- 1) she didn't "whine," she just blogged about how she didn't appreciate the come-on "

You miss the point: complaining when no real harm has been committed is whining.

"women HAVE to assume a stranger making an awkward move is a potential rapist and killer because we're vulnerable to rapists and killers in a way that men are not."

That's irrelevant. The question here is whether the guy did anything that warrants complaining about it. If all he did was proposition her while respecting her dismissal, he didn't do any hard to anybody. He didn't do anything wrong. In fact, he was just reacting to his evolutionary wiring, and also showing respect by being tolerant of her dismissal.

Again: show me the wrong. Show me the harm this man did.

Anon E. said...

Actually, from an evolutionary standpoint, the reason we have courtship vs rape is because of sexual selection where the female is the selector, much like in other species. The female has one egg to use and can't waste it on an ill-suited suitor. She must choose the male that will produce the best, strongest and most promising offspring. Males on the other hand have enough sperm to have sex and reproduce with as many females as he pleases, not worrying about ovulation or 9 months of pregnancy. SO he behaves as such, not having to select, but work to be selected.

Now what you are showing that women don't understand is that men do understand how to respectfully approach a woman and if he is really interested in you, will pursue you honorably. A man who approaches you like in the elevator is either being purposefully a jerk or has social/mental issues. He is not Representing of all men, but of himself

We are also social creatures, so not wanting to talk to people in elevators, or especially at night has more to do with how we are socialized to view the situations than biology.

"Women are correct in assuming that all men are potential rapists until proven otherwise. It's in our DNA to protect our DNA"

Simply not true. Men are not naturally rapists. Rape has been shown to be about power not sex (that is, about the social, not the biological) Your #7 statement is, no offense, a pretty unfair statement. Women are programmed nearly at birth by society to take a submissive approach to life, to view men as threatening and to feel defenseless in such situations as you've presented. I think the elevator instance only proves, if anything, that because women are socialized to fear men (especially in awkward situations like a lonely elevator) some men will take advantage of it to cause a lasting shock.

cl said...

Anon E,

I tend to agree with your criticisms here for the most part, but when you say,

"A man who approaches you like in the elevator is either being purposefully a jerk or has social/mental issues."

...I can't help but wonder why. On my view, the manner in which this man approached her is the issue, not the fact that it occurred in an elevator. It seems to me that you're making the same mistake as others here: assuming that simply because the courtship took place in an elevator, that some real transgression has occurred. Is that what you're saying? That the geographical location of "elevator" is what makes the man's courtship inappropriate? If so, why? Can't a man respectfully court a woman in an elevator?

LadyAtheist said...

"Now what you are showing that women don't understand is that men do understand how to respectfully approach a woman and if he is really interested in you, will pursue you honorably. A man who approaches you like in the elevator is either being purposefully a jerk or has social/mental issues"

...which is pretty much what I meant when I said "Further, most men do understand this. Asking a woman to your room out of the blue is just plain stupid and indicates that either 1) the man is just plain stupid or 2) the man thinks the woman is just plain stupid"

You are also misunderstanding this: "Women are correct in assuming that all men are potential rapists until proven otherwise. It's in our DNA to protect our DNA"

Simply not true. Men are not naturally rapists....

We all know that 99.999% of men are NOT rapists but we don't know which ones ARE. We can't TELL. We have to play Pascal's Wager here - the consequences of being wrong are so horrible that we would rather let an awkward but nice guy go than take a chance he might be a rapist. We can choose later from amongst the other 99.98% who will have better social skills and let us get to know them before they put the moves on us, but if we make a mistake and get killed there's no second chance.

Throw in the context, like early morning, a strange city, and a confined space, and caution is definitely called for.

Anon E. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anon E. said...

CL-

The way I worded that/my grammar may have sounded confusing I meant:

A man who approaches you in such a way, like in the elevator incident, is either being purposefully a jerk or has social/mental issues

cl said...

Anon E,

"A man who approaches you in such a way, like in the elevator incident, is either being purposefully a jerk or has social/mental issues."

That's a false dichotomy. When a man approaches a woman in an elevator, there are more options to explain the behavior than "purposefully a jerk" and "mental/social issues." The man might simply be attempting courteous, respectful courtship. It is fallacious to assume that simply because the courtship occurred in an elevator, that only those two options apply.

Lady Atheist,

"We all know that 99.999% of men are NOT rapists but we don't know which ones ARE. We can't TELL. We have to play Pascal's Wager here - the consequences of being wrong are so horrible that we would rather let an awkward but nice guy go than take a chance he might be a rapist. We can choose later from amongst the other 99.98% who will have better social skills and let us get to know them before they put the moves on us, but if we make a mistake and get killed there's no second chance."

Well that seems silly. After all, aren't a significant subset of rapists confident men who know exactly how to play the game without coming across as awkward? So why is it "taking a chance" when the guy is awkward? Can't it be "taking a chance" when the guy is suave? In fact, if I were a woman, I'd probably be equally (if not more) concerned about the suave guy. So, what you're saying doesn't really make any sense, and you have yet to show the harm this man committed.

Anon E. said...

well, I see what you are saying, but if we know that 99.9% of all men AREN'T rapist, then women are in fact INCORRECT in ASSUMMING that all men are potential rapists because that hypothetical statistic shows that practically ALL men aren't rapists and that only a few are. You may want to play Pascal's Wager, but if you play the rules of probability your assumption that all men are potentially dangerous is unjustified.

LadyAtheist said...

It may seem silly but it works. We don't let ourselves be put into a vulnerable position with strangers if we can help it. A stranger who happens to be awkward is probably a nice guy... but we want social graces in Mr Perfect anyway. So it's a win-win. We don't waste time with someone who can't get along in society, and we don't make ourselves vulnerable to someone who could be dangerous.

Anon E. said...

CL,

"That's a false dichotomy. When a man approaches a woman in an elevator, there are more options to explain the behavior than "purposefully a jerk" and "mental/social issues." The man might simply be..."

No I clearly said (the second time) " in such a way, like in the elevator incident"

The man in the elevator as described by Lady Atheist did not courteously approach the woman he directly said, in so many words, Hey piece of meat, let me eat you" perhaps in a oversexualized socially inappropriate manner.

cl said...

None of you have shown that this man did anything wrong. It seems to me Watson is just being hypersensitive.

Anon E.,

"The man in the elevator as described by Lady Atheist did not courteously approach the woman he directly said, in so many words, Hey piece of meat, let me eat you" perhaps in a oversexualized socially inappropriate manner."

How do you figure? Have a look at the source:

http://skepchick.org/2011/06/about-mythbusters-robot-eyes-feminism-and-jokes/

All he said was, "Don't take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting, and I'd like to talk more. Would you like to come back to my hotel room for coffee?" No foul language, no explicit sexual innuendo... I mean it'd be one thing if he was like, "Damn baby, you're so fine, wanna come back to my hotel and do it like they do it on the Discovery Channel?" Then, yeah, I'd say the guy might be a little rude and/or socially inept. But given the clearly diplomatic approach, why automatically assume the man is a stalker? She even mentioned that they'd had previous conversation. It's not as if this man was some odd stranger lurking in the shadows. Most of all, his disclaimer is consistent with courtesy: he specifically told her *NOT* to take it the wrong way.

Added Irony: on her own blog, Watson has an ad for "Bad Idea" T-shirts, which features a tanned blonde in a sexually provocative position, cleavage spilling and all. This makes it a bit more difficult for me to take Watson's clarion calls against objectification seriously. How should we interpret that?

Lady Atheist,

"It may seem silly but it works. We don't let ourselves be put into a vulnerable position with strangers if we can help it. A stranger who happens to be awkward is probably a nice guy... but we want social graces in Mr Perfect anyway. So it's a win-win. We don't waste time with someone who can't get along in society, and we don't make ourselves vulnerable to someone who could be dangerous."

Again: what did the man do that was wrong? Show me the wrong.

LadyAtheist said...

He should have asked her to his room before they got into the elevator.

Elevators are vulnerable places.

Also, even if nothing he did was wrong, she has the right not to like it. She also has the right to get tired of being propositioned instead of being talked to like a person who has a mind.

cl said...

Lady Atheist,

"He should have asked her to his room before they got into the elevator."

Do you have any empirical evidence that would justify your positive claim? Or, might this just be an opinion presented as fact? Surely your argument is founded on something logical and/or coherent as opposed to, "Simply because Lady Atheist says so," right?

On your view of "morality," a woman can kill her own offspring for no good reason other than that she wants to, but if a man politely propositions a woman in an elevator, that's someone inappropriate. I mean, can you see why I'm scratching my head here?

Lord Victor 'Bones' Bishington said...

Cl-

""He should have asked her to his room before they got into the elevator."

Do you have any empirical evidence that would justify your positive claim? Or, might this just be an opinion presented as fact? Surely your argument is founded on something logical and/or coherent as opposed to, "Simply because Lady Atheist says so," right?"


While I can't speak on Lady's behalf, the reason I could see would be that an elevator is a more threatening environment for rape/assualt potential. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think there was a studying that showed that even people who do not report being claustraphobic get a stress response in elevetors (i.e. galvanic skin response). While they may not be consciously aware of it, I'm sure they would be more on edge than if they were standing on the side of the street, and as such, may percieve the proposition in a more threatening way.

Hell, I even feel a little threatened when someone asks me for the time/tries to make conversation in an elevator (more so because it is such a rare occurence that when it does happen, it makes me think something is off about the person but I think the location would add to it).

"On your view of "morality," a woman can kill her own offspring for no good reason other than that she wants to, but if a man politely propositions a woman in an elevator, that's someone inappropriate. I mean, can you see why I'm scratching my head here?"

That argument doesn't really fly; in my ethics, abortion isn't a wrong because it doesn't harm an entity that is worthy of the same moral consideration as an adult human being (I assume Lady Atheist has a similar view). The ethical system is internally consistent (at least in this situation). It only seems inconsistent from your external view (where the fetus is given the same moral consideration as an adult).

I apologise if that is not your view of the abortion issue; my main point is simply that it isn't an inconsistency in our ethical system.

cl said...

Lady Atheist,

"...she has the right not to like it."

We're in 100% agreement there. However,

"She also has the right to get tired of being propositioned instead of being talked to like a person who has a mind."

True, she has that right, but didn't you listen to the source? Did she not say this man was amongst the remnant at the bar conversing with one another? Didn't the man remark that Watson "had some interesting things to say," which is a direct appreciation of her mind?

Hell, take it a step or two further, like any decent cross-examination would: do we even have reliable evidence this man was heterosexual? Perhaps he was gay? Perhaps he was straight but celibate? Perhaps he had some other motive than getting in her pants? Perhaps he really wanted to make some sort of business or publishing offer?

I mean, isn't it reasonable to suppose that the more assumptions one's argument makes, the greater the potential for error? You have to assume an awful lot to get to the conclusion of "misogynist" or "objectification," don't'cha think?

Also, I'm really curious to hear your opinion of the aforementioned blatant objectification on Skepchick?

cl said...

Bones,

"Correct me if I am wrong, but I think there was a studying that showed that even people who do not report being claustraphobic get a stress response in elevetors (i.e. galvanic skin response)."

I just spent a few moments Googling and didn't turn anything up. Why don't you look into it and get back to us?

"While they may not be consciously aware of it, I'm sure they would be more on edge than if they were standing on the side of the street, and as such, may percieve the proposition in a more threatening way."

Who's "they"?

"Hell, I even feel a little threatened when someone asks me for the time/tries to make conversation in an elevator..."

So? I don't. I actually find it a welcome challenge to the otherwise droning monotony of an aloof culture.

"...in my ethics, abortion isn't a wrong because it doesn't harm an entity that is worthy of the same moral consideration as an adult human being..."

Classic. I guess if you say so, eh?

Lord Victor 'Bones' Bishington said...

"I just spent a few moments Googling and didn't turn anything up. Why don't you look into it and get back to us?"

I can't seem to find it either. I believe it was something someone told me in an undergrad psychology course. But yes, as I can't find the actual source, we'll leave it at that (that is an admission of error on my part).

"Classic. I guess if you say so, eh?"

Well, yes and no; in that, it is my system of ethics so it is based on what I think, but no in that I did not just arbitirily decide to exclude embryos/fetuses.

However, that is extremely off-topic and beside the point I was actually making. You expressed amazement at how Lady Atheist could consider this incident to be a problem when she doesn't consider abortion to be a problem. The issue with that is that, under her ethical system (and mine), abortion isn't a problem. You are looking at her ethics through the lens of your own, concluding that it is wrong in yours, then expressing amazement as to why she doesn't see the contradiction, even though there is no contradiction within our ethical system.

Whether you agree with our ethical system or not is irrelevant; you should be able to understand why we don't consider abortion to be an issue, but this to be (though, I don't think I think I consider it as big a problem as Lady Atheist might).

Avicenna said...

Cl... You obviously have not see how awesome my dance moves are...

The clothes people wear has no bearing on how you should treat them. Also they are Rebecca's sponsors and control the advertisement not her. Also the entire point is women can dress in what they feel like. |

Want to know the biggest irony? Women who dress like cartoon prostitutes are less likely to be raped than women in burkhas. The entire point of a woman chosing what to wear is that it's a choice. Why should they dress down because men are being retarded.

And yes, both genders sexualise each other. You obviously have not seen the effect of attractive men on women. The way you dress does have an effect and there is only so far a t-shirt and jeans will carry you.

For all our statements of inner beauty we forget that the people who champion inner beauty tend to be stunningly beautiful and thus don't really have a sane opinion on the matter. For the most part men like women and vice versa. What we constitute as "sexy" varies.

Some women are quite happy to date men who are smart and funny as their main characteristic. Others deal with men who are incredibly pretty. There isn't a cohesive attractive stance for either gender. It varies.

As for abortion. The human being is considered viable at 24 weeks. Our line in the sand is by human viability. Your line in the sand is arbitrary.

By your own value of human life, today you have killed close to 4 million potential people. Every time you have sex you kill more people than you create. Every woman may be a murderer what with all those eggs that don't turn into people but every man is a genocidal douchebag...

Oh what? Sperm isn't alive? It moves, it breathes, it respires, it replicates in specific ways. Why should we draw the line at conception as some magic personhood if we are discussing potential.

Late term abortions are done to save the mother or in cases of incest and rape. It's a tragedy but it's a necessary one. It's a final blow to worse problems.

Ultimately abortion is necessary to maintain society in a healthy state. Do you have any idea how much it costs to care for a child with a genetic or a congenital disorder? There are 30 to 40 common disorders that can be detected via ultrosonography and terminated to stop individuals being born with diseases.

It keeps the population stable, it ensures women are a solid work force. It actually keeps other children healthy. Do you think poor people can afford to care for 2 or 3 or 7 or 8 children? Sure you can put them up for adoption but frankly there are more children in the adoption system than parents seeking adoption. There is literally no option.

It is okay to ask women if they want to sleep with you. The man was polite enough for that. It is however not okay to do so in the inappropriate place. If he had tried to chat her up in a pub or a bar the result may have been different.

I still think he should have lead with a dance though

LadyAtheist said...

cl, good manners are what we're talking about here, not scientific studies.

Does one really need "empirical evidence" about elevators being vulnerable places? Puh-leeze.

I'm not responding to any more of your posts because you clearly just don't understand women and you have no interest in seeing things from a woman's point of view.

cl said...

Lady Atheist,

"I'm not responding to any more of your posts because you clearly just don't understand women and you have no interest in seeing things from a woman's point of view."

Nice ad hominem accusation. Why don't you grow up and think clearly instead of trying to sling mud at somebody for simply trying to understand what appears to be a twisted mess of illogic?

"Does one really need "empirical evidence" about elevators being vulnerable places? Puh-leeze."

Yours is a truth claim about the real world, right? Surely you're not going to imply that only religious people need empirical evidence when making truth claims about the real world, right? Wouldn't that be another double-standard, much like the one you invoke to allow atheist the right to insult while simultaneously denying Gideon the right to insult back?

Yeah, a subset of people feel uncomfortable in an elevator. Big whoop. Another subset doesn't. So what's your point?

You remarked about "being propositioned" vs. "being appreciated for one's mind," then I showed how the man's comment was consistent with appreciating Watson for her mind. Where's the problem?

Your argument seems to boil down to, "The guy was wrong because he did something and someone else felt uncomfortable in response." Well, guess what? We could apply the same "logic" to all sorts of things where you'd disagree. For example, calling people who think differently than you "nutters" might make them feel uncomfortable, yet, you forge right ahead on that path when it suits you, right? So where's the consistency?

You see, I understand women quite well. I don't understand extremism, in any form, and it seems to me that illogical extremism is a factor in much of the hoopla concerning "elevatorgate."

I was thinking you could show me how that's *NOT* the case, but apparently, you don't have any logical arguments that could explain it.

cl said...

Avicenna,

"Also they are Rebecca's sponsors and control the advertisement not her."

No, she controls whether or not the advertisement is there. She could draw a line and say, "Unless you refrain from placing ads which objectify women on my blog, I don't want your services." After all, that's exactly what she's done with her Dawkins boycott.

"Want to know the biggest irony? Women who dress like cartoon prostitutes are less likely to be raped than women in burkhas."

I thought you said you preferred empirical evidence? Be consistent, please.

"And yes, both genders sexualise each other. You obviously have not seen the effect of attractive men on women."

How the hell would you know? Again, you're just generalizing about someone you've never met. Doesn't that strike you as problematic?

"As for abortion. The human being is considered viable at 24 weeks. Our line in the sand is by human viability. Your line in the sand is arbitrary."

You appear to be badly confused on what "arbitrary" means.

"It is okay to ask women if they want to sleep with you. The man was polite enough for that."

Uh, HELLO... he didn't ask her if she wanted to sleep with him. He told her he liked what she had to say, and invited her to further discussion over coffee. Why do you continue to distort the facts?

"It is however not okay to do so in the inappropriate place."

Why? Because you say so?

Avicenna said...

The ads on her page consist of Project Wonderful and Queerweaver. No T-Shirts...

A pretty woman selling clothes is not objectifying women. A pretty man selling clothes is not objectifying men either. Both men ad women are attracted to sexy people. Unlike my peers who claim that they aren't shallow, I like pretty people atleast to look at.

Rebecca Watson is not a lunatic. The objectification of women is how you treat women in a field. Modelling is a field solely designed to encourage pretty people. It's a qualification. I will never be a model, not until the day, chubby hairy bald guys are considered sexy by everyone not just a certain section of the gay community.

Rape is so endemic and acceptable in most of the nations that it's not reported. The punishment for being raped in many muslim countries is worse than the crime and honestly there is no anti rape support in large parts of Africa. Even in the west the rate of rape reporting seems to be highest in the UK at 55%. In addition in most of the developing world marital rape is not considered rape and bringing charges against rapists is a lot harder when they are your own family members. Only 10% of rape (including drunk/drug based rape) is by strangers, the remaining 90 is by family members and friends. Nearly half of rapes are by husbands and boyfriends and women simply think they cannot prove their guilt. In many nations it is considered shameful to air such dirty laundry. In some countries the report rate is so low that it's laughable.

Are they seriously suggesting that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has such a low rape rate? Women are considered little better than property. Remember touching women on public transport is a sex crime, in Japan it is regarded as so common that it's not even reported as a crime anymore.

That women drool over sexy men in the same way that I drool over sexy women? It's called being a human being. The people who say they are solely into people for intellect are liars. They see some standard of beauty.

24 weeks is when the lungs have developed and a ventilator is not required to survive. 95% of foetuses born at 24 weeks survive to be healthy children. In contrast at 20 weeks (The heartbeat test thing) the infant has no functioning lungs. The mortality rate is 95%. In the survivors the morbidity rate for severe mental retardation is 95%. It's a physiological limit of sorts.

When I was 18 and walking around the USA, I was stuck in Vegas buying supplies for a trip into the Grand Canyon. I was planning to walk it. So at some point I have a night out on the town. I acquire some new friends and proceed to drink and dance the night away. As I am walking home with one of the ladies of this group, she asks if I want some coffee. I thought "why not? It's a fair walk for me back to my hotel." So she pops into the shower while I put the kettle on and make two cups of coffee. As I am done she calls out to me and I appear in her living room to find her dressed in her knickers while I am holding two cups of coffee like some sort of caffeinated retard.

The invitation for "coffee" at 4AM is a euphemism. British people who wish to speak to you rather than fuck would use the term "tea". Tea is serious, coffee is a euphemism. The crumpets involved are different for starters.

Actually because women say so. If a woman tried hitting on me in say... my work place, I would consider it grossly inappropriate. Women do get some say in that.

And yes because I say so. Honestly, things like this give people like me a bad name. I have to put up with so much crap because other men don't even have the basic common sense to behave like decent human beings around women.

cl said...

"The ads on her page consist of Project Wonderful and Queerweaver. No T-Shirts..."

They rotate.

"Rebecca Watson is not a lunatic."

Did I say she was?

"Rape is so endemic and acceptable in most of the nations that it's not reported. The punishment for being raped in many muslim countries is worse than the crime and honestly there is no anti rape support in large parts of Africa. Even in the west the rate of rape reporting seems to be highest in the UK at 55%. In addition in most of the developing world marital rape is not considered rape and bringing charges against rapists is a lot harder when they are your own family members. Only 10% of rape (including drunk/drug based rape) is by strangers, the remaining 90 is by family members and friends. Nearly half of rapes are by husbands and boyfriends and women simply think they cannot prove their guilt. In many nations it is considered shameful to air such dirty laundry. In some countries the report rate is so low that it's laughable."

None of that is relevant to any claims I've made. Worse, you don't include any evidence. You just expect me to take your word for it.

The rest of your comment is just more of the same -- unsubstantiated opinion. We might as well just leave at that, unless of course you have any evidence for your claims that this man did something inappropriate. For all you know he could have been genuine.

dougreardon said...

I was on an elevator late one night, in the distant past, with a woman who pushed the stop button, grabbed my crotch, and kissed me. She invited me to her room. I declined as I was going back to my room and my wife, but I was pleasantly taken aback, and felt complimented. I guess we all react differently in different situations.

LadyAtheist said...

Yep, men and women are different. A guy will feel complimented. A woman would feel terrified.

cl said...

Lady Atheist,

"A woman would feel terrified."

You mean, some women would feel terrified. I'd even grant you that most women would be terrified. There exists, however, a subset of women who would not be terrified. You might want to try generalizing less, IMHO. Or, maybe not.

LadyAtheist said...

I think the majority of women would feel terrified. Or at least they'd feel very very offended. A teeeeensy minority would be flattered. They probably have an STD so you shouldn't bother with them anyway.

AllStevie said...

I'm really sick of hearing how stupid/inept/bumbling Elevator Guy is. I don't see it. The man did nothing wrong.
"'Better safe than sorry' is a kind of evolutionary version of Pascal's wager." - So... you're advocating Pascal's Wager?
"'Hey, piece of meat, let's get it on' (Not what he said, but what she heard)" EXACTLY. Not AT ALL what he said. Nothing CLOSE to it.
Since you generously asked, here's my blog post: http://welcometostevieville.blogspot.com/2011/07/yet-another-elevatorgate-post-from.html?spref=tw

LadyAtheist said...

Thanks for the link.

Being cautious about where you place yourself and who you get nekkid with is a valid use of Pascal's wager. The consequences of being wrong are dire, but real. I have known a woman who got raped and then stabbed 23 times and left for dead in an alley by a "nice" guy she met in a bar. I have personally left bars with nice guys who turned out to be nice guys. We all know that both possibilities exist, and guys should also be aware that we are constantly doing threat assessment.

I believe women should trust their instincts, and if they aren't sure, we should say "no" to placing ourselves in vulnerable positions (like a guy's hotel room).

If a woman is so trusting that she'll go anywhere with anyone, she may be in for a hard lesson some day.

psihspaarnis said...

Now, what does krav maga have to do with this, if unlucky guy steps back after being rejected lady suppose to beat "attacker" up anyway or what? Actually it has nothing to do with subject itself, it's just author trying to play cool, isn't it? 8D
And yes, guys may be better at detecting potential rapists, not because men are smarter, but because something strange and alien in maniacs make other men feel uncomfortable.

LadyAtheist said...

In krav maga we talk about closed spaces, checking for exits, being aware of surroundings etc. as well as the actual physical skills. Perhaps my school emphasized that more than some others, but it is a self-defense course not a martial "art." Part of self-defense is paying attention to your instincts - if you find something or somebody creepy, go with that feeling. Hurting the feelings of a nice guy is a small price to pay.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the constant reference to men as "clueless" are productive. It's sexist and insulting. To refer to women as clueless, or hysterical, or bad drivers, is, of course, rightly condemned. But, for some reason to sully men with blanket statements of being clueless is o.k?

Moreover, disagreement does not mean men are "clueless." Many women have agreed with the anti-Skepchick position. Are they "clueless?" Or, perhaps, do they just hold a different view on the topic.

Just because someone disagrees does not mean they don't "get it." We get it. Some of do, anyway. And, some of us who "get it" still disagree.

Lord Victor 'Bones' Bishington said...

"I don't think the constant reference to men as "clueless" are productive. It's sexist and insulting. To refer to women as clueless, or hysterical, or bad drivers, is, of course, rightly condemned. But, for some reason to sully men with blanket statements of being clueless is o.k?"

Personally, I didn't take it that way; I took it as saying there are a subset of men who are clueless, not that men as a whole are.

Tis the difference between "clueless men" and "men are clueless"; one is definitely including all men, the other isn't necessarily (and in the context of the time it has been used, is not used in that way).

LadyAtheist said...

Anonymous, the "clueless" ones are those who utterly fail to see things from a woman's point of view. That is certainly not all men, and I don't think the women on the web are "constantly" referring to all men in those terms, just those who deserve to be called "clueless."

Sky Diver said...

The misandry here is off the charts. How is physical violence an appropriate response to getting hit on? Imaging if the roles were reversed. Would you ever recommend a man hit a women because she hit on him?!?

LadyAtheist said...

I wouldn't touch a guy who didn't touch me first.

It's not misandry to know that women need to be mindful of what men are capable of and to assess a situation to her best interest without regard for whether the guy's feelings might be hurt.

The WHAM Burglar said...

How about the "clueless" subset of women, who want to make a big deal about a guy asking a woman out and calling it harassment?

Perhaps all of us "potential rapists" should avoid "harassing" you poor ladies all together. At least the "clueless" ones.

LadyAtheist said...

Or at least don't follow us to a hotel elevator at 4 a.m. to make your move

The WHAM Burglar said...

Here's the thing. This guy was more than likely trolling her. He heard her talk about how being asked out at these conventions offended her, so he sought to get her goat. And he did. She made a spectacle out of it that made his trolling pay off more than he could have imagined.

Otherwise, it was a very socially awkward guy who was legitimately interested in her. Socially awkward guys will try to get a girl alone to ask them out, not to creep them out, but so no one is around when they get rejected, so the humiliation is limited to two witnesses.

So I will turn this around to you ladies. Except for the minority who are lesbians or asexual, most of you probably want men to approach you at times. So how should it be done so you wouldn't be offended?

LadyAtheist said...

If you have no experience with women at all, then the best bet is not to approach a woman you don't know well, especially when there aren't other people around. Also, do it BEFORE she has announced that she's going to bed, like a few hours before bedtime. If she has announced that she's going to bed, don't follow her to an elevator and wait until you're alone with her to invite her to your territory, unless you're immune to mace.

Don't approach a woman at all in an elevator. Don't even talk to her at all. Don't talk to men in elevators, either. Nobody wants to talk to strangers in an elevator. Most people who know each other don't even talk in elevators. Unless you grew up on a farm you're expected to know that.

Don't come on to a woman who is away from home, especially if she's in a foreign country. If she's in her comfort zone then that's okay. Even better if she has friends around her.

If you are so introverted that you really have no experience of talking to the opposite sex, then never EVER approach a woman you don't know. Your inexperience may make you appear creepy rather than gawky.

If you don't undersstand how extremely inappropriate Elevator Guy was, then try talking to women without any ulterior motive, like for about a year, until you get to know something about what women are like.

Talk about safe topics, like the weather or whatever put you in the same space together. Don't invite her to go anywhere with you until you've been talking for like 3 hours. Then, invite her to someplace neutral, not your room. Inviting a woman to a coffee shop for coffee at 3 p.m. is fine. Inviting her to your room for "coffee" at 4 a.m. is extremely creepy.

Jim said...

He made a mistake, big whoop. Not something I would do. Also, Jeet Kune Do>Krav Maga! :P

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is the best post on this topic I've read!... and I thought I had read them all, but I now realize that reading them all would be a full time job.

I found myself laughing out loud a couple of time reading this post.

I guess Dawkins is still a bit too full of himself to apologize for his insensitive initial statement without which, this incident would long since have faded into history.

I can't imagine any rational person taking Watson's comments re this incident as anything other than the perfectly reasonable dating advice for clueless males that it was.

Anonymous said...

I'm a straight man who sometimes gets hit on by gay men. It has happened late at night, in isolated areas. I'm not physically imposing, and many of them could overpower me if they wanted to. But as long as they accept "no" for an answer, I just brush it off. If, on the other hand, I was to post a video saying "Gays, don't do that" and accusing them of sexualizing me, I suspect I would get roughly as much hate mail as Rebecca Watson, but far less support from feminists.