Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Commentary on and links to religion or atheism in the media
bipedalhumanoid
Posts: 2675
Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 1:55 pm

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Post by bipedalhumanoid » Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:54 am

funkyderek wrote: Agreed. It's an emotive issue and the division seems to fall largely along gender lines.
Where's your evidence of that?

I'm seeing comments going either way from both men and women. Rebecca Watson first started talking feminism at the convention as a rebuttal to a woman (Paula Kirby). The later reactions, including that of Richard Dawkins and PZ Meyers were sparked when Rebecca Watson rebutted another woman (Stef McGraw). PZ Meyers is a man taking Rebecca Watson's side and Richard Dawkins is a man taking the opposing view. Where is this gender divide?
"The fact of your own existence is the most astonishing fact you will ever have to face. Don’t you ever get used to it." - Richard Dawkins... being shrill and offensive again I suppose.
funkyderek
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 373
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:54 pm
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Contact:

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Post by funkyderek » Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:05 am

bipedalhumanoid wrote:Where's your evidence of that?

I'm seeing comments going either way from both med and women. Rebecca Watson first started talking feminism at the convention as a rebuttal to a woman (Paula Kirby). The later reactions, including that of Richard Dawkins and PZ Meyers were sparked when Rebecca Watson rebutted another woman (Stef McGraw). PZ Meyers is a man taking Rebecca Watson's side and Richard Dawkins is a man taking the opposing view. Where is this gender divide?
On reflection this may have been my own prejudices coming through. Reading the comments it's often hard to see who's male or female and I probably subconsciously assigned each poster a gender based on their opinion. It does seem that the majority of the posters on Pharyngula are male and that both male and female posters have a variety of nuanced opinions, but I think that the more extreme views (i.e that the guy did nothing wrong, or that he was a sexual predator) are mostly held by people of the "expected" gender. I haven't systematically checked this though.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Image

Image Image Image Image
Feardorcha
Atheist Ireland Member
Atheist Ireland Member
Posts: 1266
Joined: Fri May 01, 2009 4:28 pm

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Post by Feardorcha » Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:27 pm

On a point of information: was the man in the lift a stranger or had he been at the conference and in the bar up till that time. Had he been in conversation with her prior to heading for the lift?Did he leave the bar at the same time as Rebecca and in her company or was he just another guest at the hotel?
Byron
Atheist Ireland Member
Atheist Ireland Member
Posts: 53
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 7:17 pm
Location: Cork/Borris/Dublin
Contact:

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Post by Byron » Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:23 pm

Rebecca has just posted a response to the whole thing.

http://skepchick.org/2011/07/the-privil ... epchick%29

I'm a tad irked by some of her comments to be honest.
Ygern
Atheist Ireland Member
Atheist Ireland Member
Posts: 3003
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2008 1:02 pm
Location: Cork
Contact:

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Post by Ygern » Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:52 pm

It's an emotive issue and the division seems to fall largely along gender lines.
Nope, it really doesn't. (check out photo to the left for gender)
I am hugely unimpressed by the fallout over this incident.

I have no problem with someone feeling uncomfortable with the "4AM elevator incident". I don't even have a problem with someone expressing their discomfort with it and publicly asking for people (okay, let's be honest: men) to be more thoughtful before making a move like this.

But I am honestly disgusted with how this has degenerated into a sob-fest of epic proportions where an embarrassingly large number of women (and men for that matter) seem to think that males have to second guess everything they do for fear of offending women. One of the far-too-many blog posts on this non-issue actually had a discussion running on how "good" men would cross over to the opposite side of the street if they saw a lone woman walking so as not to unduly upset, offend or disconcert her. I also resent the fact that this is used as "evidence" of prevalent sexism in the atheist community. It is nothing of the sort.

Point 1: Feminism is NOT about how to treat all women as helpless victims - it was supposed to be about equality. If this is what it has resulted in, then it's been a massive fail.
Point 2: This used to be a community that was proud to say that no-one had the right to insist that they should not be offended. Now suddenly it seems that some people do have the right to not be offended, and anyone who takes the contrary view "doesn't get it" and is automatically wrong, no questions asked.

I expect men to treat me as an equal; not as a pathetic victim who potentially cannot cope with anything that life throws at me that isn't entirely in my favour.
Tulip1
Atheist Ireland Member
Atheist Ireland Member
Posts: 1529
Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 1:07 pm
Location: Sligo

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Post by Tulip1 » Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:57 pm

I was just a bit confused by this comment: "Maybe they could wait for her to make the first move, just in case."

in this paragraph:
And I got messages from women who told me about how they had trouble attending pub gatherings and other events because they felt uncomfortable in a room full of men. They told me about how they were hit on constantly and it drove them away. I didn’t fully get it at the time, because I didn’t mind getting hit on. But I acknowledged their right to feel that way and I started suggesting to the men that maybe they relax a little and not try to get in the pants of every woman who walks through the door. Maybe they could wait for her to make the first move, just in case.
Is that not the doing the same then? I am not sure what she ment by this. Is that a short comming in my english?

And good post ygern!!
Pope says atheists pick & choose their morals. Correct. Today I will be frowning on child abuse & not having a problem with homosexuality.
Feardorcha
Atheist Ireland Member
Atheist Ireland Member
Posts: 1266
Joined: Fri May 01, 2009 4:28 pm

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Post by Feardorcha » Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:33 am

Says it all Ygern. +1
ocallaghanbohrdt
Atheist Ireland Member
Atheist Ireland Member
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Jul 23, 2008 10:39 pm

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Post by ocallaghanbohrdt » Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:39 am

ygern +1

At the Dublin conference Rebecca took her time on the panel to
a) criticise Paula Kirby, the previous speaker (who had just given one of the better talks, and whom I had particularly come to hear);
b) lecture me and the other men there on how not to behave towards women - (on what grounds? because some comments on her blog were occasionally lewd. Well surprise surprise - the internet is open to all sorts of people);
c) define women's role position so narrowly that another woman had to object that it excluded her.

I made a note at the time that she was blurring the difference between sexism and normal human sexuality. I frankly resented that she was largely off-topic (atheism), and apparently on her own hobby horse. I'm not surprised that the topic has popped up again in her corner.

Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

And what 's with the 'chick' in Skepchick? (More blurring? or I'm showing my age).
Beebub
Atheist Ireland Member
Atheist Ireland Member
Posts: 1014
Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 1:22 pm

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Post by Beebub » Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:49 am

Ygern +1

Thanks for that comment Ygern. I was reticent about even starting a post on this and about suggesting that I thought Dawkins had a point. I freely admit that he chose his words very badly, but it doesnt take away from the possibility that he had a point.

Firstly she suggested that it was because he did it on a lift where she said it was in a lift 'with me and just you', but then she said that he did it
right after I finished talking about how it creeps me out when men sexualise me in that manner and everybody else got it.


So she was definately equating what he did with the issues she raised in her talk with threats of rape, being told to shut up and getting explicit and graphic sexual advances by e-mail from men who thought she might like it.

Was it not acceptable for Dawkins to question this?

Then she suggested that it was becasue he hit on her at an athiest convention:
And I got messages from women who told me about how they had trouble attending pub gatherings and other events because they felt uncomfortable in a room full of men. They told me about how they were hit on constantly and it drove them away. I didn’t fully get it at the time, because I didn’t mind getting hit on. But I acknowledged their right to feel that way and I started suggesting to the men that maybe they relax a little and not try to get in the pants of every woman who walks through the door. Maybe they could wait for her to make the first move, just in case.
Is it any wonder that I'm confused?

Now she's being a little disingenuous in her latest blog where she says:
and I said, “Guys, don’t do that.” Really, that’s what I said. I didn’t call for an end to sex. I didn’t accuse the man in my story of rape. I didn’t say all men are monsters. I said, “Guys, don’t do that.”
But that's not all she said as her quote from the vlog above shows.

Now she's calling for an all out boycott of everything Dawkins. Is this not an over reaction?

Her skepchick site is all about thinking critically and questioning things, but we evidently can't ask questions on this issue.

This is the main reason I'm dissappointed with the sorry affair. It means that on this issue at least, we can't have a discussion on it, we can't question.

I also feel a bit sorry for the dude at the centre of it, assuming by now he's aware of the shitstorm surrounding him.
nozzferrahhtoo
Atheist Ireland Member
Atheist Ireland Member
Posts: 1140
Joined: Thu May 29, 2008 8:17 am

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Post by nozzferrahhtoo » Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:49 pm

I think I am with most of the opinion here in that I am intensely disappointed in how all the sides have acted here. I decided from the very outset it sounded like a storm in a tea cup so I would not even follow it. However someone told me the recent summary about it from Watson was concise, well written and clear so I thought I would delve in and read it. http://skepchick.org/2011/07/the-privilege-delusion/

I found myself agreeing with everything she wrote right down until she started talking about the current incident. At that point I read for the first time her issue, Dawkins’ response, and how it affected her.

To be honest I am disappointed in both of them. I am disappointed in Dawkins for being AS belittling as he was with his “Dear Mulima” letter, even though his general point was sound enough. I am disappointed in Rebecca for completely missing the point he was making too within that over done pseudo letter.

She said of him that:
So to have my concerns – and more so the concerns of other women who have survived rape and sexual assault – dismissed thanks to a rich white man comparing them to the plight of women who are mutilated, is insulting to all of us.
And I see nothing of that in Dawkins words at all. The only concern he was dismissing was this single concern, of this single one isolated incident. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else. His dismissal of that single concern is because of the concerns of those who have survived rape, assault and mutilation. He is not just recognizing those concerns (which Watson claims he is not), but in recognizing them he is simply saying “The incident in the elevator was not… relatively speaking… all that bad really”.

So was he overly dismissive of Rebecca? Yes. Very much so. Has Rebecca taken what he said however and interpreted it almost 100% backwards. Yes, alas also very much so.

This whole storm in a tea cup is nothing more than a failure of communication between two adults. Possibly fueled by Watsons past experiences which have all built up and now the straw on the camels back was one of her heroes being overly dismissive of one isolated incident. She ever says herself that
so I grow angrier. I knew that eventually I would reach a sort of feminist singularity where I would explode and in my place would rise some kind of Captain Planet-type superhero but for feminists.
Clearly she has felt a cumulative rage... most of it justifiably so... but has snapped at the wrong time, at the wrong person, for the wrong reasons. Personal insults and talk of each boycotting the other and all is just a tantrum and nothing more and makes neither of them look good in this.

It just goes to teach us that adults mis-communicating, missing each others points and/or acting like children, is no more unlikely an event in the atheist community or skeptic community than anywhere else.

The only question now is how much more likely is it that people in the skeptic community having done that… are able to denude themselves of the desire to save face, will approach each other with hands outstretched…. and admit where each was wrong and get on with life…. and act like a guiding light for the rest of us that ego is much less important than re-establishing discourse every single time.
Post Reply