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Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Posted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:13 pm
by Byron
It's also worth reading this, a post by Stef McGraw, the student that Rebecca openly criticised at the CFI Student Leadership Conference during her keynote speech and while Stef was in the audience. It's what got it all snowballing in my opinion.


http://www.unifreethought.com/2011/06/f ... ef-33.html

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Posted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:33 pm
by Beebub
It's highly unlikely we'll hear any more on the subject from Dawkins, which is a pity.

I've been trawling through the various blogs etc. and so far I've one found the two comments made by Dawkins on PZ's blog. Are these the only contribtutions he's made to the debate?

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Posted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:00 pm
by funkyderek
Ygern wrote:Nope, it really doesn't. (check out photo to the left for gender)
OK, it looks like I was wrong on that. Knowing someone's gender does not seem to be of much predictive value in determining how they will think on this matter.
I am hugely unimpressed by the fallout over this incident.
Personally, I find it fascinating. The signal to noise ratio is depressingly low among commenters but there have been some really interesting blog posts and comments, and I find myself, for the first time I can recall, disagreeing substantially with Richard Dawkins.
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.
Agreed. Rebecca's original comment seemed to me to be exactly right. It was a friendly if slightly exasperated reminder to men to consider how they behave towards women.
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.
I don't know whether it's just the nature of internet arguments but in real life opinions seem to range from "He probably shouldn't have done it, but no biggie" to "He really shouldn't have done that, it's not cool at all" whereas on the internet it seems to go from "He did nothing wrong, you feminists just hate men and sex" to "He's a sexual predator and should have his balls cut off".
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 don't really have a problem with that. I try to be conscious of the fact that women do not like to be followed by strange men, and will go (slightly) out of my way to avoid the impression that I am following someone. I don't mind a minor inconvenience if it makes people less likely to think I'm a rapist.
I also resent the fact that this is used as "evidence" of prevalent sexism in the atheist community. It is nothing of the sort.
Agreed. As with most issues, it's clear that a whole spectrum of opinions can be found within the disparate atheist community. However, it's also apparent that a lot of women have felt uncomfortable - have been made to feel uncomfortable - by the behaviour of male members of this community. I believe that addressing this situation would be of benefit to the whole community. It's to nobody's advantage to scare women away.
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.
Equality does not mean treating women like men. It means giving equal values to the rights, needs and interests of men and women. And that - among other things - means recognising that women are physically weaker than men, and have a justifiably greater fear of being sexually assaulted.
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.
It's not about having the right to behave in a certain way. Nothing that Elevator Guy did violated anybody's rights. He has the right to continue to behave in this manner even knowing that it is likely to offend, upset and terrify women. But he can't exercise that right and expect to be thought of as a decent guy. He can only do it if he's willing to be labelled a creep and an asshole.
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.
Good. I consider women to be equal to men and hope that I always treat them accordingly. However, the unpleasant fact is that, as a woman, coping may entail avoiding situations where you are likely to be attacked. Knowing this, it's rather rude of me to put you in such a situation, or to unnecessarily cause you to believe you are in such a situation.

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Posted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:03 am
by bipedalhumanoid
funkyderek wrote:Agreed. As with most issues, it's clear that a whole spectrum of opinions can be found within the disparate atheist community
Yes, but we're usually a community that prides itself on being able to discuss and debate such differences of opinion without resorting to bullying tactics, logical fallacies, catch phrases, outright dismissiveness and outright dishonesty.

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Posted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:35 am
by leo
I have to say this whole incident has made me feel very uncomfortable as a female in the "skeptic" community. (Lazy username choice - I'm female)

In the past I have always felt equal in the skeptic community. It has been a place that gender is not an issue. Arguments are evaluated logically. I really hope that doesn't change after this incident with Rebecca.

Dawkin's response was far kinder to her than Pz's. It's a shame she can't see that.

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Posted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:08 am
by Feardorcha
Just curious: Where is this skeptic community to be found and also the atheist community which is mentioned by serveral posters in this debate? Is everyone who is an atheist assumed to be a member or does it have a more formal designation? Can one be a member of both the skeptic community and the atheist community or are they mutually exclusive?
Maybe the word is changing or it is a computer word meaning those who visit atheist forums. As I hate to be out of fashion, I would love to know.


Put not your trust in princesses!

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Posted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:01 am
by Beebub
funkyderek wrote: Rebecca's original comment seemed to me to be exactly right. It was a friendly if slightly exasperated reminder to men to consider how they behave towards women.
Except it wasn't. She's now trying to pass it off as such, and PZ also suggested that this is 'all she did', but she clearly likened what they guy did to the nasty stuff she deals with on a regualr basis; threats of rape, being told to sit down and shut up and getting explicit and graphic sexual advances.

Was Dawkins not entitled to question this, even regardless of how tactlessly he did it?

Was it fair of her to liken this guy to the types mentioned in her talk?

She's not done yet either. She now wants people to write letters to RD:

http://skepchick.org/2011/07/dear-richa ... epchick%29

In the words of a character from the long forgotten TV comedy stech show The Mary Whitehouse Experience:

'Milky milky'

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Posted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:08 pm
by funkyderek
bipedalhumanoid wrote:Yes, but we're usually a community that prides itself on being able to discuss and debate such differences of opinion without resorting to bullying tactics, logical fallacies, catch phrases, outright dismissiveness and outright dishonesty.
Well, if nothing else, we've learned that we're not all like that, or at least not all the time. I think part of it might be because there's no right answer here - this is after all an issue of etiquette, cultural norms and perception - and atheists and skeptics are more comfortable dealing with issues of hard facts.
The intransigence on both sides is surprising given that it really seems like the better viewpoints cluster towards the middle. Again, this may be symptomatic of the skeptical mindset, as I think we tend towards not giving any ground to our opponents, but it's also a feature of debates in general. It's difficult to argue passionately about a minor difference in viewpoints, so there's a tendency to exaggerate the differences.
Feardorcha wrote:Just curious: Where is this skeptic community to be found and also the atheist community which is mentioned by serveral posters in this debate? Is everyone who is an atheist assumed to be a member or does it have a more formal designation? Can one be a member of both the skeptic community and the atheist community or are they mutually exclusive?
Maybe the word is changing or it is a computer word meaning those who visit atheist forums. As I hate to be out of fashion, I would love to know.
A community can be "A group of people having a religion, race, profession, or other particular characteristic in common" (sixth definition from Google's dictionary) so I think atheists and skeptics, especially those who interact either in real life or online, fit this. The communities overlap as most people come to atheism by being skeptical. The differences are largely about focus.
Beebub wrote:Except it wasn't. She's now trying to pass it off as such, and PZ also suggested that this is 'all she did', but she clearly likened what they guy did to the nasty stuff she deals with on a regualr basis; threats of rape, being told to sit down and shut up and getting explicit and graphic sexual advances.
Here's exactly what Rebecca said:
“...all of you except for the one man who didn’t really grasp, I think, what I was saying on the panel, because at the bar later that night, actually at four in the morning, we were at the hotel bar. Four a.m., I said I’d had enough, I was going to bed. So I walk to the elevator, and a man got on the elevator with me and said, '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?' Um, just a word to wise here, guys, uh, don't do that. You know, I don't really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I'll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4:00 am, in a hotel elevator, with you, just you, and--don't invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner..."
I'm struggling to find anything unreasonable about her comments here. I don't think she intended to say it was as bad as some of what she has had to put up with, just that it was at least somewhat bad, and anyone who had paid attention to what she had been saying all day should have known how she'd feel receiving such a proposition.
Was Dawkins not entitled to question this, even regardless of how tactlessly he did it?
Entitled? Absolutely. But I think he's wrong that Rebecca had nothing to complain about, and incredibly insensitive to phrase things the way he did, when it was obvious that this was something Rebecca and other women clearly felt so strongly about.
Had I been told that Dawkins disagreed without having read exactly what he wrote, I would have imagined something eloquent about Rebecca's pattern-recognition technique being over-sensitive resulting in false positives due to priming by genuine threats. Instead, we got a disappointly insulting and dismissive piece.
Was it fair of her to liken this guy to the types mentioned in her talk?
To the extent that she did, I think so. His behaviour was inappropriate, and it was so because he viewed her primarily as a sex object. He did not take into account her stated desires, nor did he consider her feelings.
She's not done yet either. She now wants people to write letters to RD:

http://skepchick.org/2011/07/dear-richa ... epchick%29

In the words of a character from the long forgotten TV comedy stech show The Mary Whitehouse Experience:

'Milky milky'
I think that's a bit harsh. Dawkins doesn't get it. He's read Rebecca's point of view and hundreds of comments on Pharyngula and he still doesn't get it. The letters are an attempt in consciousness-raising. Maybe someone will be able to make him see why such behaviour would be likely - hell, virtually guaranteed - to make a woman feel uncomfortable. I would suggest reading them if you haven't already done so. They provide some helpful perspectives.

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Posted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 4:14 pm
by Beebub
funkyderek wrote:I'm struggling to find anything unreasonable about her comments here. I don't think she intended to say it was as bad as some of what she has had to put up with, just that it was at least somewhat bad, and anyone who had paid attention to what she had been saying all day should have known how she'd feel receiving such a proposition.
But you left out the vital final few words of what she said, which were
and everybody else go it
Meaning because he did what he did, he didn't get it. Because if he did get the issues she was discussing he wouldn't have hit on her. Therefore she was equating what he did with the nasty stuff she said she experiences. I don't think that fair of her.

Had she left it at, 'don't do that guys, it makes me feel uncomfortable', I wouldn't have a problem with it. The fact that she demonised him and equated him with the categories of people in her talk, to me was unfair.
I think that's a bit harsh.
You may be right. It doesn't mean my point is without validity. She certainly knows her audience and calling for an all out boycott of everything Dawkins including books and talks he's participating in, to me is over the top.

The nice thing about this discussion is that we can have it. This is not the case on the other fora and blogs on the subject. Most if not all dissenting voices are shouted down. I came across a new term on these blogs used by Rebecca and others, which is 'mansplain'. Several men with dissenting voices on the topic have been thanked for 'mansplaining' the situation to them. It's not a term which endears me to them on this issue.

Re: Rebecca Watson v. Richard Dawkins

Posted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 5:21 pm
by Byron
And now Dawkins has been sent a letter by survivors of sexual assault. The ridiculousness of this knows no bounds.

http://almostdiamonds.blogspot.com/2011 ... -from.html