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.