Here’s the way I see this Dawkins incident… If you want to call him out for basically saying women have it easy in America when it comes to misogyny, that’s fine. This isn’t the Middle East, and torturing and enslaving women isn’t a culturally accepted norm. (No, that is in no way a means to discount the suffering of women in the Middle East, either!)
While womens’ rights certainly have a way to go in America, I feel confident that I won’t have to deal with any of the experiences of Middle Eastern women in Dawkins’ analogy. And I don’t perceive every man’s interest in me as sexual interest or get panicky when someone asks me for coffee – even in the briefly confined space of an elevator, alone.
But the truth is, that’s not what we’re talking about. Rebecca Watson has partially divided the online atheist community by demanding support against Dawkins for implying her incident on the elevator isn’t quite the ordeal she thinks it is. And then she speaks of people siding with her as “bravely battling both him and the hoards of clueless people who don’t get it” and says, “you made me realize that Dawkins is not the present. He is the past.”
Wow. I sure as fuck hope not. I sincerely do not want to be part of a future where a man has to be afraid to ask me for a cup of coffee and that after I turn him down, I will go make a youtube video partially about how creeped out that made me. If anyone is a sexist here, it is Rebecca. She has no clue of this man’s intentions, but assumes because he is a man, those intentions are sexual. She wants him to remember her talking about threatening emails from people who disagree with her and mention rape and realize that that means someone who is agreeable and would like to talk more is also a creep. And she bases this on the fact that he is a man!
Yet, the man not only listened to her speech, he talked with her and others following up after the speech in a bar. He clearly knew what her point of view was and at least somewhat or partially agreed and probably wasn’t thinking of how much like someone sending her death threats with a casual rape mention he was, by basically asking (with the preface, “don’t take this the wrong way”) if she’d like to continue the conversation. I would guess both the coffee and room invite were based on the fact that it was 4am, not his sinister intention to get her alone in a hotel room that isn’t locked from the inside after a busy conference that was probably full enough that someone would hear her screams. And even if his intentions were to impress her into sleeping with him – why would it be evident to him, that that attitude was unacceptable? Do feminists never sleep with people they just met recently? Was it implied somewhere in Rebecca’s speech that she wished no one would ask her out or show interest in her, ever?
No. This poor man has probably since been witness to this trash online, and his attitude toward women may be forever changed, thanks to Rebecca and her supportive followers.
I am absolutely appalled at the amount of support this has gotten Rebecca – and troubled by what it means. I can’t help to think that Dawkins took it over the line by making a blog post, but at the same time, I’d never expect such an irrational response in return, and I’m not willing to think of him as some misogynist fossil who no longer is allowed to speak for atheists.
Rebecca continues: “So many of you voiced what I had already been thinking: that this person who I always admired for his intelligence and compassion does not care about my experiences as an atheist woman and therefore will no longer be rewarded with my money, my praise, or my attention. I will no longer recommend his books to others, buy them as presents, or buy them for my own library. I will not attend his lectures or recommend that others do the same.”
Well, I am an atheist woman, and I feel you have blown this “experience” way out of proportion and am disturbed that you seem to have a supportive following on the subject. Not to mention that frankly, none of this is even related to atheism.
“Despite the fact that I’ve seen hundreds of comments from those of you who plan to do the same, I’m sure Dawkins will continue to be stinking rich until the end of his days.”
Bitter, much? Frankly, what does this have to do with anything?
“But those of us who are humanists and feminists”
I am not allowed to be those things because I disagree with you?
“will find new, better voices to promote and inspire, and Dawkins will be left alone to fight the terrible injustice of standing in elevators with gum-chewers.”
Oh, Jaysus. Get over yourself.