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Much ado about…wait, what?

Unless you’ve been in space, or travelling without net access, you’re likely to have come across just some of the fallout from “Elevatorgate”. If you haven’t, here it is in a nutshell, with copious links. Skepchick Rebecca Watson was approached by a guy in Dublin following an atheist conference, and later spoke about it in a video, saying that he shouldn’t have done that. And then the world exploded. Blogs appeared everywhere, either to defending or persecuting, and on Twitter, occasionally things got downright ugly. And then Richard Dawkins commented on one of these blogs, and things got a little more crazy again, culminating in a final post which, confusingly, aims to outline athiest pick-ups to prevent further snafus.

If you’ve opened every link up there, I commend you for your commitment to information, and indeed, for your patience. There’s a lot to read there, and in my opinion, an awful lot of it is pretty tough to swallow. Unfortunately, an imaginary dichotomy appears to have sprung up, and throughout the land, people are being broadly classified as either “feminist, and therefore supportive and helpful and likely, a male apologist” or “anti-skepchick and therefore pro-rape, sleazy, and generally a bad person”. This is primarily what I would like to challenge, and hopefully, lay to rest for at least some of my readers.

I don’t often focus on myself in these blogs, but in this instance, I think that a little context would be valuable. I work as a programmer, having received a degree in Computer Science and Biology, and in my spare time, I train in a number of styles of martial arts. I also like to game (tabletop RPGs and video gaming). It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that I often come across stereotypes relating to women – after all, I received my degree in a class composed almost entirely of men, I work in a male dominated field, and the martial arts that I do tend not to attract many female participants. In short, I’m a woman in a man’s world. With all of the above in mind, it may surprise some of you to learn that I don’t consider myself a feminist. In fact, I often find myself possessing very little patience for the feminists of today.

I’m a “modern woman” who just doesn’t agree with modern feminism, and it’s a terribly awkward position to be in. I know that, as a woman, I’m still more likely to be paid less for the same work, and less likely to be promoted to senior management positions. I know that, as a female martial artist, I’m more likely to be regarded as someone who received their grade simply because they’re a girl. And while I don’t think that this is right, or ideal, I also don’t think that we’re going the right way about changing that.

Feminism isn’t supposed to be about the superiority of the “fairer” sex, it’s supposed to be about equality between both sexes, and with that, there has to follow a little give-and-take. There are so many places where, even in this day and age, it is a struggle to be a woman; woman are routinely abused, denied rights, and subjected to treatment that is not handed out fairly or evenly. This, I can’t condone, and I don’t believe that anyone should. There are plenty of “first world problems” too, such as pay and promotion disparities, and these too, should not be allowed. I just don’t believe that a man asking to spend time with a woman, and then saying “ok” when she refuses, is in the same league as the systematic abuse perpetrated in many countries on a daily basis. Perhaps it might make you feel uncomfortable if you’re not attracted to the person, but that’s not a feminist issue, it’s a personal one.

You can’t simultaneously demand equality, and then also demand different treatment because you are a woman. Equality should mean equality on all fronts, which should mean that men and women are free to express their desires, and men and women are free to say yes or no. And as long as no crime occurs (i.e. sexual assault after a clear refusal), then that really should be the end of it.

I have believed for some time that modern feminism isn’t fighting for the things I believe in. Instead, it’s fighting for something beyond equality, where women are untouchable, and every conflict is a sexist issue. It is such a hot topic that any man saying disagreeing with the majority feminist viewpoint risks being publicly named and shamed in the manner of a sex offender. Much of this behaviour happened on twitter in the last week or two, and frankly, it’s ridiculous. The fact that I’m a women doesn’t change the way I deal with the various issues I blog about, or my beliefs. I’m female, but I won’t treat being female like it’s something that should give me carte blanche, or something that should change the way I live my life.

I am lucky enough to live in a corner of the world where, for the most part, being a woman isn’t a big deal. I won’t look for sexist issues where they don’t exist, and I won’t add gravitas to otherwise unimportant happenings by tacking the word “feminism” onto them; especially when so many women do not enjoy the many freedoms that I take for granted. I’m not a feminist. I’m just a programmer, a martial artist, a blogger, a scientist, and a skeptic. I also happen to be female.

70 replies on “Much ado about…wait, what?”

Another well-written blog post, Buffy. Thanks for sharing it. Thanks also for the various links allowing us to track the development of the rather skewed and emotive “debate.”

Personally, I find it offensive that Rebecca described the man as “sexualising” her just because he invited her for coffee. She imputes sexism to him that is far from self-evident, and thus reveals her own sexism. For my own part, I find her response hard to fathom – not that she refused him (I would have done so as well), but that she took offence at him for asking. I don’t intend to have sex before marriage, but even I wouldn’t be offended by such an invitation, and I certainly wouldn’t see it as objectifying me sexually – rather simply as being open to the sexual possibilities that exist between humans. She closed off that possibility (if that’s even what he was going for, as opposed to simply wanting to talk). He accepted what he said and didn’t pressure her (something we can be sure of, since if she mentioned even those few words on her video she certainly would have kicked up a stink if anything more had happened). I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

If men and women really are equal, can’t we be honest to each other about our desires? The worst that can happen in that case is that we are disappointed because don’t desire the same thing, and even that isn’t bad because we learn about each other from the experience of difference. Dishonesty, which closes the door to mutual understanding, is infinitely worse.

As a general comment: on the one hand, as I’ve said to you in the past, this blog feels like it has yet again hit a very easy target. To my mind, Skepchick is fairly obviously wrong; just like many of those you have written about in the past, it’s almost too easy to demolish her. On the other hand, judging from the volume of response from people who have taken her side, her misapprehension seems not to be obvious to everyone. I’ll continue to read and see.

Great post! I think you’ve got to the heart of many of the issues very well. The phrase “first world problems” seems well worth bearing in mind here.

There is, however, one further point which I think goes some way to explaining why Watson’s comments provoked such a shitstorm, which doesn’t seem to have been aired much, either on your blog or elsewhere.

Here’s the thing: there’s a subtext to what Watson said, which is “Ooh, look at me, I’m so cool and attractive that men just can’t help propositioning me no matter where I go!”

Now, I’m sure Watson didn’t mean it to come across that way, but the simple fact is that making a big deal out of having been propositioned is a form of bragging.

I’m guessing that many of the negative reactions to what Watson said were provoked, perhaps not on an entirely conscious level, by people objecting to the bragging.

This is the latest trend in skepticism. Just like Phil Plait’s “Don’t be a dick”. The sad thing is that “Don’t be a dick” was such a positive message but it appears not many of the skeptisphere’s key influencers were paying attention to its message.

I’ve unfollowed PZ Myers and Skepchic. Still kept my Richard Dawkins follow though. It’s the closest think to serenity a skeptic can get and it’s not because I agree or disagree on one or the other side of the argument. I just felt I should choose content over comment.

Hello,

I’m new to this blog, followed a link on Twitter.

I am somewhat ambivalent on this situation, I can see both sides. I’m posting cuz I can’t make out from your post what you’re saying- that you are not a feminist, as in you do not believe in equal rights for women, or that you don’t like what has been said in feminism’s name/how people cry “sexism!” about everything?

You seem to be saying both?

As a woman in your profession, with your education, job, and lifestyle, it’s disappointing you don’t embrace the label “feminist”, because feminisms of varying flavours have got us to a place where you can be and do those things. You’re standing on the shoulders of great women.

That some people misuse the term, or that some arms of feminism are wacky, should not mean that the entire school of thought/activism is dismissed, surely?

Hi,

That’s a good question. Of course I believe in equal rights for men and women, and I’m very aware of the many women who, in the past, fought to get those equal rights. That said, just because something was important or necessary in the past does not necessarily mean that it is still important or necessary now. I don’t believe that modern feminism is stands for the same things that it used to, at least not in our first-world society.

I think that modern feminism seems, more often, to be about a kind of superiority, rather than equality, and this doesn’t represent what I believe at all. I do want equal pay for the same work, I do want equal opportunities for progression; I don’t believe that the best way to get this is to ensure that everyone is so hypersensitive about potential sexist issues that they’re afraid to speak.

There are issues to combat, most definitely; the fact that we live in a time where, simultaneously, women can enjoy the freedoms I do, while in countries such as Afghanistan, women are systematically repressed, means that there is still work to be done. However, I believe that it diminishes unfairly the importance of these issues to label events such as “elevatorgate” as a feminist issue.

The only label I really embrace is my own – I’m many many things, and among them, I am a women. I refuse to treat my gender like it is a disability.

I get that we see modern feminism differently. That’s okay. But I think it’s disingenuous to suggest that even in the context of the whole elevator gate fiasco people were treating your (our) gender like it’s a disability. A woman said hey guys don’t do that to something that made her uncomfortable. It wasn’t unreasonable that it made her uncomfortable. As far as I was concerned that’s all that needed to be said. But then… everyone said how dare she protest against such a thing! That is when it became an issue for me. She gets to say something when something isn’t okay with her and it shouldn’t be a capital offense.

There are far more important issues to combat in other countries. Absolutely. Still, I would like to see issues of equality for men and women be confronted here. Because really, for everything that has a social vibe of women are the ones that do “A” it means that men are expected to do “B”… and it hurts everyone. ex: Women are more likely to raise children… men are less likely to stay home with the kids. This presumption hurts both genders makes it harder for stay at home dads, custody battles, when it should be something that’s reflective of what those parents want and what skills they individually have. Now, I can pay attention to these smaller things and still pay attention to the horrific things going on elsewhere. I don’t feel the need to play the “Well it’s worse there!” game. I have been forcibly raped. I have been told that women can’t do a job (carpentry) by my boss despite being a top performer with absolutely no complaints against me (I’m 25 so this was recent). I also have a great deal of rights, resources, strength, and ability and nothing I have experienced even compares to what women elsewhere in the world deal with. Does that mean I should just shut up about it or can I worry about both?

Noting inequalities, gender roles, or when something just doesn’t sound right isn’t treating my gender like a disability and it isn’t a betrayal to far more horrific things elsewhere. It’s standing up for what will make our society stronger.

“But then… everyone said how dare she protest against such a thing! That is when it became an issue for me. She gets to say something when something isn’t okay with her and it shouldn’t be a capital offense.”

You’re lying about what happened.

Didn’t John Dewey say something smart about labels like ‘feminism’?
“For in spite of itself any movement that thinks and acts in terms of an ‘ism becomes so involved in reaction against other ‘isms that it is unwittingly controlled by them. For it then forms its principles by reaction against them instead of by a comprehensive, constructive survey of actual needs, problems, and possibilities.”

I’ve vaguely followed this since you mentioned it on twitter a few weeks ago – it involved blogs and people I don’t read or know about, but I really don’t understand why there was any come-back at all from Skepchick’s video. It just… seemed like it was a proportionate response, given her description of the *whole* situation.

I don’t see it as a feminist issue, per se. But the fact is, that women are more likely to be or feel physically threatened by men than the other way around. I daresay there are things women might do that men find threatening in some way. I don’t think it’s on the same level as the institutionalized and cultural sexism that is a daily reality for millions of women, but, having been propositioned myself (though you really wouldn’t think it to look at me, seriously), often in public transport where I have nowhere to go, and sometimes with the guy not backing down after I’ve said I’m not interested, I don’t see why I or another woman shouldn’t be allowed to feel creeped-out or unhappy about it.

“I don’t see why I or another woman shouldn’t be allowed to feel creeped-out or unhappy about it”

Another lie about what happened. No one has said that RW isn’t allowed to feel something or be unhappy about something.

Mark Rowlands makes the point in a tongue in cheek book about TV and philosophy that the original Buffy was in fact a modernist heroine, cast by her role to perform a duty that did not match well with the feminist possibilities in the show. She was strong but not free for instance. The work of feminism, said Donna Haraway, rejecting the title post-feminist thinker, is not done, as inequalities remain. Much (post-) modern (third-wave) feminism can be read as removing the category of woman as a stable point of attack or defense. This is one tactic, though your approach, which could be characterized as an auto-ethnography of the particular, is another, and probably more successful. Allowing theory in once you have spoken, or allowing it arise in discourse as the narrative dictates, moves from what the philosopher George Devereux ‘anxiety’ to ‘method’. Congrats.

PS had never heard of elevator gate. reception is crappy in this cave….

Thanks for the post on AI, great blog, and fully agree. The whole “Elevatorgate” is a mindless distraction, without any positive directive. (It’s almost like a scene from a movie)
I do hate when a debate draws a line between the sexes/sexism, as the most sexist person I know is my sister, I would actually be scared to call her out on this, it just would’t be worth months of grief, but I know part of the responce would be, how can a woman be sexist? which is the ironic Q of Feminism. If I have to draw a line between being a Feminist/Male-ist I have to pick virtual/relative-Equalist

I could write plenty on this, but every word is like playing minesweeper.

Sexist men don’t respect Special Females™ like you any more than they respect outspoken feminists. But I hope the crumbs off their tables are tasty enough for you.

I’d love to reply to your post with something clever, but to be honest, I’m simply not sure what you mean, as to be honest, your post is barely intelligible. I see from your IP address that you are posting from a college network, which would seem to imply that you are studying in college. That being the case, I really would have expected more…

Insinuating that a woman who’s already successful in a male-dominated field is doing something only because she wants male attention/acceptance (or whatever ‘crumbs’ means) seems… rather sexist.

“I just don’t believe that a man asking to spend time with a woman, and then saying “ok” when she refuses, is in the same league as the systematic abuse perpetrated in many countries on a daily basis.”

And nobody says it is. All Watson said, and she said it quite calmly, was that it made her uncomfortable, and guys should understand why it might and not do that.

What’s been more telling, from my perspective, is the incredible anger an hostility unleashed in response. Watson’s comment was nothing; an offhand comment which I would have hardly noticed it in the larger context of the video, but the reaction was unbelievable.

All she said was that being approached by a drunken man in hotel elevator at 4 in the morning made her a little uncomfortable; for saying so she gets called all kinds of vile names, her (I think perfectly reasonable) discomfort gets ridiculed, she’s subjected to mockery and even threats….And yet somehow Watson gets singled out as being the irrational, hysterical one.

I just don’t get it.

I disagree. Had Watson said “guys, don’t do that to me because I don’t like it and it makes me uncomfortable”, that would be one thing. However, she made a much more general sweeping statement that guys shouldn’t do this at all, ever, because it’s creepy. This is where I believe that the issue moves from one of personal discomfort to declarations of sexism, and I simply don’t think it’s fair to brand all men as creeps on the basis of personal discomfort.

In my opinion, the whole mess has resulted in an awful lot of male apologist claptrap, where people with male genitalia seem to want to pro-actively apologise for possessing it in case it might offend my delicate female sensibilities. It’s ok though, it probably won’t. I don’t wear my gender as a badge, and I don’t treat it like a disability, so I don’t expect anyone else to either. What Dawkins said was crude, but broadly, I’m inclined to agree. I’m lucky enough to live in a society where I am afforded so many rights and privileges that I couldn’t even count them, but a plane journey away, there are women who are mutilated for trying to escape abusive husbands and in-laws. With this in mind, I don’t discount modern feminism, but I do absolutely think carefully before branding something sexist. To brand this non-issue as sexists lends it gravitas that it doesn’t deserve, and also, diminishes the importance of the struggle that many women must endure to enjoy the rights that most of us take for granted.

I know that, as a woman, I’m more likely to be paid less and overlooked for promotions in the workplace, and I’m less likely to be taken seriously as a martial artist. And yes, this is sexism, but the way to combat that is to continue to strive for equality in these areas where equality is still not seen, not to bandy the words feminism or sexism around at the drop of a hat. It diminishes the impact of the words, it diminishes all those who fought for the freedoms that we enjoy, and frankly, it diminishes those who do it themselves.

Watson’s response to this whole mess hasn’t really raised her in my esteem. I don’t have much respect for someone who uses their gender as a crutch, and I don’t respect her reactions to it. To brand the guy a creep who doesn’t get it, simply because she felt uncomfortable, is overkill. To further speak about McGraw in the same context as rapists and other sexual offenders was unfair, and an abuse of her position, especially given that McGraw was a) misrepresented, and b) given no opportunity to respond. To do all this under the banner of “feminism”, well, that’s just insulting.

Guys shouldn’t do what that guy did…ever. Drunkenly propositioning a woman you’ve never met at 4 am in an elevator is always going to be a creepy thing to do. That women in other places suffer much worse doesn’t make it any less creepy.

For the record I’m a guy, a martial artist, and have taught a few self defence seminars…this is exactly the kind of situation (alone in an elevator in the middle of the night with a drunken stranger) in which I would advise anyone to be on their guard.

Watson may have over-reacted to the reaction I suppose but given the tone of some of what she was getting I’m not sure I blame her, and I still don’t get the hostility that’s been directed at her. Just my observation from the sidelines.

Why Watson gets all the hostility directed at her? I don’t know why, but I know how.

She got some people sending her e-mail where they told her that she should be raped because of this video, “Comparing Male Circumcision and Female Genital Mutilation”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAlEcB4KNDo

It is very educational to watch. Please read her sources first. Pay attention to WHO definitions of FGM type I (prepuce means both clitoral hood and foreskin) and the FGM mortality estimate by WPI. See how they are represented by Watson on the video.

She knew she had to lie in order to make her point. Skepchick, eh?

“Drunkenly”

Why is it that all of Watson’s defenders resort to lies? If they can’t even get the basic facts right, there’s no point in listening to what they have to say.

“All Watson said, and she said it quite calmly, was that it made her uncomfortable, and guys should understand why it might and not do that.”

This is another lie about what happened.

“What’s been more telling, from my perspective, is the incredible anger an hostility unleashed in response.”

You’re talking about PZ Myers and Pharyngula, right?

“a drunken man”

You’re a serial liar.

“I just don’t get it.”

You wear your ignorance and inability to comprehend like a badge.

Having read a lot of what was said and written about the whole thing I think Rebecca Watson has a very valid point and that Dawkins was incredibly out of order. This has been discussed elsewhere, but one person’s experiences are not another’s. She has experienced sexism in the communities she’s active in and while I’m not active in those communities I’ve seen very similar things happen in similar groups. And she made a point of this in Dublin, then someone did the wrong thing at the wrong time. So, in quite a long video post she said, “Listen, maybe don’t do that?”

And then Dawkins was horrendous. Actually, no, not horrendous, insensitive and dumb. She didn’t ask anyone to apologise, didn’t mention any names, didn’t publicly humiliate anyone, but Dawkins, the biggest voice in the arena, chose to at least do the last. His comparisons were unfair and ridiculous. It truly is great that you don’t have the same experiences as lots and lots of women around the world, including in Ireland and Europe, but that’s just your experiences, just as Rebecca Watson’s are hers.

From what I’ve read I don’t think she was using her sex as a crutch, or trying to call attention to how desirable she is or isn’t, I think she was saying ‘That was creepy, women other than me would find that creepy, so maybe don’t do that?’

Based on what I’ve seen, her response is the measured, understandable one and lots of arenas and professions woud be better if people listened to the advice she gives.

This is true, I hadn’t seen that follow-up part. It’s a pity that she did, it’s true. I don’t think it invalidates her original points, nor justifies the reaction. I also don’t think that point suddenly makes my opinion invalid, but thank you for yours.

I am forever amazed at the ability of the internet to take small things like an unfortunate interaction between two people and explode it into such a massive debate intertwining issues like religion and science that weren’t really involved.
Step outside the story for a moment: After a conference a man gets into an elevator with a woman he finds attractive, he attempts flirting, comes on too strong and fails miserably in the attempt to woo the woman in question.
So why is Richard Dawkins and Muslim genitalia involved again?

Dawkins didn’t get invovled untill PZ Myers became an apologist for Watson after her vicious personal attack on Stef McGraw.

And again, like many others, you are assuming the elevator guy was trying to have sex with her. That’s your, and Watson’s, assumption. From the reported dialog, it would appear to me he went out of his way to try not to give that impression.

I should like to say that I found your blog here for other, superior reasons. Alas, I did not, and that is no doubt to my own disservice. At any rate, I am glad to have been sent here (through erv’s blog on scienceblogs). Sadly, all of the reasonable people are busy with jobs and lives and, thus, the chafe are the ones whom people see speaking purportedly on everyone else’s behalf.

Regards,
Justicar

I am lucky enough to live in a corner of the world where, for the most part, being a woman isn’t a big deal. I won’t look for sexist issues where they don’t exist, and I won’t add gravitas to otherwise unimportant happenings by tacking the word “feminism” onto them; especially when so many women do not enjoy the many freedoms that I take for granted. I’m not a feminist. I’m just a programmer, a martial artist, a blogger, a scientist, and a skeptic. I also happen to be female.

Brilliant post, and ends with a brilliant flourish. Thank you. I love your attitude.
I am an east indian guy working in the finance industry in NYC, and if I had let certain cultural ‘inequalities/under-privileges’ (incoveniences really) come in my way I would have never had the success I had in my career. A military person who later became a software engg manager once told us ‘There are two kinds of people in this world. those who complain and die, and those who just die. which one do you want to be?’. A positive attitude really lets us focus on real problems and be successful in helping ourselves and others.
PS: Love your post on ‘integrity starts at home’ as well.

I too thought that all the fuss about “elevatorgate” was somewhat overblown. But as a man I was afraid to voice this opinion, at the height of this it seemed that any one would dare disagree however mildly with the Feminists’ take on this issue was labeled a clueless misogynist. I’ve spoken to a few other skeptical atheist women and they too thought this whole thing was terribly overblown. But as one other commentator here demonstrated, even if you voice that opinion as an intelligent and successful woman your opinion is still just discarded by the feminists. So thanks for this well written post on this issue.

Even in these comments, people are misrepresenting what happened. No one ever said the guy was drunk. And no, not everyone finds the fact that a guy tells you he finds you interesting and then extends an invitation for coffee and conversation in his room, to be creepy. That’s been the crux of this whole issue. A collected few taking it upon themselves to believe they speak for everyone. Same issue with Watson when she, as Buff pointed out, made a generalized “guys don’t do that” to all men. She doesn’t speak for all women. It has been established over and over again that if that’s what creeped Watson out, then so be it. She has a right to her feelings. But in this situation, as it played out, that’s where her rights end. She, nor any other person has the right to order a gender to surrender their right to free speech and expression, simply because there are some who find discomfort with it. To enforce such a ridiculous ideology puts everyone’s rights at risk. Even Watson’s. This guy did nothing wrong. You may not agree that what he did was no more than what he said, but that’s your personal opinion, only. AT worse, you may not even agree that he had the best timing. That’s the most anyone can hang on this guy, was lousy timing. He didn’t objectify her in a sexual way. Some people actually mean what they say, when they say it. Not everyone speaks with cryptic messages. Yet, from minutes after Watson’s blog was posted, the situation suddenly went from “guy objectifying Watson” to “Watson assaulted in elevator” to “all men are potential rapists”. And then people taking this on a wild goose chase, manufacturing things that did not happen, making it out to be an act of misogyny. That’s when Dawkins stepped in and made the comparison. He was spot on with it, too. It wasn’t so much towards Watsons feelings of being uncomfortable, as it was the circus that evolved from it with accusations of sexual assault and misogyny. Which in this case, neither terms apply.

However, Watson spared no time in sexually objectifying this man in the elevator by making his comments “all about sex” instead of seeing him as a “thinking human being”, as what was the very complaint she was making during the panels, in the first place. In other words, her hypocrisy came out, in spades.

“Watson spared no time in sexually objectifying this man”

Absolutely, along with all those people who have countered fallaciously with “Surely you can’t honestly believe that he wasn’t making a sexual advance! Who are you trying to kid!” — these people operate in such a sexualized mode that they can’t even conceive of anyone who doesn’t.

Its good to read this. I dared to speak on the Pod Delusion about why I couldn’t support feminism. I said I kept hearing too much irrationality/misandry from self-identifying feminists (citing specific examples, some involving elevatorgate) whilst being careful not to say anything about *all* feminists. Mostly I wanted to see fewer feminists stating or implying that all men are just rapists waiting to happen:

http://poddelusion.co.uk/blog/2011/07/08/episode-92-8th-july-2011/

I got a torrent of abuse for contradicting feminist dogma. ‘Misogynist’ was pretty much the nicest thing I was called, most just preferring to call me stupid for holding an opinion different to theirs (often whilst condescendingly referring to me as “sweetie” or saying “there’s a good boy”). I was accused of saying all feminists hate men, which I never said, and was accused of saying Rebecca Watson hated men, which I never said either.

This prompted me to disengage from the debate, and temporarily to disengage from the skeptics movement as a whole and from the Pod Delusion. The self-described feminists who had laid into me, simply because the statements of other self-described feminists prevented me from supporting feminism, counted this as a victory for themselves and, perversely, for reason itself.

Old but related to what you said. Its a piece from an article by Susan McKay regarding Joan Burton being passed up for an important position in the Irish Cabinet despite her impressive qualifications and experience.

“Burton should have been made Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. She was not. Why? Because a man wanted the job.

Not a better qualified man. Not even an equally qualified man. Burton, an accountant, has been Labour’s finance spokeswoman for nine years. She is tough, not least because she’s taken part in far too many meetings at which she was the only woman. Brendan Howlin has no significant experience of finance, but he’s a man. A safe pair of balls.”

– Susan McKay Director of the National Women’s council

Its this the kind of thing that annoys me. I don’t for a second disagree with what Susan said about Joan Burton, she was the right candidate for the job her CV stands for itself and she was shafted plain and simple. As far as I’m concerned her posting was a demotion.

I don’t have a problem with Susan saying that the motive for giving Joan Burton a lesser position may have been her gender, its a valid opinion, but then again we dont know the whole story. My personal opinion is that it was tactically motivated, Fine Gael, the larger of the coalition parties, would want a tighter control of finances and what better way of doing it by ensuring that Michael Noonan (their candidate in the finance department) had a weaker and more easily controlled counterpart to work with.

If it is a case of gender discrimination it has to be answered for and Susan was right to voice her suspicions. But whats the point in campaigning for equality when you yourself are prepared to throw sexist remarks such as the balls comment? Its no different from someone saying Joan Burton is in the cabinet because she’s a safe pair of tits, both comments are sexist its a two way street. I dont approve of Susan painting the picture of Brendan Howlin as a misogynist who used the fact that he was a man to make them give him the finance position either, its completely unfounded, and akin to someone saying Joan Burton got into the cabinet by using her “feminine wiles”. To me this is an example of where the condescending behavior of some feminists eg. the ones mocking you wit comments such sweetie and good boy because you dared to voice a different opinion in a calm mature and reasoned manner, spilling over into the real world.

Its this double standard that ultimately reinforces the view that modern feminism is more concerned with putting women on a higher platform than actually establishing true equality between the both genders. That’s one of the main reasons that I look to egalitarianism. The groups I’ve talked to view both men and women as equals from the outset not as oppressor and oppressed to be pitted against one another, one being untouchable and the other being fair game for insults that the latter cries about being subjected to

“However, Watson spared no time in sexually objectifying this man in the elevator by making his comments “all about sex” instead of seeing him as a “thinking human being”, as what was the very complaint she was making during the panels, in the first place. In other words, her hypocrisy came out, in spades.”

I have read countless of pages on this Watson matter, and if I would have commented, I would have wished I had said exactly what “Me” said, above.

This absolutely and totally wins the entire intertubes on Elevatorgate.

On the subject of feminism what is the difference between the demands of these two statements?

A police officer, giving a talk to college girls on the growing problem of rape/assault, suggests to girls not to walk alone at night, not to walk in dark, low-light areas and includes: “And girls, if you don’t want to get raped, don’t dress like sluts. That’s just slutty.” (nonverbatim)

And someone discussing what is perceived as a growing problem of sexism, suggests to men “Don’t do that. That’s just creepy.” (nonverbatim)

Except, the first triggered a protest called SlutWalk?

Maybe this whole issue will cause guys to take to the street in protest with a CreepWalk?

Here’s where I see a difference:

In the police officer example, it’s a situation where not only is the officer passing a judgement on what the choice of clothing a woman wears will convey about her morals and personality to the officer and others but also that if she chooses to convey this that she is asking for physical assault. (Also, something not substantiated statistically.) That if she dresses like that she is putting herself in physical peril and if she gets raped… well she has kind of earned that. To be a closer equivalency, “I don’t want to interact with you when you dress in a way I see as slutty because it makes me uncomfortable. I think it’s gross. Please leave me alone if you want to dress that way,” we’re more on par. Because generally the way someone dresses doesn’t have an impact on another person. While I may not agree with what is slutty or that it conveys something negative about myself or even with them setting that boundary, when it’s an issue of boundaries I will do what I can to respect that. I would do what I could to not interact with this person while wearing attire that would likely bother them whether I agree or not as long as their definition wasn’t too extreme. (I’m not wearing religious attire that covers my face and entire body in my every day life for the benefit of others. But I won’t go chat up someone uncomfortable with me being in a bikini or even a low cut top or short skirt. Just like a guy shouldn’t have to never talk to women of course… but isn’t deeply hindered by considering a particular situation where hitting on woman might not be the best timing.)

If someone suggests to men that a particular action will likely leave women creeped out… can you see how that isn’t the same thing between your two examples? It’s not saying that if you do this “creepy” thing you have practically asked for a physical and emotional assault. It’s saying it may make others uncomfortable. Does that make sense?

Someone brought that up on another site. Thought it interesting. Elaborating further, is it so much focusing on a woman’s character as it is pointing out what stimulates these men to carry out assault? Women have the right to dress as they please. But they also have the right to walk alone at night, if they please or in dark alleys. Yet, there was no protest against those. People wouldn’t think twice about locking doors to their homes and cars, because leaving them unlocked makes them more vulnerable. Yet, keeping your goods covered in a sensible way so you’re not as vulnerable is too much to suggest?

I’m having trouble finding all the articles I’ve seen before. Generally there isn’t any one style of dress. It’s not just a matter of covering up the goods… as popular a belief as that is.

This article: http://www.pbs.org/kued/nosafeplace/articles/rapefeat.html talks about locking windows and doors… doesn’t really address clothing as an issue but does talk about issues of vulnerability that are likely to attract a rapist. That the majority of rapes are committed by people women know. One example of a man convicted of molesting a 13-year-old saying that because a lot of women dress slutty in one setting, women as a whole seem to want to be objectified even outside of that clothing.

Here’s one interview http://www.pbs.org/kued/nosafeplace/interv/sanchez.html in which it’s pointed out by an expert that there isn’t any one profile men look for when committing rape including style of dress. It’s what that individual is looking for.

I’m sorry I can’t find the articles I want to really back up my statement… maybe someone can help me out? I have a meeting but I’ll try to remember to look again later.

Oh and to there not being a protest about not getting to feel safe walking down dark alleys: Take Back the Night is a protest stating that women should be able to walk the streets at night and feel safe that’s been going on for 30 some years. Not saying that it’s just as safe but stating that it’s not the women’s fault for not keeping herself locked up it’s still the rapist’s fault for raping. (It’s also a safe place to speak out against and talk about sexual violence.)

You don’t think a woman dressing with all but her nipples and vagina exposed has an impact on other people? You don’t think that doesn’t cause men to form an erection? Erections, especially if confined in a space where they can do nothing about it, can be painful.

That in part might be why it’s not appropriate to wear a bikini to a business meeting but say out lounging on the beach and giving space for people to look or not look, engage or not engage, and move on or not move on is available is more appropriate. I absolutely wouldn’t want to do it in a situation where people are forced to interact with me in a confined space regardless of their comfort level. Just like I wouldn’t want to be forced to interact with an otherwise perfectly nice guy in a speedo without the ability to remove myself or choose to be in that space and I don’t even have to deal with erections.

I doubt the police officer was talking about bikinis on beaches. After the SlutWalk, saw a cartoon someone sketched in magazine of dentist office. Several frames of a police officer and geek-like person sitting at a table, what looked like a debate.

The geek was holding a sign “Freedom of expression! Women’s rights! Gender equality!”

The police officer was holding a sign that said “Use common sense! Protect yourself! Dress appropriately!”

The caption bubble showed the police saying something to an assumed audience. Don’t remember what it was he said.

Next frame, the geek is leaning sideways towards the cop, whispering out of the corner of his mouth. The caption bubble had him saying “STFU man! You’re ruining the free peep shows for the rest of us!” The policeman’s eyebrows were raised.

Next frame, policeman leaning over to geek, speaking out of corner of his mouth, “You realize there are women reading this cartoon, right?” Eyes of geek are wide, like deer caught in headlights.

Next frame, geek holding out his hands, waving as if you’re the audience, caption bubble reads geek saying, “No! No! I was kidding! Don’t put that shirt back on! Nooooo!”

It gave me a chuckle.

No more likely he was talking about short skirts and low cut shirts. There I was responding to the idea that just covering a vagina and nipples could potentially create a painfully embarrassing moment for men trapped in a situation with them. I was not talking about what the officer meant.

I thought we were talking about the difference between the two statements you suggested… now we’re talking about whether women are just giving a free peep show to guys during slut walk…?

Getting back to that, do you see how those two statements are fundamentally different? “When you dress like that you’re asking for violence.”(non-verbatim) or “That behavior creeps me out. Don’t do that…”(non-verbatim). One says behave this way or someone raping you is your fault. The other requests someone respect a boundary. Victim blaming and a boundary someone is requesting be respected.

(Also regarding our above discussion, according to this most rape victims are wearing regular clothing http://pathwayscourses.samhsa.gov/vawp/vawp_supps_pg11.htm It’s a government agency website with cited sources but I admit the date rape statistic looks off. Best I’m going to come up with right now. I do a lot to protect myself, even when it isn’t statistically supported, I shouldn’t have to and either way I’m not at fault for getting raped. I didn’t ask for it. Victim blaming is not okay.)

Agree that victim blaming is not okay. I’ve heard the same debate about wearing seat belts while driving. People shouldn’t be strapped in like prisoners. Of course one could say it’s a safety issue, but so are the other things mentioned. No one asks to be assaulted, robbed or have your home broken into, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be a bit more cautious about what we do in public. Perhaps the officer was pointing out there were things that put you at higher risk. The from what I was told from other women, SlutWalk wasn’t just about victim blaming. It was about being able to dress as one pleases and even if a woman was dressed like a slut, she had that right. It didn’t give a guy the right to take advantage of her. So basically what’s being asked here on both accounts are freedoms given up. Freedom of expression and freedom of speech. I don’t see where it’s right for one to be given up and not the other.

Well, seat belts have been shown to save lives. The same has not been shown to be true with wearing conservative clothes preventing rape. Even if it were…

Telling a woman that if she wears clothing that are provacative she is inviting a man to disregard anything else and rape her and telling a guy that something he might do runs the risk of making her uncomfortable and the results probably won’t be a positive response… they don’t equate. (Look at the end results. A guy disregards that advice and a girl says, “Um that weirded me out. Why didn’t you listen to that advice? What did you expect?” No real consequences. Maybe a little embarrassment. A girl gets raped while wearing something revealing: “Well, you didn’t take that step to protect yourself… Why didn’t you take that advice? What did you expect?” Kind of a different consequence there. In the wake of a rape being made to feel that she incited this against herself… she was asking for it… different. Very different.

It’s time to put the issue to bed, but with the addendum that Dawkins did not deserve such scorn.

I hope Watson goes back to being a very minor influence in the skeptic community, as she’s proven that she only has her own agenda at the top of her list.

I probably said more than I needed on the subject, here: http://tonyryan.org.uk/?p=602 and here: http://tonyryan.org.uk/?p=582 but I felt that those in support of Watson’s OTT attitude needed a counterreaction!

@realee and me, thank you for a very interesting and thought-provoking discussion. This comment is about the original blog post, which I’ve only just read.

@Buffy

If I understand you correctly, you appear to agree with what feminism is “supposed to be about” yet don’t identify as a feminist because you “just don’t agree with modern feminism”, which you perceive as being about “the superiority of the ‘fairer’ sex”.

You don’t explain this perception. I have considered myself a feminist for some 40 years; at no time I have been aware of any mainstream feminist writing or campaigning either intentionally or unintentionally promulgating a view that women are superior, so I have to wonder where this idea comes from. Could you provide some links or references to whatever may have persuaded you of this view?

Your proclamation that you ‘don’t believe a man asking to spend with a woman, etc, is in the same league as systematic abuse perpetrated in many countries on a daily basis’, is a straw man – unless you can point to anyone who has suggested they are in the same league. Rebecca Watson hasn’t.

In any event, your presentation of the incident is mendacious, because you stripped it of the all-important context. RW did not say a man should never express desire or ask a woman back to his room. If you are going to extrapolate from her description of the incident and her response to it, some general principle of modern feminism that men shouldn’t be free to express desire, then it behoves you to explain how you do it.

Your pre-penultimate paragraph is the most problematic. You say we can’t both demand equality and demand to be treated differently because we are women. This is a curious comment which, again, you don’t support with a single example, unless you seriously think that’s what RW is doing. (Do you?)

My understanding of elevatorgate is that RW wasn’t asking to be treated differently because she’s a woman. On the contrary, she was asking to be treated the same as if she was a man. She was asking for the same courtesy that, say, Richard Dawkins would have got had it been Dawkins who happened to find himself in the elevator with elevator guy at 4am in the morning.

I’m sure anyone at the conference would say they found Dawkins “interesting”. But do you think elevator guy would have made the same proposition to him? Or to any other man, for that matter. Of course not. So where does that leave your argument? Have you got a better example of women demanding to be treated differently because they are women?

In any event, you present a false dichotomy. Feminism isn’t about some simplistic definition of ‘equality’. It is about having the same human rights as men and that includes recognition that we are different but not using those differences as a reason to hurt us.

In other words, we can demand equality – we can demand an end to discrimination in law and custom and practice; and, as long as some men rape and assault some women, we can also demand that they be sensitive to the fact that all women will feel vulnerable in certain situations. These are not conflicting demands and as soon men abandon rape and violence against women, the second one can be dropped. (I trust you know that most violence between men and women is perpetrated by men against women and not vice versa?)

In your penultimate paragraph, you again characterise ‘modern feminism’ without giving an example of what “things” you think it is fighting for that you don’t agree with. I’m afraid I didn’t see any of the nonsense on twitter that you refer to but I’m surprised that you should base your judgement of what ‘modern feminism’ is on anything said on twitter. It seems to me that your problem is less with feminism than with a few individual feminists.

As someone who – because I was born in an earlier time – did not have the opportunities that you did but who campaigned so that future generations of women would have a better world, I’m really saddened that you see things this way and I hope you will think about it some more. 🙁

Thank you for putting that so eloquently! I share that perception of and experience of what feminism is. I haven’t really seen the depiction of feminism trying to promote women as superior. I would also be interested in a link or reference to something like that. I really appreciate your post.

I would also like to add that I also believe feminist goals in looking for equality for men and women hope to end restricting aspects of gender roles that are damaging to everyone. Such as women being perceived as typically the main caretaker of children having impacts on men who are/want to be stay at home dads as well as custody battles often favoring women… and what plays into that. Not to mention gender norms for expressing/not expressing emotional distress being one of many factors likely influencing higher substance abuse and completed suicide rates in men. Just some examples. In this way feminism can be likened to or described as humanism because gender roles asking one thing of one gender ask something else of the other (and those that don’t fit into that simple binary) and it can be damaging to everyone.

Anyway, again, thank you Skepticat for your thoughtful post.

Watson didn’t, directly. She started, hypocritically, pointing out that was the EG did was “objectifying” her. This was questioned by another blogger. Then the web exploded with people defending Watson by exaggerating the issue of what happened, or what it was an example of, equating the EG behavior with misogyny, sexism, even some form of assault. That’s when Dawkins came in and in a rather blunt way, gave REAL examples of misogyny and sexism, making light of those who were being drama queens and equating EGs behavior with something that it wasn’t. Watson didn’t help this matter, at this point. She may not have initially started that fire, but she fed the flames, afterwards.

Go ahead and “demand that they be sensitive to the fact that all women will feel vulnerable in certain situations”, but I have no intention of catering to such demands.

First of all, that is not a fact. I polled women in my social circle, several of whom have experienced physical or sexual abuse in their lives, and they have uniformly agreed that they do not feel vulnerable in related circumstances today.

Second, by demanding that women should be treated a particular way because of this (false) notion, you presume to be better at setting boundaries for others than they are themselves. While I have no trouble believing that there are plenty of women who would be happy to have you making demands on their behalf, I also know plenty who would reject any such attempt on your part. They are fully capable of setting their own boundaries and find it problematic when someone else attempts to do so for them.

@airborne

I’m afraid your anecdotal evidence about the women in your social circle is both unscientific and irrelevant and I’m not sure what you think it proves. Of course all women feel vulnerable in certain situations – as do all men. It’s normal – we evolved that way and it helps us survive, as I’m sure you know. Just how vulnerable an individual (woman or man) feels in a given situation will depend on a lot of different factors and two individuals will not necessarily feel the same in the same situation but to suggest that some women never feel it, as you seem to be doing, is just ridiculous.

I’m sure most men can admit that they would feel vulnerable to the possibility of violent assault and robbery if they were lost while walking through a rough part of town full of drunks and street bums late at night. I’m sure they can also admit that, in addition to fear of violent assault and robbery, women in such circumstances are quite justified in feeling vulnerable to the possibility of a sexual assault. And the reason women are justified in fearing sexual assault, the reason why women are encouraged to take common sense personal safety precautions, carry alarms, learn self-defence or just stay home at night, is that, even in this so-called age of enlightenment there is, and always has been, a great deal of sexual violence perpetrated by men against women. (And I’m sure you also know that sexual assaults by men on women are not confined to dark streets; they take place in the home, in the workplace and even in hotels.)

This isn’t to suggest all men are potentially violent or rapists but enough men are for it to be a culturally recognised phenomenon and thus a barrier to true equality because – like it or not – it inhibits relationships between men and women.

Your last paragraph starts with the same straw man as buffy used. I already dealt with it in my last post but to repeat: we are not “demanding that women be treated a particular way”, on the contrary we are asking NOT to be treated a particular way just because we are women. Rather, we are saying, “recognise that we have feelings as do men; they may not be the same feelings but don’t disregard them, afford them the same consideration”. (See my example with Dawkins in my last post.) In a nutshell, we are saying ‘follow the golden rule’. If you are going to claim that women are demanding to be treated differently, please give a genuine example of this.

As I have not attempted to “set any boundaries” for anything, it follows that the remainder of your last paragraph is complete nonsense. If you wish to continue this conversation, please focus on what I actually say and try not to read into it anything that isn’t there.

Finally, on your opening sentence, I’m sorry that you appear to lack sufficient human empathy to recognise why not all women outside your social circle might feel the same as the ones in it. However, it is my happy experience that most men I engage with nowadays are a lot more enlightened and a lot less crass. Thank you for demonstrating that there are still exceptions.

Your last paragraph starts with the same straw man as buffy used. I already dealt with it in my last post but to repeat: we are not “demanding that women be treated a particular way”, on the contrary we are asking NOT to be treated a particular way just because we are women.

I think there are many situations where we can agree on that. Here we can find some mutual agreement using common sense. But I think there are a lot of subjective situational shades of gray where we do not (and where many women disagree as well). What women like Oullette, Greta Christa, Watson and others may find sexist, women like zenbuffy, Miranda, ERV would not. I think the recent “Jesus and Mo” comic spoke to this.

Overall, I don’t think zenbuffy was making a strawman. When you say, “we are asking NOT to be treated a particular way” you apppear to imply that you speak for women in general, including women who disagree with you on what would be considered inappropriate or sexist.

I can understand what you mean by the golden rule. But I think what gets a lot of people’s backs up is that the part of the rule saying “…as you would have them do unto you” is being specifically defined for them by another group of people, despite their feelings to the contrary.

and, as long as some men rape and assault some women, we can also demand that they be sensitive to the fact that all women will feel vulnerable in certain situations.

I think this should be re-worded as follows:

“and, as long as some men rape and assault some women, women who have my perspective on feminism can also demand that they be sensitive to the fact that some women will feel vulnerable in certain situations.”

As shown by zenbuffy, Miranda Hale, Paula Kirby, blueharmony, and others, not all women agree with Third Wave feminist perceptions on things.

For example, when Greg Laden advised that men should cross the street late at night to avoid alarming an unaccompanied woman coming towards him, some women agreed with him, but other women thought this was really absurd. I agree that context is important, but it’s clearly a mistake to imply that 3rd Wave feminist thinking speaks for all women.

@INTP

I’m not sure what point you are making or how you think it undermines or contradicts anything I’ve said.

Whether women share my perspective on feminism or not, does not affect

(1) the fact of male sexual violence against women
(2) the justifiable fear and perception of vulnerability in women
(3) the right of women to demand that men don’t behave in a way that might make us feel vulnerable.

I hasten to add that (3) is a right that all human beings should claim about all human beings. As I said to airborne, it is just about the golden rule and treating me with the same consideration you would like for yourself. It’s up to you whether you want to live that way or not. As a humanist, I believe it better for humankind that we all strive to do so.)

I think the reason for the “objectifying” comment was because they’d been part of a group at the bar talking at length about different women’s experiences at conferences and she had made clear she doesn’t enjoy being hit on at conferences. (Watson has said he was there.. present and part of the group for this long conversation… but did not speak himself during.) It suggests he wasn’t really listening to her… and/or that he put his needs first. She did assume it was sexual innuendo… I wouldn’t invite a stranger back to my room to just chill out (but then I wouldn’t invite a stranger back to my room at all)… but that’s me… and it is an assumption. Objectifying wouldn’t have been my choice of words… but think I get why she thought it fit.

I feel like all the “worst case scenario” “could have been dangerous” was in response to people asking why an elevator isn’t the ideal location to have the first time he talks to her and then invites her back to her room thing. It’s not that he was a bad person… he just used a poor technique and did something that would annoy some women or make them uncomfortable or even vulnerable.

I have been assaulted (shoved down a flight of concrete stairs) by someone when I politely told them no they would not get an invite into my home after said next door neighbor walked home with me because I was tired and really wanted to go to bed. He said he felt he’d earned some kind of reward… and he was drunk… and I still said no maybe we could hang out some other time. He then wordlessly shoved me down a flight of stairs and glared at me from the top. Someone walking by intervened as he started down. I still generally don’t worry too much that it would happen again even though I didn’t see it coming at all then… he was just one stupid, drunk, jerk. Regardless, I like to believe most people have good intentions. But I can understand why a closed space isn’t ideal for some people for that kind of conversation.

I’m not sure anyone is claiming every woman will feel that way in that situation. It’s never a good idea to try to generalize like that or try to speak for all of a large group of people. I took “all women will feel vulnerable in certain situations” to mean that everyone has something that will make them feel vulnerable and odds are gender roles will play into some of that. Not that that any one situation will make every woman feel vulnerable.

When it comes to things that might make say even 1/10 people I talk to uncomfortable… when I learn about it… it makes me think twice about doing that thing that way the next time it comes up. I will at least try to remember to consider if that could be the result. That’s what I do. It doesn’t have to be what you do. But bringing up something making things uncomfortable for oneself and in all likelihood others isn’t a cardinal sin. It doesn’t mean that person is equating that issue with far more important issues. Take it to heart or don’t… For me it was the attitude that bringing up that she doesn’t want to be hit on by strangers in an elevator at 4am is silly that ticked me off.

The quote I provided in my reply to Pete Hague’s post and his own bad experiences on poddelusion shows why some people get the impression that feminism is about female superiority. There are those out there who think nothing of throwing around comments which are sexist or prejudiced against men while fighting for the feminist cause. Its this double standard that gives people the impression that feminism is about female superiority. Thats my example I’m sure Buffy can provide her own examples and reasons.

Just because a movement has similar goals to your own doesn’t mean that you are automatically obliged to define yourself as part of it especially if there are certain issues, views or methods that you don’t agree with. Nor does not defining yourself as part of the movement and disagreeing with it on certain issues make you some sort of traitor or ingrate.

I agree insulting people, creating straw men, putting words in people’s mouths are not okay things to do in a disagreement regardless of the topic. I don’t have respect for those methods. I hope someone would call me out if I did any of those things. I still feel that doesn’t represent the vast majority of feminists (and certainly hope not) from my experience, but I don’t begrudge you your experience. Every movement is bound to have people who think their touting values while missing the point. I think we’ve perceived different ratios. But yes that sort of thing is beyond frustrating.

I also agree that no one has to be a part of a movement they don’t feel comfortable with regardless of their reasons… I was just hoping to understand the experiences of others and share my own take. I have never said or believed a woman or man who doesn’t want to label themselves a feminist is any kind of traitor or ingrate.

@Darren Tully

You offer the quote from Susan McKay as an illustration of why some people get the impression that feminism is about female superiority. I’ve read it several times and I don’t see how it illustrates anything more than the writer’s resentment at what she perceives to be a case of sex discrimination.

I was honestly mystified as to what you objected to about the quote until I read this:

“But whats the point in campaigning for equality when you yourself are prepared to throw sexist remarks such as the balls comment? Its no different from someone saying Joan Burton is in the cabinet because she’s a safe pair of tits, both comments are sexist its a two way street.”

I’m surprised you object to the expression or consider it sexist. In what way is it sexist? ‘having balls’ (unlike tits) is generally used to mean having strength and encourage isn’t it?

Personally, I wouldn’t see either comment (balls or tits) in that particular context as sexist, just vulgar. The writer could easily have substituted ‘man’ for ‘pair of balls’ and it wouldn’t, so far as I can see, have changed the meaning, though it may have made the piece have seemed less ‘edgy’.

You then write this:

“I dont approve of Susan painting the picture of Brendan Howlin as a misogynist who used the fact that he was a man to make them give him the finance position either, its completely unfounded, and akin to someone saying Joan Burton got into the cabinet by using her “feminine wiles”.”

Well, you don’t provide a link so I don’t know what she says in the rest of the article but there is nothing in the bit you quote that justifies the accusation you make about the writer. She neither says nor implies anything of the kind about Howlin.

All of which is beside the point, that being that there is nothing in your quote that gives the impression that feminisim is about female superiority.

I wouldn’t defend condescending behaviour and language of the kind you describe and, without knowing the context, it is certainly appears hypocritical of feminists to behave in this manner. However, it says nothing about the aims of feminism as a movement!

It is all very well to talk about feminists giving this or that “impression”, but impressions are subjective. I’m looking for hard evidence, for example, academic papers or live feminist campaigns that are are more than just campaigns for basic human rights.

So far, no evidence has been forthcoming and I’m left with the impression that you are pinning personal grievances with a few individuals on to the whole feminist movement. Forgive me, but that doesn’t seem a million miles away from the claim that all men are potential rapists just because some of them are.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2011/0311/1224291883279.html

(full article)

I’ll stick my hand up and say I was wrong to make a sweeping generalization of my own opinion. I’ll own up on that, and I appologise if it came across as being arrogant or condescending towards you.

To me, from the aggressive tone and the fact that she said that Joan Burton didn’t get the job because a man wanted it, the balls remark was made purely in the anatomical sense, he has testicles, he’s a man, that’s why he has the job. And I find that very derisive what it says to me is this person wants respect from one group but isn’t prepared to show it in return. I dont agree with your view that it could be a compliment saying he had fortitude since in the very same sentence she said he was not qualified for the job.

Like I said it gives an impression of a double standard and like it or not bad impressions are damning,something that causes offence will in many cases overshadow something that does good, and as a result people will form negative and opinions turn away because they don’t want to be associated with it. Like Buffy, I am also an atheist who prefers not to label himself as an atheist, because as much as I admire Richard Dawkins as a scientist I dont admire him as a spokesperson for atheism and dont want to be associated with the arrogant, disrespectful and condescending way carries himself when dealing with people of faith.

Thanks, Darren. I didn’t think you came across at all arrogant or condescending. Just mistaken. 😉

I agree with your general point about demanding respect but not according it to others.

Alright sorry for posting so much but here’s one last thing.

I’m always a little sad when I talk to someone who is not comfortable giving themselves an atheist label because of their experiences and beliefs about what kind of people are in the atheist movement. For me I meet the definition and I hope to contribute positively to the community even if I don’t agree with everything everyone in the movement does or says… some methods I really don’t like. When name calling, rudeness, taunting, etc happen I hate it… because I don’t feel like it accomplishes anything and undermines what I hope to get across. I think it’s important to be a part of it because even if slights against my rights that occur in the U.S. pale in comparison to atrocities done in the name of religion/superstitions elsewhere I can have an impact here and on a good day maybe make someone think and maybe even find a way to help with those bigger issues further away. I can temper the voices of those whose methods I don’t agree with with my own… and I wish that those refusing the label (not because they don’t share the underlying beliefs that go with the label but because they think the movement is flawed by people who do a poor job of communicating) would throw their voices in the mix… because I think it would make the movement stronger.

Similarly when I see someone who hates the man-hating or asking for special privilege they perceive or have seen as a part of the feminist movement and avoid the label for that reason I see it as sad. I agree that those are things that are directly counter to feminism/humanism and if that person also wants equal rights for everyone regardless of gender and wants to respect personal differences on that spectrum… I feel they match my ideal of the feminist movement very well… I am sad they don’t want to throw their voices in the mix and I ask to try to understand why… to see what maybe I can do to get those voices involved. I think it would make the movement stronger and more on point.

That being said I get avoiding a label with stigma… and I get fatigue with battling/arguing/disagreeing on a topic. I’m not saying anyone should have to… I just hope to hear as many great voices out there as there can be.

The issue of using double standards and hypocrisy, which came out well in full form,, during this whole Watson issue. You can see much of the same behavior on PZ’s new article about a girl who was denied sole award of valedictorian, according to the news source, because of racism. When it was shown there were other factors involved, or people mentioned “we shouldn’t jump to conclusions without all the facts” or “maybe it was due to something else” people spared no time in flinging “you’re part of the problem” fallacies.

I beg to differ. Jumping to conclusions without getting all the facts have lead to more problems or racism, sexism, discrimination, etc, than have to wait for all the facts to come out before forming an opinion or coming to a conclusion. It’s these juvenile knee-jerk reactions, double standards and hyocrisy that has hijacked the feminist movement. Ironically, one commentor who jumped on that bandwagon also equated “teenage mom” as a slut. Where was the outcry against that?

It only takes reading the myriad of comments on several of these blogs, over this whole elevator issue, to see why a lot of women are disassociating themselves as “feminists” and instead, adhering to the label of “equalists”. It’s also easy to see why some men, and other women, find it hard to take these people seriously.

I left this out in the first paragraph: people jumped on the assumptions based on what was reported in a news article. I believe we’ve see well enough just a few weeks ago how well news media gets their facts straight before reporting something. There were news outlets who assumed the Oslo shooter was a Muslem. Stereotyping, there.

I have a question for the OP.

One thing that annoys me about many of RW’s defenders is their assumption that EG only wanted sex.

Do you think that it is okay to flat out proposition a woman for sex in an elevator? Do you think that most women feel that way? Do you think that EG was probably making a flat out proposition for sex?

I am engaged in a debate over this elevatorgate affair and the whole basis of my argument is that it is common sense that flat out cold propositions are not welcome by women.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2011/10/02/elevatorgate-challenge-1/

I feel like maybe your defense of EG contradicts my own assumptions? Some input would be great. Thank you.

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