Stuck in an elevator, with Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins, the atheist almighty, has in a fury thrown some rhetorical thunderbolts at someone he disagrees with. This wouldn't be in the least bit surprising except for the fact that his disagreement isn't over the existence of a higher being or the significance of religion. No, he's pissed off that a female atheist has dared to complain about unwanted advances from a male nonbeliever.

It all started with a video blog from Rebecca Watson, founder of Skepchick, about her experience at an atheist conference last month in Dublin. She participated in a panel in which she talked about the problem of sexism among atheists, and the rape threats she had received from men in the community who don't agree with her. Importantly, Dawkins was on the panel and the guy who went on to hit on her was in the audience. Afterward, she went to the hotel bar with conference-goers until 4 a.m., when she told everyone that she was tired and wanted to go to bed. A male attendee followed her out of the bar and into the elevator, where he 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?" This is what she had to say about the encounter:

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.

That's all. It took up just over a minute of an 8-minute-long video. She didn't call for the man to be castrated or claim to be a victim of great injustice; all she expressed was that his overture made her feel "incredibly uncomfortable," and that guys should generally avoid doing that. "That" being 1) hitting on a woman after she has gone to great lengths to explain why she doesn't want to be sexualized within the atheist community, and 2) ignoring her remark that she is tired and just wants to go to bed. PZ Myers, a biologist who pens the bookmark-worthy skeptics blog Pharyngula, wrote a post about it and then Dawkins himself -- the rock star of atheism -- waded into the comments thread with a satirical letter addressed to a Muslim woman:

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and ... yawn ... don't tell me yet again, I know you aren't allowed to drive a car, and you can't leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you'll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.

Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep"chick", and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn't lay a finger on her, but even so...

Who knew Dawkins had such flair for creative writing -- and for being a dick? OK, so, many people had already concluded the latter from his atheistic pomp -- but, being an arrogant nonbeliever myself, I resisted such a reading of him until now. He's of course correct that there are much worse things going on in the world, but that's a crap rhetorical move meant to belittle and silence. It's an argument that could be easily made against Dawkins' own work: Why are you arguing over whether God exists while children are starving in Africa.

[. . .]

He went on to make fun of Watson's defenders who have pointed out that she was "stuck" in the elevator with the man, whom she hasn't directly spoken with until then: "No escape? I am now really puzzled. Here's how you escape from an elevator. You press any one of the buttons conveniently provided."

Clearly, Dawkins has never experienced what it's like to carry around the fear of sexual assault, as most women do on some level. Myers helpfully explains why fear in this particular situation would be understandable: "Try googling 'elevator rape'. [. . .] All that said, though, it actually sounds like Watson didn't feel threatened by the man, only creeped out. Remember: All Watson did was briefly call out a behavior that made her uncomfortable; and later, she criticized the outsized anger she received in response to that original aside. (Tracy Clark-Flory, “Richard Dawkins: Skeptic of Women,” Salon, 8 July 2011)

Felling good men

His problem is that he is healthy enough to be attracted to literate, liberal women; ones who, yes, have shown some hurt -- it's not quite equal terms -- you can imagine yourself soothing, but who certainly aren't defined by it. If he was retrograde and went for a social class we are as a whole a bit ambivalent if maybe they don't actually DESERVE their whatever afflictions -- like waitresses, barmaids, clerks -- he'd of had to have had a whole line-up of them, AND been in a social position where we've decided we'd had enough of his saintliness and wanted to see downed for at least a bit, before anyone would care: in fact, he'd been seen as doing something of a required social service: reminding the lowly of just how low and humiliation-deserving they are.

Dawkins is a very good man. A very strong man, of the kind, like Paul Krugman, that frustrate people who actually want to submerge themselves in a regressed mental state, without any sane "external" present to remind them of their actually quite sickly inclinations. If Dawkins is downed here, the message is out: time for other legendary, larger-than-life, ostensibly "pompous" boomer types like Roger Ebert and Krugman, whose unchecked self-assurance and self-esteem we have long been getting irritated at but couldn't see downed previously owing to our dependency on their strength, to be waylayed. This will be oh so easy to do: because their first inclination has never been to do safely within what society has deemed okay: they actually have the temerity to lead, to follow their largely good impulses, unchecked.

I think you're possibly broken, Tracy. A liberal, probably like the afflicted writer here, assured to do well because there won't be much true resistance "there." You'll help take down actual good men, leaving those who know how to tend your needs in ways you find immediately satisfying, but are quite sinister. You'd take down those few around who could actually lift you up.

It was probably to the writer's discredit that she DIDN'T take him up on his offer. Someone should write an article about that.

- - - - -


Looking fromn the photo at how geeky Dawkins is I'm certain he's had to deal with a lifetime of rejections by women. Guys like him who gain a position where they can lash back often times take the opportunity to do so with gusto.

Dawkins obviously harbors many years of resentment towards women and his angry over-reaction against this woman reflects all of that pent up hurt. It explains his juvenile behavior, but it does NOT excuse it.

Time for Dawkins to grow up & man up! (Ramparts)


re: Looking fromn the photo at how geeky Dawkins is I'm certain he's had to deal with a lifetime of rejections by women. Guys like him who gain a position where they can lash back often times take the opportunity to do so with gusto.

Dawkins obviously harbors many years of resentment towards women and his angry over-reaction against this woman reflects all of that pent up hurt. It explains his juvenile behavior, but it does NOT excuse it.

Salon picked an unflattering photo -- it wanted to make sport of this good man. At some point, be assured, it will do the same to other good men -- or as it'll make them seem, "douches" -- like Krugman and Ebert. Any ebullient, more-or-less happy baby-boomer who stands as an irritant to this age which wants fundamentally bullied people -- like smoker, lack-of-affect Obama -- to serve as its lords, its "allowance" of how jolly and self-satisfied you're allowed to be, can expect to be disposed for some kind of inexcusable behavior. I've said before that eventually it's going to happen here to former Salon editor Joan Walsh, and that friends of hers, people like TCF, are going to find themselves torn between the good part of themselves that wants to support her and the bad part of them that is telling them she deserves her fall for pretending to so damned much! (TCF, though less enthusiastically than MEW, will of course ultimately lapse to the dark side.)

My guess is that Dawkins scared this woman because she's not used to close encounters with mostly EMOTIONALLY MATURE men; not so much geeks, but their opposite. His goodness and openess and genuine interest in her company made him an alien species (it really could have been coffee and conversation; he does have some issues, but he's mostly actually sensitive to your discomfort, your prefences, and a gentleman). It is precisely the fact that there was amazingly no stalkerness about him, even with all the 4 am-alone-in-an-elevator-in-a-strange-country-after-spooky-stories-and-rape-talk stuff, that bothered, that scared her. (She likely threw in "foreign country" to provision more armory in her war against her own self-knowledge of his fundamental innocence and her own inquisition-worthy skittishness.) He's too much the person she could only dream of being; she knows at some level she runs away from exactly what she should be more inclined -- at least -- to close with; and she felt need to humiliate him for making bare what she does not want to face about herself.

He lashed out at her because he knows she is one to ENTIRELY DISPOSE of someone, if need be, just to rid herself of some discomfort. She's the "Atonement" girl who'll never cue herself to grow up, because we keep telling her how marvelously brave and evolved she is, and she feels so shallowly constituted that her only option is to listen.

- - - - -


Well, I've just learned that Dawkins was not the "accoster." I so assumed it I blurred my way through the evidence. I took this as a prompt to actually watch the video as well.

So my guess is now that she was not attracted to this guy; she was repulsed by him -- and I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out he was a creepy, because I suspect he is the kind of guy who is perhaps foremost attracted to victimizable women: people like Rebecca, who communicates in her every exaggerated kick-ass gesture that the world foremost is a threat to her.

Seeing the video, is it possible to imagine Dawkins being attracted to her? I would say actually a bit yes. Even though I stand by my assessment of him as MOSTLY well-souled and mature, there's enough of the hurt geek in his well-expanded-upon personality (as there is in other wondrous "douches," like Ebert and Krugman) to be drawn to pretty, clearly-vulnerable coltish women, charmingly making every effort to insist themselves all grown up. If he had, she would have spurned him, but not as effortlessly just lambasted him -- even with him being a married man and all. She's kinda the "Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest," and he's the man she's never really known who'd, not only mostly do no harm, but mostly provision the opposite.

In any event ... The most important thing to note IS that it is likely time for good-souled baby-boomers to take their fall (it is appropriate that this guy mostly remain anonymous, and Dawkins to stand out so for our accosting). Their well-being and self-satisfaction makes them an affront to our consolidating Depression mindset; serves as a reminder of the kind of tasty goods whose eager partaking, foremost doomed us. Rebecca and her ilk can accuse and destroy because establishments know they can just assume them, just so long as they ensure they can go about their ostensibly righteous destruction against ostensibly horribly-empowered opponents without reprisals; with ample evidence of the prowess of their firm refutation of misogyny. When they "fightback," their opponents will only be let known their defeat: for this repeated satisfaction, Rebecca and her ilk will, unlike their feminist predecessors, unlike people like Joan Walsh and Geraldine Ferraro, will only now be slaves of the establishment.

The man was creepy and not "creepy," because you all are to know that if you get in the way of people like her, you will be managed so that we have every right to go after you -- the only important point is that you stood in her way. We're not about journalism or fairness, but prejudgment, reality-creation, and executing the sentence. This isn't a time for fairness, but about wholy hypocritical and completely unthwarted exercise of power. We'll all be food for "it," and it's all we deserve.

Why are people bothered by "creepy"?

Why is this woman being attacked for calling a guy creepy? It's not like she said "HE'S A RAPIST!" or "HOW DARE HE!" She was just saying that after a talking about how unwanted those types of approaches are all day it was kind of disheartening and sort of creepy to be hit on in an elevator. (M.Fast)


People are objecting to "creepy" because we're all hearing the word applied now, not in service to precision and fact, but to communicate that what we're up to is not really so much a matter of conversation but about repeatedly cuing how we're LONG past the point of debate and simply into the execution of sentence. Those out there who fit well with tyranny -- and decimated specimens, warped, insecure feminists like Rebecca do because they can be purchased so easily by guaranteeing them satisfying reprisals to male enemies (and their stupid, servile female defenders) that will never stop making their appearance -- increasingly intuit that they will be given unchecked license to "resolve" every inner tension by unleashing wrath upon deserving "victims," and are cuing us all to this fact while enjoying their practice run -- their first exercise completely outside restraint -- by applying the word "creepy" to near every man in sight. As they grow more sure, the usage might well lessen, but each use will spell out more doom.

Link: Richard Dawkins: Skeptic of Women (Salon)


Popular posts from this blog

Full conversation about "Bringing Up Baby" at the NewYorker Movie Facebook Club

Review of "the Snowman"