We Expect Christians to Have Thick Skins...
…but the feminist wing of the atheist movement has just had a “skin ulcer moment.” And it’s by no means the first time.
A month ago, I was surprised and dismayed at what transpired after I made a comment on Greta Christina’s Facebook page questioning her position about the David Eller flap. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for Greta, and I think her writings on sexuality are unparalleled. I thought we were on the same team, and could therefore survive an honest disagreement. She ended up calling me a “flouncing troll” after 100-odd comments in which her Facebook friends ripped me apart like dogs for suggesting that maybe, just maybe, it was true that a pretty and intelligent atheist would make a good spokesperson for our movement on video. David Eller was forced to apologize for saying just that.
Now comes Skepchick (Rebecca Watson) complaining (and making a big deal about it) that some guy got into the elevator with her, and asked her to his room for coffee at 4 am at an atheist conference, and this was “creepy.” She turned him down, and, as Hemant Mehta so eloquently said, this should have been the end of the matter.
But, I’m discovering feminism in the atheist community is something like nitroglycerine. Say the wrong thing, express a different opinion, and you’re toast. Now, apparently, so is Richard Dawkins. And this is where I say emphatically this shit is totally out of hand. Most of us men fall somewhere in between the feminist ideal and raping, knuckle-dragging, mouth breathing misogynists. Yet from the comments of the offended woman and her defenders, which include PZ Myers, it would seem that anything other than full-throated condemnation of the elevator interloper is unacceptable. This is a form of intellectual fascism and I won’t be bullied by it. It makes me want to have nothing whatsoever to do with these particular women or their wing of the atheist movement.
Which is a shame, because we agree on far more than we disagree. But today they have completely lost my respect.
It’s worth reading the spot-on sarcastic comments of Richard Dawkins who–it seems–is also headed for troll status with the feminatheists:
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 . . .
And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
The “feminist” response to Dawkins follows:
Did you just make the argument that, since worse things are happening somewhere else, we have no right to try to fix things closer to home?
At which point Dawkins just nails it:
No I wasn’t making that argument. Here’s the argument I was making. The man in the elevator didn’t physically touch her, didn’t attempt to bar her way out of the elevator, didn’t even use foul language at her. He spoke some words to her. Just words. She no doubt replied with words. That was that. Words. Only words, and apparently quite polite words at that.
If she felt his behaviour was creepy, that was her privilege, just as it was the Catholics’ privilege to feel offended and hurt when PZ nailed the cracker. PZ didn’t physically strike any Catholics. All he did was nail a wafer, and he was absolutely right to do so because the heightened value of the wafer was a fantasy in the minds of the offended Catholics. Similarly, Rebecca’s feeling that the man’s proposition was ‘creepy’ was her own interpretation of his behaviour, presumably not his. She was probably offended to about the same extent as I am offended if a man gets into an elevator with me chewing gum. But he does me no physical damage and I simply grin and bear it until either I or he gets out of the elevator. It would be different if he physically attacked me.
Muslim women suffer physically from misogyny, their lives are substantially damaged by religiously inspired misogyny. Not just words, real deeds, painful, physical deeds, physical privations, legally sanctioned demeanings. The equivalent would be if PZ had nailed not a cracker but a Catholic. Then they’d have had good reason to complain.
Absolutely!!!! If agreeing with Dawkins makes me misogynist, then hate me and bring it on. The feminists have a right to their opinion, but if they are honest they must admit their view is totally subjective. In fact, it goes pretty far toward the demonization of men by calling them “creepy.” There are certainly guys who are “creepy.” There are certainly guys who engage in obnoxious and brazen come-ons. But in this case, all “creepy” means is “made an unwanted verbal advance.”
Men are at a distinct disadvantage in this game since they always have to deal with the high likelihood of rejection, something women have far less experience with. This is not a moral or progressive issue, or one of respect. This is an issue of equality. It’s an issue of recognizing (for once and for all) that women have the goods men want.
In that sense there will never be equality. Women will always to a certain extent be objects–because they have vaginas. Sex is a commodity that is bartered for in a number of ways, and yes–tragically stolen by men at times.
But the fact that some men range from creeps to full-blown monsters does not mean that other men are not completely within their rights to attempt to negotiate and strike whatever bargain they can to keep their penises happy. And that also means women get to say “no” and as long as the guy is polite and leaves the woman alone, he has done nothing wrong or anti-feminist. He may have been clumsy, or simply not attractive, but that should not be a crime.
Nor even an offense.
I’ve heard the arguments about safety, and how we men don’t realize that women are afraid in public spaces. Of course men realize that. Unless we’re black belts or body builders and/or have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, men are one thug away from being mugged, stabbed or shot in the city. The world is a dangerous place.
But it is up to every individual to determine when a situation is or is not threatening. By Skepchick’s own admission, the situation was non-threatening. So the safety argument does not apply. Saying it does in absence of threatening behavior is misandry, and it is collective punishment.
Unfortunately, this does call for the phrase “grow up.” If women want to be equals–instead of just demanding equality–then they should start by recognizing there are evolutionary imperatives at play. Sure, men need to work at improving their pitch. Some who may not be violent or threatening are nonetheless woefully rude, and tone-deaf to the shortcomings of their flirtations. But every woman also has to gain the maturity to handle and deflect unwanted come-ons with good humor. It’s part of being a self-aware human being with a vagina–and therefore a part of gender equality.
I think this brouhaha is a terrible tragedy for the atheist movement. I think Skepchick just made a colossal fool of herself. And, frankly, shame on those who doubled down on the foolishness.
Now bring on the nitroglycerine.