Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Much Ado About Nothing - Atheist Elevator Edition

Since I read assorted atheist blogs I couldn't help but notice a big controversy in the atheist blogosphere. Here's a brief summary of what touched it off. Rebecca Watson of Skepchick posted about an experience that bothered her. She was at an event and some guy propositioned her in an elevator late at night. She turned him down, and he went away. But she complained that what he did was inappropriate. Ok, no big deal so far. Then PZ Myers posted about it at Pharyngula. Commenter opinion was split as to whether she made good points or was a hypersensitive whiner. But then Richard Dawkins himself showed up, and ridiculed Watson in his patented sneering, over-the-top fashion, comparing her complaint to the horrible life and death issues faced by other women. Since then various atheists have weighed-in, and assorted perpetually outraged feminists have lined up to attack Dawkins and anyone who dares criticize Watson. Watson herself has apparently bought into the brain-poison of feminist ideology as exemplified by her post, "The Privilege Delusion." For example,
Richard Dawkins believes I should be a good girl and just shut up about being sexually objectified because it doesn’t bother him. Thanks, wealthy old heterosexual white man!
This is what happens to logical reasoning when your subscribe to the religious-like dogma of feminism. To someone not afflicted by its poison, Dawkins' wealth, sexuality and race are completely unnecessary to understand what he was saying. His comment had nothing to do with "privilege," the meaning of which has been disitorted by feminist ideology, which employs it as a type of ad-hominem against those who disagree. Even his gender is irrelevant. It is quite possible that a poor, young lesbian black woman could have said exactly the same thing. Anyone could think that a woman complaining about a harmless advance was being too sensitive. That position doesn't require you to be a rich, white, heterosexual male.

Whether or not Watson's complaint about being hit on was reasonable given the circumstances, or overly sensitive whining is simply a matter of opinion. Dawkin's response makes him a jerk because of the extreme way he went about it. But that's really all there is to it. The fact that Dawkins behaved like a jerk and launched an over-the-top attack on Watson says nothing at all about anything beyond his particular actions in this case.


  1. I disagree with your characterization of feminism.

    Also, I don't know if I would even go so far as to call Dawkins a jerk for his response. Maybe I have thick skin, but I just wasn't that offended by characterizing the complaint in the context of actual abuse against women.

  2. There are good and bad aspects of feminism. The feminist ideology I'm talking about is the one that sees everything through a particular dogmatic view of the relationship between men and women. If you've read much feminist stuff you know what I'm talking about even if you disagree with my characterization.

    I thought his comment was over-the-top and unnecessary. Maybe Watson was being a little too sensitive, but given the overall situation she described, I can understand how she viewed that proposition in the elevator.

    In other words, in my opinion Dawkins' reaction was way out of proportion to what Watson said, and the way he did it was pretty harsh. On the other hand, it was just a comment on a blog, where harsh responses tend to be the norm, so you may have a point.

  3. Richard Dawkins: good biologist, bad jokester.

  4. Yeah. Also when you are as prominent a figure as Richard Dawkins, your words are going to attract a lot of attention. So he might want to think twice before he comments on someone's blog.

  5. Dawkins response had everything to do with privilege; he only considers what happened to Watson to be no big deal because he's never been propositioned for sex in an elevator at four in the morning by someone who can overpower you if you refuse. That is all the form of feminism that you seem to hate is about.

  6. Anon,

    Thanks for illustrating how feminist ideology damages logical reasoning ability and leads to unfounded assumptions. Are you a mind reader? Is that how you know why Dawkins made his comment?

    Again, there are various reasons why someone might think that what happened to Watson to be no big deal. Only someone blinded by ideology held with the fervor of religious belief could fail to understand that. That's what I don't like about that form of feminism.

    I'm someone who has never been propositioned for sex in an elevator at four in the morning by someone who could overpower me if I refused. Yet somehow I have no problem understanding how Watson could be creeped out and made fearful by such a proposition. But that's because I try to think and analyze things based on the merits of each case, rather than jumping to conclusions based purely on an ideological outlook.