Friday, July 8, 2011

A Woman's View on the Atheist Elevator Incident

In my earlier post I mentioned that Dawkins' reaction could have come from anyone, depending on how they viewed the incident, and that it was unreasonable to assume that his age, race, social status or gender somehow had to account for his comment. Naturally I had an anonymous commenter show up and claim that no, it was all about "privilege," demonstrating the exact type of ideological tunnel-vision that leads me to characterize a certain brand of feminism as "brain poison." While surfing the internet I came across another column about the incident that is every bit as dismissive of Watson as Dawkins, more so in fact, as the title indicates: "When Women Confuse Being Asked Out With Being Raped At Knifepoint In An Elevator." It's the opinion of a woman, who must be affected by some sort of "privilege."
Basically, at 4 a.m., some guy at a conference committed the heinous crime of asking her out while riding the elevator with her.... I couldn't believe it. That was why people were going after Richard Dawkins, because he made light of what a big deal she made of it ...

Here's how this plays out for a woman whose entire existence doesn't revolve around being a victim, women as victims, and seeing men as victimizers of women every time they open their mouths or so much as salt their food:

A guy asks you out. You're not interested. Say, "Thanks, think I'm going to turn in." Forget it happened.

Here we have a situation where I, an older male, am actually more sympathetic and understanding of Watson's complaint than this woman.* But that's how things work in the real world. People have different opinions about things. Those opinions are rarely determined by age, race, social class or gender. The differences between individuals usually trumps broad attempts to categorize people based on ideological dogma.

*I'm sympathetic to how she felt about being propositioned in an elevator at 4am, not to her ludicrous overreaction to Dawkins.


  1. When I disagree with someone I find it best to focus on the argument itself. Absurd? Possibly. Useful? Definitely.

    Even if the other person's opinion is clouded by race or class it is typically counter productive to point it out.

  2. "When I disagree with someone I find it best to focus on the argument itself."

    If only that were a more common attitude.

  3. I have some really conflicting opinions about the concept of privilege. Being influenced by your position in life certainly effects how you view things (such as whether you are straight, white, black or homosexual etc), but it isn't the only part of a personality that informs someone's response.

    The example you cited, where a woman was more critical of Rebecca than yourself, was perfect.

    I have this strange hobby of going to feminist websites and watching the fallout over basically every subject possible. You could make a post about kittens being cute at Feministe and be eviserated for your privileged position. It's terribly entertaining.

    It's as if the only way to win an argument or make a point is to be a poor, black, lesbian in a wheel chair.

    I've seen a black woman rant 'check your white privilege' in the comments (she stated she was black) to another commenter, who then replied that she was actually black as well...slightly awkward for the inital commenter.

  4. This is all crazy and I'm amazed how it's blown up into something far more important than it is