Open Thread

Here's a topic for you to discuss: I fucking hate open threads. Open a forum or message board or chatroom on your blog if that's what you want. Don't muddy up your rss feed with weekly posts that just say "open thread." Dag, man.


No Soliciting

New sign I posted on our storm door:

We will not buy,
sign, vote for,
worship or debate
with you about any
products, services,
politics, faiths,
or afterlife theories
offered door-to-door
including but
not limited to:


Don't Take This The Wrong Way: The Elevatorgate Romantic Comedy

According to Wikipedia and an Irish medical student I used to correspond with, "culchie" is the Irish equivalent to the term "redneck" in the US. Country folk. It can be pejorative, but some people have reclaimed the term culchie and intentionally apply it to themselves, just like some rednecks in the US do.

Rory Calhoun is just a name I made up, imagining that this unidentified "elevator guy" was a Dubliner since the conference was held there. "All persons living and dead are purely coincidental, and should not be construed." - Vonnegut

Seriously now, I agree that the atheist community is probably no less sexist or racist or heterosexist than the larger society we're a part of, or not much less. I'm sure there are actual sexist things that people say and do to Rebecca Watson at conferences or anywhere else. I agree that if atheists expect to be treated fairly, we should push for other groups to be treated fairly, whether it's women or ethnic or racial minorities or LGBTQTs. (Get it, QT = cutie?) We should call out sexism when we see it. I agree with a lot of points Watson made in her panel, although she sounded like she somehow expected people not to make trolling inflamatory comments or videos on youtube. Welcome to the Internet. First day here? Here there be trolls. Not that I approve of the way trolls behave, but you get to the point where you know it's going to happen and hopefully it stops bothering you. You wouldn't expect comments on a youtube video or controversial subject posted on a blog to be widely viewed and still free from trolling or racism or sexism, any more than you'd expect not to be hit on by a person coming out of a bar with you at 4 in the morning. Ooops. Maybe I have really weird expectations.

Anyway, it's fascinating how you can see bloggers and vloggers retelling the story and tweaking it to make it sound better or worse depending on their perspective. Elevator guy sounds more and more like a stalker as they embellish the story, always playing up the fact that the guy hit on her at 4AM, that she was alone in a foreign country in an elevator, playing down the fact that she just came out of a bar with this guy at 4 AM, that she was a woman in a foreign country in a bar until 4 AM. I'm not saying people who sit in bars late at night deserve whatever you want to throw at them, but how naive do you have
to be to expect people not to hit on you at a bar? How much milder could this proposition be than with a disclaimer at the start like "DON'T TAKE THIS THE WRONG WAY, BUT..." I'm not going to suggest that sex or petting wasn't on his mind, but how much more meekly and respectfully could he have expressed it?

Now it's not the elevator that makes it a sexist act, right? That part might be scary, but I don't see how the elevator makes it sexist. The fact that he asked her to his hotel room after she had said earlier in the day that she hates getting propositioned at conferences, is what's supposed to be sexist. So what's the time limit? Don't ask her for a date during a conference, she already said she doesn't like that. Don't ask her for a date later on the same day of the conference? Don't ask her for a date the next day? If you ever saw her at a conference, you shouldn't ask her out because it would diminish how seriously you might have been taking her last year at that conference?

Watson said in an interview on Citizen Radio (omfg, why did I bother to listen to even a portion of an interview about this?) that she doesn't oppose sex. She didn't mention a vow of celibacy at the conference. But when could a reasonable person make the overture, in a way that she would find fair or respectable? Jamie and Allison on made it clear that this guy shouldn't have come on to her at that point because if Watson had been interested, then she would have shown her interest earlier, or she would have made the first move.

Word to the wise, guys: don't do that. Don't ask a woman out on a date. Ever again. Because you are sexualizing her.

Sorry to break character, but everyone who has sex with each other or innocently goes a-courting with the intention of one day getting married and having sex is sexualizing each other, sexually objectifying each other. Apparently that part is okay. But how do you start the ball rolling without being accused of sexualizing her, you misogynist? Answer: you shut up and wait for the woman to make the move. She sexualizes you, and then you're allowed to respond. Women are allowed to sexualize, because they know how to do it right. Men who do it are being sexist, just don't get it, are failing to understand what women go through. Also you shouldn't form an opinion about the Vietnam War because you weren't there, man, you don't know what it was like, you couldn't possibly understand.

Yes, there are plenty of sexist pigs making knee-jerk reactions about Elevatorgate, but I think this angle is why it has elicited so much response. Because where do you draw the line? In as far as it is acceptable in some circumstance for a man and woman to respectfully agree to share orgasms with each other, when is it fair for a man to hint at that possibility, and when would he be reasonably considered sexist for doing that? If it was just the elevator or the time of night, and if sex is not forbidden, then there must be some other place or time when it would have been acceptable. It still would have been sexually objectifying her though. If you are a living human being with a mother and father who loved each other, then they were "guilty" of sexually objectifying each other, and that's how you came into the world. Not the stork or the cabbage patch.

The real question is: what time of day or circumstance is acceptable to let someone know that you are sexually objectifying them? Did she drop some hint at the conference or at the bar that she was off-limits for that night? Is there a certain number of days that you should assume a woman wants to remain celibate after she talks about getting rape threats on email? Yeah, that's very off-putting. The internet is very off-putting. Have you ever seen Goatse or Two Girls, One Cup? I don't know how many hours after seeing those things you would want to try to eat lunch, or make out with someone. Your mileage may vary. I don't think Watson is following EPA standards for determining mileage, if you follow my metaphor. I think she needs to recalibrate.