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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Elevator Guy Versus Glasses Girl


I'm a bit late to the party, but I could not help jumping on the proverbial bandwagon of commentary to the blogosphere's latest gossip.

The characters are: Richard Dawkins, celebrated evolutionary biologist and atheist activist; Rebecca Watson, Feminist atheist blogger; Elevator guy, to whom nobody knows but is conveniently used by all, and lastly the miscellaneous chorus of bloggers, oppressed Muslim women, rape-survivors, PUAs, and other randos.

Here's the happenstance: Feminist Atheist blogger Rebecca Watson was hit on by a guy in an elevator. It was 4 AM, after a long night of conference speeches and partying in Dublin, Ireland, when a man stepped into the hotel elevator with Rebecca and said these words: "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?"

FULL STOP. SOMEONE CALL THE POLICE.THIS WOMAN IS IN DANGER! HOLY SHIT SHE'S ABOUT TO BE...

Wait, wait wait! Nothing happened.

Seriously???

Seriously. She said no. The elevator stopped at her floor. She exited. Presumably Elevator Guy did not go with her. There was no coffee, no exchange of interesting ideas --  no whoopie. There was only the slightly awkward end to an otherwise decent evening.

(Whew)

Until Rebecca made this video. Which I would compare in level of attention whoring drama-queen bleh to this video. Now, the blogosphere's blown up over the issue, with reigning websites delivering their blow-for-blow takes on the encounter. Notably Gawker, Stef McGraw, and PZ Meyers.

All of them raise very valid points regarding the encounter. However, the most important thing I want to know is: where is Elevator Guy!? I want to hear from the man himself, who is probably scratching his head wondering how his innocuous actions could be so elevated to the level of ideological conflict; that his simple desire for caffeinated beverages and possible sexual gratification would ever become something so incredibly misunderstood, misinterpreted, and, dare I say, misused by others to elevate themselves upon the activist pulpit.

But let it not be said that I'm not understanding of a woman's plight! I get that in an enclosed space, in a foreign city, with a strange dude, that any expression of attraction -- even the most sincere and least aggressive -- is going to be taken at Worst Case Scenario, seen as suspect instantly and without question. I get that for a woman alone, life can be pretty scary because Bad Shit does happen. (My girlfriend regularly tells me about it, all the time.)

But this is not that situation. This isn't some dark alleyway, or automobile back-seat. This is a hotel elevator, a hotel elevator that has buttons! And those buttons can take you to a place where there are people, people who can be asked for help, who can call the police. And this guy is not a rapist-in-waiting (evidence by the fact that nothing happened) indeed most men are not rapists just waiting to rape. And this point needs to be stressed, because too often women and men will give in to rational fear until it becomes irrational paranoia to the point of paralysis.

Contrary to Rebecca Watson's assertion, "be attracted to people! Flirt, have fun, make friends, have sex, meet the love of your life, whatever floats your boat" it seems that yes, Feminists often want to outlaw sexuality. Because sexual attraction cannot exist weighed down by such gravitas as Privilege, Power, Feminism, Misogyny, and other ideological labels. Simply put: people do not go about hooking up while thinking about if they're being oppressed in the situation or not.

(But if you don't try to bone me, I'll hate you for that too)

(And if you're wondering why it seems that Feminists often want to outlaw sexuality, well besides the probable cause that many of them simply do not get laid enough -- due to an overwhelming trend that the really vocal Feminists look extremely unattractive -- there is always the observation that perhaps they simply do not like normal male-to-female interactions. They don't fit the Feminist dogma. They're often guys pursuing girls, and those girls submitting to the guy that manages to get through the vetting process and convince them that said guy is worth a makeout, maybe more.)

That Rebecca, Richard, and others took this situation to the Oppression Olympics is both depressing, and hilariously ironic. Depressing because the poor Muslim women Dawkins' is talking about are still being oppressed, and the women Watson is referring to who are afraid of possibly being raped are still living in fear. But it's also ironic because Watson, Dawkins, and many others are supposed to be "rational", quote-unquote skeptics, atheists. They're supposed to be free from this sort of dramatic bullshit. At least, that's certainly how they've always attempted to present themselves.

And now we see them showing their ass, shit-stains and all.

Well, for my part I am comfortably confused by it. However I would like to take a moment to illustrate that while Dawkins did no good in making a comparative analysis of the situation, vis a vi Watson to Muslim women -- since comparative suffering does not negate suffering -- Watson is also, frankly speaking, a whiny little brat an over-privileged upper-class White women living in a world where even her most trivial hurts are the subject of worldwide debate, entitled to hordes of supporters crying out for some sort of effigy-burning, male-bashing, Haagen-Dazs eating marathon.

Let's face it, she is. There can be no other reason for the level of attention this is receiving.

Watson's encounter on the elevator was, to quote Dawkins "zero bad". As in, NOTHING HAPPENED TO HER. So while I can understand her initial reaction of discomfort and possible fear of potential... things, the fact remains that at the end of the night she was fine! She wasn't raped, wasn't assaulted, wasn't even so much as threatened by insinuation from the guy's pinkie finger!

So why is it that she's so upset after-the-fact at Elevator Guy for the potential actions he could've done and the implications she imagined that made her uncomfortable? Haven't we seen that since nothing happened, her fear and discomfit turned out to be irrational after all? Couldn't she just admit to herself that perhaps she reacted on impulse, and maybe needs to act more rationally in the future?


Questions like these are important, and highlight that her going home and putting this Elevator Guy on blast via YouTube is really lame. It is childish theatrics. In retrospect shouldn't someone as rational as she is be able to see that she overreacted? I guess I hope for too much... Paranoid atheist Feminists with a large blogging base seem to be frighteningly similar to demagogues.

But more importantly, the larger discussion has been lost in the echoes and din of the crowd. Nobody, in all their excellent wisdom and bloggings seem fit to say anything at all about the fact that we're debating a social interaction through a subjective lens. This isn't something "logical"; this is something completely and totally personal. We don't have Elevator Guy's side of the story, and we also weren't there to judge how creepy versus how not-creepy he was, which is in itself a loaded and subjective judgement.

Maybe Watson is just bad with men? Maybe Elevator Guy was drunk? Maybe both of them were drunk, and tired at 4 AM, and consequently unable to judge the situation correctly? It's heavily implied that Watson had been drinking, and so her judgment is certainly open to suspicion.

But it all comes back to the fact that this is a subjective situation, and social norms in different parts of the world are frankly different than our own. That Rebecca Watson goes to another country and misjudges one guy's attempt at seduction -- apparently in a monumental way, given the assumptions she made about rape and the like -- is a testament to that straight-up, oh-so American ignorance. Moreover, the people debating this topic seem to forget that as well. What's creepy versus not-creepy, or what's polite, what's rude, what's whatever is up for debate because different people have different standards. Especially over time and space. Especially over time and space at four in the fucking morning after you've had a couple of drinks.

Yet, I doubt anyone will notice or care about that. I doubt anyone will notice or care at all in a few more days. But as for me, I couldn't help noticing that despite all the drama, all the flame wars and trolls and angry radicals there still yet lives the smallest echo of reality, speaking in the voice of Jiminy Cricket to say...

Chill the fuck out!


And don't be a dick.


Cheers

9 footnotes:

Mell said...

This is amazing.
I love it.
Xx liefs

Zek J Evets said...

Mell,

Thanks =)

I just finished the first round of edits. My posts always need touch-ups.

serpentus said...

The zekester's droppin' good shit lately.

The way people express sexual interest in other people and what the sexual norms are are mostly determined by the culture. For instance, I've heard (but don't quote me yet) that in Sicily, men will pinch a woman's butt if they think she's attractive, and it is actually considered a compliment and is NOT considered creepy. Catcalling in Argentina happens all the time. Latin culture has more of an open, laid-back approach, whereas just shaking a woman's hand in Saudi Arabia can get you jail time and even the death penalty.

Zek J Evets said...

Serpentus,

Thanks =)

And yet, no matter the culture men still find ways to penalize the sexuality of many women. And women still find ways to penalize the sexuality of many men. Cultural norms are more shallow than most people think.

serpentus said...

"And yet, no matter the culture men still find ways to penalize the sexuality of many women. And women still find ways to penalize the sexuality of many men. Cultural norms are more shallow than most people think."

I'll refer you to this:
http://serpentus.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/two-sets-of-rules/

Zek J Evets said...

Serpentus,

Referencing your own blog post is -- besides being in bad taste and a lazy argument -- not really going to address my specific comments. Unless you could have foreseen this specific conversation?

serpentus said...

"Referencing your own blog post is -- besides being in bad taste and a lazy argument -- not really going to address my specific comments."

My taste buds are fine. It wasn't my post; it was a guest post. ;/ Shit. I still can't do that cool smiley face thing.

I really don't want to copy and paste the post here since it's so big, so I'll compress it as best as I can. However, I highly recommend you at least read over it.

Anyway, to address your points (no matter how pointy they are), both men and women face double standards. A famous Dutch football player who played on the national team in '76 once said: "For every disadvantage, there is an advantage." For every double standard women face, there's some kind of double standard men face on the other end.

Here's one double standard that works for women: they get the benefit of the doubt--always.

I read a while ago about a guy who was at a club. He apparently had an angry ex-gf, and she lied to the bouncer that he had put something in her drink which then caused the guy to get kicked out of the club. It was policy that an accusation is enough. The guy's friend who was still inside tried to get back at her (which was wrong; two wrongs don't make a right) and told the bouncer that she had put something in his drink. The result? She just gets a warning.

Or take the "Twilight Moms" phenomena where 30, 40, and 50-something-old women can fawn over high schooler Edward Cullen and wolfboy. Now, if a group of 30, 40, and 50-something-year-old men were to organize a group celebrating how sexy the high school girl Kirsten Stewart is, you bet your ass they'd be labeled sex offenders and perverts.

The thinking goes like this: "Hey, they're women. It's not like they're actually going to kidnap a teen boy to their basement."

People assume the best of women and the worst of men.

Let's play a game: A list of words follow, and your goal is to have a clear picture of the object in your head as you go down. Got it? Good.

Banana

Gangbanger

Coffee

House

Murderer

Spoon

Car

Staples

Robber

Book

Thief

We're done playing the game. Now, whenever you came across a criminal and pictured it in your head, was it a man? (Gasp!) Always?

Men are the default gender when it comes to criminal activities.

Turn on the evening news, and listen to a story about a "mysterious person" mass murdering a family in the middle of the night. I guarantee you almost all people watching it will immediately assume it was some sort of tall, dark, shady-looking man that did it.

For women that complain that they're called sluts and whores while men who sleep around don't face the same social stigma, I'd like to point out some double standards that actually work against men.

Just look at people like O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson. Even though they were intially found not guilty, the social stigma still lingered, and people today crack jokes about those men.

If a man is arrested for use of marijuana, then it's on his record and can totally mess up his life. If a woman has the social stigma of being labeled a slut or whore, then she can move to another part of town, or to another city, or engage in online dating (which favors women.) For a man, however, the arrest will follow him for the rest of his life. Employers can do background checks, so finding a job will be difficult for the man. Furthermore, lack of money can erode at a man's confidence which further erodes his confidence with women.

Whew, man that was long. Zek, I should be getting paid for writing stuff like this. I get that chics go through shit, but dudes also go through shit, and in this country, we only seem to talk about issues that concern women (for the most part).

Zek J Evets said...

Serpentus,

Guest-post, your post, I'm still not very keen on people linking to their arguments on personal blogs. Unless this were more like a forum (such as at Abagond's) in which case it would make more sense. Just a personal thing. But thanks for summarizing it =)

For every double standard women face, there's some kind of double standard men face on the other end.

I'm not sure how playing in the Oppression Olympics will solve either problem. Noticing male issues, but then getting upset because female issues receive more attention seems like jealousy. Instead, why not do something about it? Why not advocate, or protest, or write about them without resorting to blaming entire genders, and stick to the specific individuals doing said Bad Things? Just a thought. But I digress, that double-standards exist is not the point, because two wrongs do not make a right, nor does suffering somewhere else negate suffering here & now, as I said earlier. That men benefit from double-standards which women don't doesn't negate other male issues, such as violence, prison rape, etc. And this applies vice versa. That male victims of rape are given less serious consideration and help in our society should in no way be used to attack or demonize activism against rape that happens to women. Not only does that not address the actual problem, but subjects any attempt to do so as a controversy for engaging in that kind of slander.

People assume the best of women and the worst of men.

These are blanket statements which do not hold up from the evidence you provided. Anecdotal examples do not prove that all people assume the worst of men in general, and the best of women in general, especially since that's not true! It depends on the situation. People ALWAYS assume the worst of ugly women, but never so for ugly men. People ALWAYS assume that a woman who's aggressive is a ball-breaker, but not when a man does it. And vice versa too -- people always assume that women are good with children, but not so for men! Yet these kind of Oppression Olympics to see who has it worse is fucking lame and pointless. Who cares who has it worse, the problem is that shit's fucked up! Do you understand yet?

Zek J Evets said...

If a man is arrested for use of marijuana, then it's on his record and can totally mess up his life. If a woman has the social stigma of being labeled a slut or whore, then she can move to another part of town, or to another city, or engage in online dating (which favors women.) For a man, however, the arrest will follow him for the rest of his life. Employers can do background checks, so finding a job will be difficult for the man. Furthermore, lack of money can erode at a man's confidence which further erodes his confidence with women.

You need to use an equivalent example. Which in this case would be what would happen if a WOMAN were arrested for marijuana useage. Being called a slut and whore are not the same as being arrested for drugs. But trust me, if a woman was arrested for drug useage (as does happen) then it would follow her on her record for the rest of her life as well, subject to all the problems you listed in your example.

I think the main issue Serpentus is that you see these kinds of things as a zero-sum game, that when one side wins the other loses, or that when one side is on top the other is on the bottom. Because women are getting ahead in some ways, that must be the cause of men getting the shaft in others. Frankly that ain't always, or even often, the case.

Whew, man that was long. Zek, I should be getting paid for writing stuff like this. I get that chics go through shit, but dudes also go through shit, and in this country, we only seem to talk about issues that concern women (for the most part).

I do agree -- not that you should be getting paid, haha -- that we don't seem to have much of a national dialogue for Shit That Men Go Thru, while there's infinite places for women to vent their problems, I am not gonna blame women for that because frankly men should've been doing that for themselves from the start! And that's what I do in my life, right now. I support, advocate for, make, and otherwise deal with spaces for Men's Issues -- and all without the need to denigrating spaces that deal with Women's Issues.

This seems to be the fundamental difference in our approach.