Friday, July 8, 2011

Elevatorgate - A Short But Rational Rant

This is for all those out there who have been following Elevatorgate

I have no reason to suspect Rebecca Watson would fabricate a story just to make a point about men being inconsiderate towards women. Therefore we'll take her account of what happened prior to and during the elevator journey as fact. If you wish to read about the events then feel free to visit skepchick and read Rebecca's blog posts.

How Rebecca felt about the proposition is subjective, by definition. Based on the facts I believe I'd feel the same way and I agree with her that the proposition was inappropriate. I also believe that she is entitled to voice her dislike of such behaviour and if the community seriously wishes to address the gender imbalances that exist then her feelings, and those of many other women, need to be acknowledged and behaviour and attitudes changed. The fact that there is a subjective or preferential component to how people feel or how they make value judgements does not mean that they are worthless.

Some people have expressed opposing opinions on the inappropriateness of the proposition. Again, these are subjective and are based on feelings and preferences.

There has been no evidence presented to show that the elevator guy was sexist or misogynist. Inappropriate behaviour is common in those who are socially inept or ignorant and not confined to the realms of sexism or misogyny. To lump them in together is illogical. To label poor reasoning and social skills as sexual assault is asinine. People who highlight this lack of evidence are not rape-enablers or apologists for hate against women. Just because somebody is not a woman or has not had the same experience it does not disqualify them from rational argument.

Highlighting other women who are in situations of extreme mental and physical suffering doesn't invalidate and shouldn't be used to dismiss the complaints; although it does identify a potential candidate for demarcation: subjective discomfort due to certain speech and behaviour versus infringement of the person and pain.

Just because someone has a different opinion to you, it doesn't mean that their other opinions or works are worthless or incorrect and to steer people away from good sources of knowledge and illumination is reprehensible.

Although value judgements are subjective, the outcome from behavioural modification from them can be empirically measured. If men are more considerate and don't act like dicks then women will feel more welcome, there will be an increase in female participation and the gender imbalance will ease. If there is no behavioural modification then the status quo will remain.

I'm very disappointed that a community that has worked so hard to cultivate a reputation for reason and rational debate had descended in to such irrational arguments at all levels; from public figures to Internet commentators.

Now, will everybody please chill the fuck out and enjoy TAM. Send me some pictures because I can't go :(

1 comment:

  1. I thought Rebecca's comments were thoughtful and restrained. It seems to me she was actually trying to help guys like this be less creepy to any woman. I support her and get the sense that Dawkins likely responded to the blow-up rather that to the original posting by Ms. Watson.