Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Richard Dawkins (and the Creepy Elevator Guy) should watch MadTV

I'd somehow missed the whole "Creepy Elevator Guy" story, but my son called yesterday to bring me up to date. For those of you who don't know, women are badly underrepresented in atheist groups, and the few who do attend meetings sometimes get unwanted sexual attention, which occasionally turns into harassment. In this instance, Rebecca Watson got on the elevator headed for her hotel room at 4 AM and was propositioned by one of the male attendees. Hemant Mehta has an excellent summary of the details so I won't repeat it here.

I don't have a lot to add to what's already been said. Blag Hag had a good blog about it. PZ Myers blogged about it and got a rather disturbing letter from Richard Dawkins, and Hemant Mehta wrote a second blog that was very thoughtful (he has links).

A while ago I wrote a blog that's very relevant: Mormons and Animals: Denying our Deepest Instincts. Men can be total jerks and worse. But atheists have a huge advantage over religious people because we can admit that we have base animal behavior. But where religion tells us we're sinful for having these feelings, atheists can face the feelings honestly and try to do better.

So here's my message to Richard Dawkins, in the form of a fantastic old clip from MadTV. Be sure to watch it to the end – it's brilliant. (The video doesn't allow embedding, so when you click the image it will take you to YouTube.)

1 comment:

  1. Dawkins' trivialization of the women's struggles in affluent nations is particularly galling since he has claimed that it was the feminists who taught him the value of "consciousness-raising," a rhetorical tactic he uses in order to champion Universal Darwinism.

    Regardless of whether or not Watson's encounter ought to rate as trivial, there are "poor American sisters" who suffer exploitation by virtue of their gender. Though The God Delusion seems loathe to admit it, slavery is more rampant now than it was during the Atlantic Slave Trade; a significant portion of modern trafficking involves so-called "white slavery," meaning (more often than not) forced prostitution. And those abuses are by no means limited to impoverished nations. Even a person who is not convinced that Watson's encounter merits the attention it has gotten should be able to see how Dawkins' comments could give pause to women who are considering opening up about legitimate encounters. A woman shouldn't have to feel that a stiff upper lip is the only proper response to any abuse or exploitation that stops short of stoning. And while it may not have been his attempt to send that particular message, his words were not especially well calculated to distinguish between shades of gray.

    Call his little satire "consciousness-lowering."


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