I’ve tried really hard to stay out of the whole “Elevatorgate” issue. The rhetoric coming from both sides has far exceeded what is either rational or relevant. But after reading a few of the new posts from the weekend, I just can’t keep my mouth shut anymore.
You were all fantastic and I loved talking to all of you guys. All of you except for the one man who didn’t really grasp, I think, what I was saying on that panel because, um, at the bar, later that night – actually at 4 in the morning – we were at the hotel bar, 4 am, I said you know, I’ve had enough guys, I’m exhausted – going to bed. Uh, so I walked to the elevator and a man got on the elevator with me and said, “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?”
Um, just a word to the wise here guys, uh, don’t do that. Um, you know, uh I don’t really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that as a single woman you know… in a foreign country… at 4am…in a hotel…elevator…with you. Just you. And… don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I’ve finished talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.
That’s the entirety of the comment that started this entire maelstrom of craziness that has infected the interwebs for the past week.
Not long after that, Stef McGraw criticized Rebecca for overreacting:
It’s possible the man actually just wanted to talk and do nothing more, but I’ll even give that point to her; I obviously wasn’t there, and don’t know what sort of vibes he was giving off. Fair enough. My concern is that she takes issue with a man showing interest in her. What’s wrong with that? How on earth does that justify him as creepy? Are we not sexual beings? Let’s review, it’s not as if he touched her or made an unsolicited sexual comment; he merely asked if she’d like to come back to his room. She easily could have said (and I’m assuming did say), “No thanks, I’m tired and would like to go to my room to sleep.”
Watson is upset that this man is sexualizing her just after she gave a talk relating to feminism, but my question is this: Since when are respecting women as equals and showing sexual interest mutually exclusive? Is it not possible to view to take interest in a woman AND see her as an intelligent person?
A response I find to be perfectly reasonable and rational. But somehow, this is where the shit hits the fan. Rebecca takes offense to this criticism and, in her keynote address at the CFI Student Leadership Conference, makes an example of Stef and quotes her by name in a slide of her presentation in an effort to “call out the anti-woman rhetoric my audience was engaging in.” All of a sudden the word misogyny is being thrown around and rape and sexual assault are now being discussed.
Wait a minute… what?
Where did rape, sexual assault, and misogyny come from?
Let’s look at the original incident one more time.
I walked to the elevator and a man got on the elevator with me and said, “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?”
Oh I see… rape, sexual assault, and misogyny.
No. No, I don’t see it. At all.
Clearly, Dawkins has never experienced what it’s like to carry around the fear of sexual assault, as most women do on some level.
I’m sorry, what?
Am I to read this as saying that as a woman, I should carry the fear of sexual assault?
That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life.
Not to mention one of the most sexist statements I’ve seen.
I wholeheartedly believe that woman and men are equals and should be treated as such. Women are strong and independent and fully capable of making their own decisions, despite the fairly patriarchal society we live in. Some would say that this makes me a feminist.
But in reading all of the responses that have turned a simple flirtation into a thwarted rape attempt, I have learned that feminism is about overcoming female oppression in such a manner that all men are subsequently demonized.
I want no part of this.
Rebecca had every right to feel creeped out by a stranger asking her to his hotel room at 4am, but that is where this should have stopped. There was nothing misogynistic about the incident. There was no threat of sexual assault. And by turning this into a discourse about those things, we have done both men and women a real disservice.
This world may have creepy criminals in it. But not every man who speaks to a woman is hoping to commit a crime.
And women, you should be smart enough to know that.