Friday, 12 August 2011

Atheists, elevators and watermelons...


So Rebecca "Elevatorgate" Watson has finally come out of hiding to post a video response to the criticisms she's received over the shitstorm instigated by her, "Word to the wise....guys? Don't do that," advice.

I am...well, I'm hardly shocked. 

There was a crap-ton (1.016 crap-tonnes, for us Canucks) of commentary and debate on her initial video, with many thoughtful and eloquent opinions on both sides. Granted, there was plenty of "shut up u dum cunt u just hate men ur stupid and ulgy bitch" going on (this is Youtube, after all...the gathering place of pretty much every human being alive who has not learned to spell, punctuate or express complex thought), but her treatment of the criticism she received...

I can only say to Rebecca Watson, "Atheism: Ur doin it rong."

Atheism rests on a few tenets. One is that faith and moral absolutism are essentially harmful to society. There's plenty of evidence to back this up. Argue religion with anyone who is devoutly religious, and you'll come up against a wall, again and again, an intellectual dead end that usually goes something like this:

"I'm a [Christian, Muslim, Hindu, whatever] because I know my religion is right. All the evidence I need is my faith. And if you don't believe the way I do, you are [heathen, infidel, amoral, wrong, ignorant, about to die, going to hell]."

I was poking around some atheist videos while on Youtube, and came across an assertion by a Muslim, in an interview with Richard Dawkins. The Muslim indicated that because Dawkins was non-religious, he by definition must have no moral code--that atheists, in not having an external and absolute set of ethical rules to live by, "would not care" if, say, people were copulating in the street. That if morality is flexible, then it is worthless.

Dawkins responded by saying morality itself should not be immune to examination and criticism. At one time, we believed slavery to be, if not morally good, at least morally neutral. We as a society think differently now. If our morality was absolute, there would be no room for equality or humanity, no room to improve society. I would further argue that if you're only being "good" because you've been told to, and the penalty for not being "good" is an eternity in hell, you are no different than a homicidal sociopath who knows to behave himself when there are cops around.

So now let's examine Rebecca Watson's assessment of the shitstorm that ensued after her initial video and how this meshes with her atheism.

Her description of her critics is confined to "a large audience of idiots." In other words, "I'm right. All I need to know I'm right is my feelings. And anyone who disagrees with me is an idiot."

She then reduces that field of "idiots" even further, down to: 

"I just wanted to address some of the questions you've all had....'I'm a man, and I don't see the problem in cornering a woman in an elevator and inviting her back to my room...uh, despite the fact that she said she's tired and going to bed, and despite the fact that she said she didn't want to be hit on, and despite the fact that I've never talked to her before. I don't see a problem with this situation. So if you say I can't do that, then how can I possibly get laid?'"

Yes. Because this is the only problem anyone had with her complaint and the ensuing debacle. The whole, "How are we supposed to we get laid if we can't 'corner' women in elevators?" thing. That was men's only concern.

There was absolutely no concern expressed by anyone regarding how male sexuality has been so effectively demonized that even a polite pass (maybe...heck, maybe it was just coffee) in an enclosed space could kick off a chain reaction of rhetoric that descended into passionate feminist testimonials outlining how all women walk around in fear of rape, comparing men to dogs that just might be rabid so RUN!!, that being in an enclosed space with a strange man is scary enough even when he doesn't open his mouth, and that "because you're men, you just don't understand women's understandable terror of sexual assault, and how we have to assume every man could be a rapist because maybe he is!" 

Nope. No concerns about that at all.

The equivalent would be if that Muslim had accused Richard Dawkins of wanting to do away with religion so he'd have carte blanche to fuck people in the street. Because hey, there's no other possible reason an Atheist might have a bone to pick with religion. Nope. 

But then. Oh then...

Then Rebecca Watson goes on to categorize those who agree with her as "normal". Normal this and normal that, and other subsets of normal people who were blind before but saw the light of her wisdom and are thankful for it. 

And those who disagreed? Creeps who can't get laid. We know they can't get laid, because she goes to great lengths to helpfully suggest alternatives to the flesh and blood women these guys won't be fucking--sex dolls, fleshlights, and watermelons with holes cut in them. 

The misandric inanity, it hurts. It hurts SO BAD. 

I almost don't know what to say. I really don't. Other than that Rebecca Watson is clearly a religious nut. Her religion is not Atheism, it's feminism. 

Feminism has all the answers, you see. Feminism dictates what is "appropriate" and what is not, what will "get guys laid" and what will not, what is "normal" and what is not, who are idiots and who are not, what should be allowed and what should not, how people--especially men--should behave and how they should not. Feminism is her absolute morality. Change "normal" to "saved", and change "creeps" and "idiots" to "sinners" and you've got yourself a bona fide cult. Convert, heathen, or be doomed to a life of loneliness, porn and masturbation (hell on earth, for sure). 

Which tells me that in addition to being a sexist bigot who, when she has nothing relevant to say descends into pettiness and insults, Rebecca Watson kind of sucks at being an atheist.




15 comments:

  1. Great post. I've never heard of this Watson lady, but after watching that video, I have to agree with you.
    I'm also an atheist, and find her ideas to be laden with dogma such as you described.

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  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bc7uRF_JZI

    I just thought this bore posting. For a woman who is tired of being sexualized in the atheist community.... yeah.

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  3. We are a couple and both really enjoy your blog. Your views parallel many of our own. I think you may find our blogs of interest, more so his than mine.

    http://brutalantipathy.blogspot.com/ that is his, my link is in his link section.

    Please keep blogging. Your words are sarcastically refreshing.

    -Lara

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  4. Rebecca Watson has made a career out of being a pin up for nerds. She guests on the SGU podcast and contributes little but acid sarcasm. Nevertheless she has gained a following from lonely scientists who probably dream of a geek romance from a woman who can truely understand them. This is a common dream of very bright men. Rebecca has had an asteroid named after her and gets much attention very easely. Now she has had to meet a nerd for real! In an elivator!! What a shocking surprise!!!

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  5. This is the finest assessment of the whole Elevatorgate saga I have ever read. If only I could have read your blog 8 years ago when I was doing my English Major at the University of Melbourne. (rad fem central) But it's never too late for the truth :)

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  7. The Rebecca Watson thing is what really forced me to take a side on the feminism issue(It WAS good for something in the end!). As much as I tried, I couldn't get rid of the cognitive dissonance that I felt when I balanced Watson's feelings with Elevator Guy's(I could never understand why it would be acceptable for a woman to slap a man for expressing sexual interest in the first five minutes). Plus the ubiquitous "Men are pigs"-message was never contradicted by a corresponding "Women are sexually handicapped"-message(if you look at it a certain way, both say the same thing : that the sexual drive is on a different level).
    Anyway, I read through dozens of posts and feminist blogs, but it didn't help. It felt like drinking gallons of plaster-colored laxative. Then i read about PUAs(I pictured them as a bunch of nerds doing equations and graphs on a science project to take the cheerleaders away from the jocks. Pretty cool.) and this guy named Hugo who wanted to reach out to feminists so that they could infer something, maybe, from PUAs, but they would have none of it(There's a surprise !).
    From there, i went to MRA sites and thanks to this, to the rantings of a fat guy and this blog, i finally got a whole new look at the picture.
    The dissonance is gone, the world makes more sense and my bowels are fine.
    I wonder why I didn't catch on earlier though. The visibility of the MRA is horrible. I didn't know there was another way of looking at gender issues.
    It's unnecessary to be screwed over by a woman to see the valid points the MRA makes, but it sure takes time...Now I'll spread the word.
    Thanks a lot, your posts and vids are laid-back, clean and well-thought.

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    1. Heh. That description of the PUA community is the most accurate I have ever seen. Revenge of the Nerds ftw! Hehehe.

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  8. I recently discovered your YouTube videos and have been working backwards through your blog.

    I do want to make two related comments on your assertions about religion and the religious. I may possibly be reading them too broadly but given they are not uncommon I don't think a polite response is out of order:

    Argue religion with anyone who is devoutly religious, and you'll come up against a wall, again and again, an intellectual dead end that usually goes something like this:

    "I'm a [Christian, Muslim, Hindu, whatever] because I know my religion is right. All the evidence I need is my faith. And if you don't believe the way I do, you are [heathen, infidel, amoral, wrong, ignorant, about to die, going to hell]."


    I will not say you'll never hear this but you will also hear:

    "I'm a [Christian, Muslim, Hindu, whatever] because I believe my religion is right. All the evidence I need is my faith."

    The ratio of the first to second statement will depend on a ton of variables including faith, sect within said faith, educational level of the person, location of the person (both current and early in life), and so on.

    However the second statements leads directly to my second comment:

    Dawkins responded by saying morality itself should not be immune to examination and criticism. At one time, we believed slavery to be, if not morally good, at least morally neutral. We as a society think differently now. If our morality was absolute, there would be no room for equality or humanity, no room to improve society. I would further argue that if you're only being "good" because you've been told to, and the penalty for not being "good" is an eternity in hell, you are no different than a homicidal sociopath who knows to behave himself when there are cops around.

    There is a lot to unpack here. First, religious faith and the willingness to question morality are not mutually exclusive nor is the idea that there is an absolute morality an impediment to such questions. There is a strong difference between asserting the existence of a platonic ideal and asserting personal knowledge of that ideal.

    The different is exactly the one between the religious response you propose and the one I propose. (cont)

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    1. Ironically, the case chosen by Dawkins is one of the best examples. Slavery, at least in the Anglo-Saxon world, was most recently opposed (it had existed in the pre-Normal England but died out then reappeared during the Age of Reason) in large part by religious people who found it immoral, specifically Christians. Abolition in the UK and the US was strongly religious.

      But wait, Christians had owned slaves for most of their faith's history. Doesn't their commitment to their absolute morality prevent the change? What changed was their understanding of that morality. The arguments the religious used against slavery were religious and implicated their opponents' alignment with God's will to convince them slavery was wrong.

      The underlying idea also speaks to your comment religious people only being moral out of a fear of hell. While coming from a Christian viewpoint I prefer to address this with a Hindu concept (although more universally Indian than just Hindu): dharma. While dharma refers to universal law it also "designates those behaviours considered necessary for the maintenance of the natural order of things." A more Western way of expressing it is virtuous living.

      Living religious traditions (as opposed to empty forms) concentrate not on right behavior to avoid punishment but because virtuous living is those behaviours considered necessary for the maintenance of the natural order of things. I know from your discussions of patriarchy that you are not unfamiliar or even hostile to the idea that certain forms work and certain don't (and the third possibility of some being neutral, a concept Judaism has retained much better than Christianity).

      However, as we aren't God and thus not privy to exact knowledge of dharma in its whole life is an effort to not only live virtuously but learning how to live virtuously. It is no coincidence that one of the most cited tools in English for choosing between alternative theories, Occam's Razor, is named after and was formulated by a Franciscan friar named William of Occam. William of Occam was not the first to state it and not even the first churchman. Thomas Aquinas wrote "If a thing can be done adequately by means of one, it is superfluous to do it by means of several; for we observe that nature does not employ two instruments where one suffices."

      So, yes, the statement you attribute to deeply religious people does occur, but as a religious person myself I would use your own phrasing "Religion: Ur doin it rong." I would also say in using that view to decide the religious, having come to a point of faith, can never apply reason to that point of faith or, based on the reason, change their understanding of their faith. At 45 my faith is much changed at all but the most basic level (essentially the Nicene Creed) as my understanding of the nature and implications of those fundamental believes has deepened.

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  9. You're 100% correct about feminism being a religion. I'm someone that would call themselves a "member" of the atheist community, and it really pisses me off when I see that feminists have attached themselves to atheism, like a disgusting parasite.

    The thing is that feminism isn't based on evidence, reason, or skepticism, things that a large majority of atheists hold as valuable. Feminism's rejection of god is simply based on ideology. They reject god because they see god as the biggest patriarch of them all!

    I have some hope though, because I'm beginning to see that many atheists aren't taking it laying down anymore. I remember watching this panel on youtube, where several well known atheists were doing Q&A, and for some reason they included some feminist on the panel. I found comfort in seeing how many of the commenters were pointing out that the feminist sounded like a retard next to everyone else, and wasn't even on-topic, only bothering to open her mouth to spout more feminist theory.

    I think the only reason this happened was because there have been some within the atheist community that decry the fact that there aren't many women getting involved. But, you don't need to look very far to see why there are less female atheists. No offence to you, girlwriteswhat, but religion's emotional comfort is a lot more appealing to women...

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  10. Yeah, I'm with Herb. It's not religion you're running into, it's dogmatism. There are religious dogmatists, and the more you look around, the more you find that dogmatism isn't just a feature of religion, it's a feature of political movements and a lot of other things. Feminism is full of a whole lot of dogmatists beliefs.

    Dogma in and of itself isn't bad. It is a fundamental rule that's true whether you like it or not. So, for example, it is dogmatic that if you are going to be a Muslim, you must acknowledge that Muhammed was the final and greatest of God's prophets. If you don't believe that, then you are violating Islamic dogma and aren't a Muslim; even if you try to call yourself one, orthodox Muslims will reject you as a member of the faithful.

    But is that just a feature of religion? Nope. I can think of certain dogmatic principles that are at the core of science. For example:

    If it is not empirically verifiable and independently replicable, then it is not science.

    Dogmatism on the other hand can turn into a twitch in which some people start espousing as unquestioned truth things that are highly questionable. Fundamentalists of many religions are highly dogmatic, given to declaring as indisputable truths all sorts of things. So are members of many religions, philosophical, and political movements. Ayn Rand zealots are often amazingly dogmatic for example. So are many Marxists. (And both Marxism and Rand's Objectivism are atheist philosophies by the way.)

    I think you will find many dogmatists in religion, in political movements, in the "skeptics" movement, and more. It's generally an obnoxious twitch.

    (By the way, I'm religious. I try not to be a dogma, although my faith has certain dogmas and if you ask me what they are I can tell you. But it's not my job to place you over the head with them.)

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  11. As for the case of Rebecca Watson: I watched her video, and the video of another "skepchick" who agreed with her, and I think it was pretty obvious that both of them are lifelong beneficiaries of unconscious, assumed female privilege. Blissfully unaware of this, they think it's OK to describe as "creepy" for some guy to hit on you at a time and place you don't feel like it. Is that misandrist? Well probably, we weren't there but I somehow doubt that guy was anything but another nerd who was summoning up his courage to hit on a girl he was attracted to and was shot down rather cruelly and publicly humiliated. Ah well, no one cares about that right?

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  12. After a woman has just stood up and said "don't hit on me!" and a guy ignores her request and hits on her...I fail to see how being frustrated by this is in the slightest a demonisation of masculinity. If masculinity is ignoring women's requests about their personal space...well god help us all...

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  13. If a polite invitation to coffee is "ignoring women's requests about their personal space," god help us all.

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