Sunday, July 31, 2011

More about elevatorgate

It's amazing how long this is going on and how divisive this episode has been for the sceptic community. The way people have been defending their position and demanding apologies made me re-examine my position think about different elements and what it would have taken for me to change my thoughts on McGraw at least. I've not been a fan of Skepchick nor had I visited the CFI site before this outbreak.

Watson - mean for calling out McGraw the way she did? I don't think so. It was an audience of 100 and to draw people in by showing how you can have an unconscious bias can be very effective. Had she spend a substantial amount of time on it I could see it being a problem. From a position of meh, I stayed at a position of meh. She's right, that's not the way to get more women into the sceptical community.

McGraw - victim? Only of sloppy thinking. I was not impressed with how she cherry picked Watson's story to make Watson look like a killjoy. I was even less impressed with her response to being called out. What could she have done that I would have respected? Instead of brushing aside the details of the encounter with EG in the follow up post, she could have pointed out that this is not sexism as much as a side effect of celebrity that all people encounter and built on that. Or discussed expectations of different styles of feminism. I'm sure there was a lot of traffic to the site with all the blogging that's been going on. Discuss the assumption of bias; show some critical thinking skills.

Dawkins with his muslina comment and follow up. That's simple. Compare Watson's experience in an elevator with a "fan" to his own experience in an elevator with a "fan" - surely he's had one. I wouldn't think it unusual to feel intimidated by a stranger in a small space, but that's a female perspective.

I've also thought about rape and dysfunctional relationships. I remember when, in Canada wording was changed to sexual assault. Thinking was that this downgrade the importance of rape by putting it on a spectrum that includes unwanted touching. Now I'm not so sure. Unlike assault, when there is an accusation of rape the accusation is heavily examined before taking any action against the accused. When people are assaulted physical evidence is enough; there is less assumption that the accuser is lying. I'm also unsure that being assaulted is any less traumatic than being sexually assaulted. In both cases a person's trust and integrity has been violated. Depending on the person's personality and the extent of the assault, she may or may not ever overcome the event.

And dysfunctional (heteronormative) relationships - I always wonder what could have been done differently to avoid the situation. In the case of women why is it the victim who has to move, change names and work so hard to get away while the guy goes on his merry way? In the case of men, how do we encourage men to report female bullies and get relief rather than being though of as unmanly?

So many questions. Still so little experience.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Multi-National Companies - a force for ethics?

This post has been percolating ever since our last round of ethics training started at work.  Our training cycles seems to have accelerated and widened in the past few years. It's gone from an annual lecture to mostly management on not to give/take bribed to biannual training that is attended by everyone. While we still  get told that bribery isn't acceptable there are more subtle examples of things we can't do. Happily training has gotten much better. In the last round we had to watch well produced videos in the style of "the Office". All employees got to see that there alternatives to cringe worthy management style and recourse.

I first realized  the effect of multinationals when we got a share holders vote card in the main about hiring policies. Should hiring be discriminatory, in Ireland, based on religion. Of course not we voted from our secularized home country. We did talk about inflicting our values on a  society bogged down in a religious fight but felt discrimination should not be institutionalized. Bad us, interested enough to vote yet not interested enough to follow up.

This becomes more important now because the loud voices out of the US seems to eschew any type of generosity between out groups. While there's a ton of noise about abortion in the US and not funding it, in Canada abortion is just another medical procedure and cannot be de-funded.  What if a Canadian, with corporate insurance, suffers a miscarriage while on holidays to the US? While the US struggles with sexual equality, Corporate benefits extend to same sex relationships in Canada, after all everyone has the right to get married here. If you move an employee from the US to Canada, what happens to benefits when they move back home. The Multi I work for puts Canada in the US domestic bucket. Does this mean that USians get the same coverage as Canadians? How does this jive with intolerant State law?

Last year I went to HR with a comment about Christmas boxes. Not because I'm against Christmas or gifting children but because enough people had mentioned to me that they felt there were alternative SECULAR organizations that wouldn't proselytize under the cover of being interfaith. I wasn't happy with local management response (that's not religious) so I sent it up the ladder. Shortly after, acceptable charitable organizations were clarified again to be mostly donation matching to the Red Cross.

Change.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Elevatorgate - why companies have training on harassment.

Elevatorgate has been sweeping the skeptisphere, it seems like forever. It started with a Rebecca Watson video complete with tip that an unknown guy asking a woman to their room for coffee at 4:30 is creepy.

Then the internet thing takes over...A response from a college student McGraw that Watson is just wrong to deny men and woman have sexual feelings. Then Watson uses the response to illustrate the faces of sexism as a prelude to a talk about the Republican war on women. Then McGraw and her supporters complain that Watson was harassing her by naming her because McGraw couldn't respond right away. People started conflating a brief encounter in an elevator that Watson used to illustrate how not to meet women with attempted rape. Men start protesting they can *NEVER* approach any women if they have to consider context. Richard Dawkins chimes just to be a douche. Ongoing posts from Watson sticks to the topic of feminism in the sceptic community.  Follow up post from McGraw sticks to talking about how unfair it was to use her as an example of sexism.

Frankly I'm not seeing her point. I went to see if McGraw would actually come up with an reason why she should not be considered to be sexist based on her comment. There was a lame, "transcribing is hard and I didn't think it was important" excuse. Religious people don't think they're cherry picking the bible either. Yes, especially if it takes away from your point that Watson is frigid and ruining it for the girls that go to conferences to get laid. Regardless of what McGraw thinks about a power iniquity, this episode sent many people to *her* website to see *her* response. This was her opportunity to present a good argument about why her comment was not sexist/anti woman and she didn't have one.

I've been slowly transitioning my sceptic/atheist sites from male voices to female voices. I tried Skepchick several years ago and found it too...lite. I'll try it again. I can't give up Pharyngula because PZ is such a good writer-whether you agree with him or not, he has actual points to think about and backs them up (sometimes unsuccessfully). BlagHag for sure. McGraw for sure not.