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.