In Support of Rebecca Watson
That’s right, I’m going there too.
I told myself (and a few others) that I wouldn’t get involved in this kerfuffle again. My friends and I have already hashed and rehashed it a few times. Bucketfuls of ink have spilled, countless megabytes have flowed, endless arguments have spiraled downwards. Nonetheless, in the spirit of Leeroy Jenkins, once again, heedlessly into the breach. Just to be different, perhaps even a bit contrary, I’m going to say only the supportive things that come to mind about Rebecca. I’ve criticized her enough elsewhere.
1) She was right to be annoyed with that guy in the lift. He asked her back to his room for
coffee sex without so much as establishing any rapport. That’s a dick move, anyway you cut it. Cold propositions are inevitably objectifying, because they assume that the person being propositioned should be treated first and foremost as sexual object. Moreover, she had been talking about how she is tired of being propositioned by horny fans earlier on at the very same conference.We have to assume that Elevator Guy either skipped that panel or else he considers himself above and beyond ordinary fanboys. I’m going with the latter, because that’s just the sort of blinkered arrogance I’d expect from someone who drops cold booty calls on total strangers.
2) She was right to publish her annoyance to YouTube. Before this was about what happened to Stef (with an ‘f’) or about a deluge of third-party snark and threats, it was merely Rebecca telling her own fans what not to do when they meet her at conferences. There is nothing remotely wrong with this. Everyone gets to set their own personal boundaries.
3) She was right to complain about the torrents of abuse that followed. Check out her Page O’ Hate. Some of it is just obvious trolling, but much of it is profoundly and obsessively hateful. While I do not share her view that these comments flowed overwhelmingly from the atheist and skeptic community (as opposed to the Men’s Rights Movement, the teenage nihilist community on YouTube, or the dreaded Brotherhood of Scary Hair and Homemade Religion) I’ve no doubt that much of it did. There is nothing about liberating oneself from the gods that automatically makes you a good person, after all. Regardless of the source, though, the volume and intensity of the hatred directed at Rebecca (among others) is completely baffling to me.
I know a lot of my readers are going to disagree with me (and each other) on this mysteriously heated issue, so I’m just going to casually mention that this isn’t ‘Nam, and not unlike bowling, there are rules.