First things first: Why the bloody hell does it have to be [insert random incident here] gate all the time? Watergate made sense, after all it was called the Watergate Hotel. But do we really need to make a meme out of this? If these topics are as serious as everyone claims they are, why make a meme out of them? Isn't a meme more of a mocking fun thing? Thought so! So since we named the incident Elevatorgate, does it really make sense to be all serious about it? Not a chance!
So, what actually happened here? What is Elevatorgate? I will try to sum up my view of things, which of course is only the view of an observing outsider, so I am probably not at all accurate. Bite me!
Elevatorgate started, when RKWatson aka Skepchick committed the horrible atrocity of making an unscripted (*gasp*) 8 minute and 3 second video in which she rambled about moving houses, a trip to California, speaking at several meetings, visiting the Mythbusters' set, getting raptured, travelling to Dublin for an atheist conference, visiting the Science Gallery, meeting AronRa and DPRjones, talking on a panel during that conference in which she discussed feminist issues within the skeptic community and a whooping 1 minute and 20 seconds about the guy in the elevator.
So what did she say about the guy in the elevator? In case you were too lazy to click the link and watch the full video, here is a transcript:
"You were all fantastic. I loved talking to you guys. All of you except for the one man who didn't really grasp, I think, what I was saying on the panel, because at the bar later that night, actually at 4 in the morning, we were at the hotel bar... 4am I said, "You know, I've had enough guys, I'm exhausted. Going to bed." 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?" Just a word to the wise here: Guys, don't do that! You know, 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 I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4am, in a hotel elevator with you, just you. And I... don't invite me back to your hotel room right after I finished talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner."So what do I think about that statement? Fair enough. This was not a long and detailed analysation of what happened to her or what the man's intentions were, it was merely an unscripted spontaneous statement recalling and wording exactly how she felt at the time. She was creeped out, she thought the guy probably wanted sex (which is likely but not proven) and it remained in her memory enough to mention the incident and how she felt in an unscripted rambly video. Do I think she overreacted? Perhaps a bit, because none of us, including her, knew his intentions. Perhaps he genuinely wanted to chat, who knows. Perhaps he did want sex and was hoping she would return interest. Again, we don't know.
So did the guy do anything wrong? I wouldn't call it wrong as such, just incredibly clumsy, perhaps a bit idiotic. He approached someone who had just finished speaking about being sexualized with the words "Don't take this the wrong way, but...". This sentence pretty much guarantees that someone WILL take something the wrong way. It implies that he already KNOWS what the following statement could be mistaken as, and even if he doesn't intend for it to come across as such, which is why he started out the way he did, he knows she will think about this as well. And that alone will be a fairly good indicator, if you are genuinely just interested in chatting and a cup of coffee, that a different approach may be in order. So what do I think of the elevator guy? He is a poor, unfortunate clumsy putz that probably had no bad intentions at all.
Being the geek I am and having worked with people in IT, who are mostly male and mostly clumsy putzes, here are MY few words to the wise. Tips how he COULD have approached Rebecca with a more satisfactory result for both parties: He could have asked her while still at the bar, with others around, or, if too scared to approach her in front of people, he could have asked her to have breakfast in the hotel bar the next day, instead of coffee in his room.
So why did this blow up into "Elevatorgate"?
The radical feminist mob that makes up a huge chunk of Rebecca's audience decided to label the poor clumsy fool a potential rapist. Heaven help us, there is a man who might think a woman is sexy and he takes a chance, albeit a very clumsy one, and approaches her! Ladies, get a fucking grip on reality! Not every man who shows interest in you is a potential rapist. Some, I dare say the majority, are actually quite nice and just genuinely want to share a good time with you, possibly even fall in love, without immediately expecting you to get in the kitchen and remain barefoot and pregnant! While the concept of dating someone of the opposite gender may seem strange to some of you, it can be quite pleasurable, and it usually takes one of the two (or more) involved parties to make an initial approach to indicate interest. They may not always be approaches that you appreciate, they may occasionally be clumsy, but they are not the end of the world, nor are they the opening scene to you being horribly violated. It is thanks to you, this particular type of fanbase, that Rebecca is now receiving more crap than needed, because YOUR statements are falsely attributed to her. And she is fool enough to thank you for it.
But this was not the end of it, of course. Spurred on by complaints from an audience opposing the statements that were now attributed to Rebecca, Richard Dawkins now decided to chime in. And he did so in a way that can only be described as even more clumsy than the best elevator guy himself could have possibly produced. He decided to comment on PZ Myer's blog Pharyngula:
Well done, Richard. You practically tell someone "cope with what makes you uncomfortable, others have it worse", which reminds me of my grandmother, when she kept telling me to cope with wearing the itchy wool sweater she knitted that kept giving me a mild rash, because other children had no clothes at all. Are you saying in order to be able to properly help other children get clothes I have to wear a sweater that gives me a rash? I felt uncomfortable wearing it, and I had every right to complain, even if other children don't have clothes. I also have the right to complain about bad tasting food in a restaurant, despite all the starving children in the world. Apparently however you don't seem to think so. So the next time something makes you feel uncomfortable, whether it is your steak not being cooked to your liking or being bought some clothes you can't stand to wear: Stop your bitching, because there are children in Africa that have no food or clothes at all! While I do understand your grievance with the FANBASE of Rebecca, I can not understand your beef with Rebecca herself at all. So yes, you are an even more clumsy putz than elevator guy himself, although I will still refuse to call you a misogynist prick like so many of Rebecca's fans now seem to do.
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and . . . yawn . . . don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.
Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so . . .
And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
Did it end here though? No way! Nuh uh! We have drama! Let's feed it!
So some people who attributed Rebecca's fanbase's statements to Rebecca chimed in and backed up Richard Dawkins' ridiculous statement, cheering, cajoling, running to Rebecca's video and leaving a tirade of comments that remind me of the scribbling on highschool bathroom stall doors. Pretty much any misogynist insult in the book can be found on there by now, and these are in return falsely attributed to Dawkins by Rebecca's fanbase.
This entire clusterfuck has absolutely nothing to do anymore with the original statements made. It has turned into fanbase vs. fanbase and lost all aspects of reasonable discussion between two intellectuals.
And that is the real shame about Elevatorgate.