Elevatorgate

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Elevatorgate is a term commonly used to describe a scandal involving Richard Dawkins' inappropriate comments made to fellow atheist Rebecca Watson. In 2011, Richard Dawkins was widely criticized within the atheist community and in various press outlets for his insensitive comments made to atheist Rebecca Watson about an incident which occurred in an elevator.[1] Specifically, Watson was propositioned after an atheist event in an elevator by a man who apparently was a fellow atheist during the early hours of the morning and she was upset about the incident. Watson has written about widespread misogny within the atheist community and she has received threats of rape.[2] Prior to the Elevatorgate incident, Wired magazine made the observation that atheists tend to be quarrelsome, socially challenged men.[3]

The New Statesman reporter and fellow skeptic David Allen Green said he believed Dawkins was a sexist.[4] In addition, Green wrote: "Can Richard Dawkins still credibly pose as a champion of rational thinking and an evidence-based approach? In my opinion, he certainly cannot, at least not in the way he did before."[5]

Rebecca Watson and Elevatorgate

Atheist Rebecca Watson

(photo obtained from Wikimedia commons, see: license agreement)

As a result of Elevatorgate, atheist Rebecca Watson wrote concerning Richard Dawkins:

This person who I always admired for his intelligence and compassion does not care about my experience as an atheist woman and therefore will no longer be rewarded with my money, my praise, or my attention. I will no longer recommend his books to others, buy them as presents, or buy them for my own library. I will not attend his lectures or recommend that others do the same. There are so many great scientists and thinkers out there that I don't think my reading list will suffer."[6]

Allegation that Rebecca Watson was behaving hypocritically

Amanda Read wrote in the Washington Times that she believed Watson was behaving hypocritically and declared:

The point is that because the issue is sexism in the atheist movement, perceptions of sexism are not based on absolute principle, but on relative emotion.

Watson speaks out against the sexual objectification of women, but she apparently sees nothing wrong with the pinup calendars that she and her female atheist friends publish. Myers defended her views on his blog, but only last year he linked to an interesting interview with Nina Hartley, a feminist atheist who sees nothing wrong with women performing as sex workers.

You see, sexism and the exploitation of women are not immoral to godless women as long as such things are on their terms.[7]

Previous incident of Richard Dawkins being unkind to a woman

In September of 2010, Richard Dawkins became nasty towards a woman in an audience he spoke before.[8]


For more information please see: Women's views of Richard Dawkins

Uphill battle of Rebecca Watkins and female atheists combatting atheist misogny

Although major press outlets have covered Elevatorgate[9], most of the commentary surrounding the events of Elevatorgate has been in the atheist blogosphere.

Concerning post Elevatorgate activities of Rebecca Watson, one atheist blogger wrote about Rebecca and her fellow female bloggers at the website Skepchick:

The fatal decision was to extend the fight to tackle the greatest problem remaining in modern skepticism – socially awkward male nerds.

“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak - Sun Tzu

The skepchick army, marshalling their forces, decided to attack the nerds their presumed weakest point – on the internet.

Unfortunately, and apparently a surprise for some, the internet is the perfect natural environment of the socially awkward nerd.[10]

As noted earlier, prior to the Elevatorgate incident, Wired magazine made the observation that atheists tend to be quarrelsome, socially challenged men.[11]

Recent studies concerning atheism and women

See also: Atheism and women

A 2008 study by Trinity College found that women are significantly more religious than men in America.[12] In 2007, the Pew Research Center found that American women were more religious than American men.[13]

See also

References