Elevatorgate II

This story about a man who set a woman on fire in an elevator just put an end to the Elevatorgate lack of perspective incident with Rebecca Watson and Richard Dawkins, so can we finally just agree that elevators are more often places of danger for women and that people should perhaps consider their circumstances before imposing themselves upon another person?


23 thoughts on “Elevatorgate II

  1. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, whose quotes seem to apply to all facets of my life:

    “I wouldn’t want to sleep with a woman who said ‘Yes’ when I propositioned her in an elevator.”

  2. Pingback: My Elevator Story | Random Ntrygg

  3. Sandro I want to thank you for sticking with me through this conversation.
    it’s been educational for me.

    So your premise is really that it was unfair of Watson to tar men with a blanket – men are dangerous label and racism is a bit of red herring to illustrate that point. Which is why it never made sense to me, because being a good person means not racist to me.

    so racism just doesn’t enter into my understanding of what it means to be a socially capable person.

    we are in fact, saying the same things – that each of us has to be responsible for how we present ourselves in the world and we have to deal with each other as individuals, not as groups represented by individuals.

    Your interpretation of Watson’s blog was that she was saying that all men are oblivious to the reality of being a woman and that obliviousness is misogyny.

    and you are disagreeing with her premise because you are a man and not unaware or oblivious.

    So let me share two examples from my own experience.

    1. I was working in a video store – a man walked out of the porn section to the counter, looked me straight in the tits and blurted out “Wow, you wanna go out sometime?”

    2. I was waiting to cross the street, when I saw a man get off the bus on the other side of the road. He looked at me, then at traffic and ran across 4 lanes of moving traffic to stand beside me. I looked at him and his only words to me were “Do you have time to go to a hotel?”

    If I had been straight and available, that second man would have gotten me into that hotel room, willingly. Because I saw how hard he worked to approach me and I was flattered by his interest – he almost got run over. That’s flattering. That he was tall, good looking, well dressed and to my eye, would have been out of my league if I was straight.

    The first guy, was repulsive. He would have had a better chance to come back another time and approach me in a way that didn’t raise a lot of ick factor flags – not to mention, he was fresh off a construction site and leaving drywall dust all over my store’s carpet – so making a problem for me to clean up and gross besides and disrespectful.

    so guys – if you want to get a girl to have sex with you – why does treating her like a valuable person never enter into the equation for you?

    Because that’s what misogyny is – not treating women like people.

    Sorry if you don’t like what it feels like, but maybe you can understand women a little better.

    You can’t know what it’s like to be a woman until you accept that it’s other men’s behaviors that make us resist your good intentions – because too many other men behave badly.

    So if you want women to relax and get playful with sex – because the consequences of sex are different for women than for men – then you need to get the other men in line and not ruining the women for you.

    • Rebecca Watson’s Elevatorguy was probably the 100th Video Store Guy and because of the internet – he got blogged.

      and because it’s the internet and not just talking with girlfriends – then it went viral and out of control.

      but it polarized people because it’s a common experience and it gets down to the difference between men and women and the problems of how each gender communicates poorly. Neither side can or will listen to the other, because as soon as you say that one side is bigotted.

      men are predators – then all the men who aren’t predators are emotional and denying that they are predators and are wholly concerned with their place in the story and not listening to the women’s place.

      and women respond with hurt because all they see is men doing them wrong and treating them as lesser than AGAIN – that it’s a lower and safer magnitude of lesser than isn’t the point – it’s one again, our experience of our reality is denied or devalued.

    • so basically – Sandro:

      You came onto my blog and called me a loon, then because racism is a reality in your world so you can’t imagine that it’s not a reality of my world – you get hurt that I am saying people should be considerate to women because of the reality of life for women generally.

      And because your pet issue of racism isn’t being made forefront in a discussion about being a socially capable person – because that no racism is right there with don’t scare women, we get scared enough already

      You argue repeatedly the same misunderstanding and then you claim to be ethical and morally superior to me?

      When my whole arguement is don’t be a obnoxius dick to other people and be sensitive to their interest and engagement level with you –

      this doesn’t suggest somewhere in your mind that this includes don’t be racist as well as the specified intimidating or insensitive?

      because I don’t understand how you are missing that connection

      bias, intolerance and thinking others are lesser than you for any reason is not okay.

  4. You seem to be waving away this racist counterargument without addressing the very serious charge. There is simply NO argument I can conceive for why the black man should have to give the racist’s fears any consideration. The fact that you’re implying there is such an argument should concern you, but perhaps you will surprise me and provide a good reason.

    I’ll also reiterate again, I’ve already acknowledged that empathy and the elevator scenario are all legitimate matters of etiquette, so they would be a consideration for many people. You don’t have to explain “how to connect with people”, and about people’s assumptions, and so on. The question here is one of ethics, because you consider the elevator scenario to be misogynous.

    Etiquette is discretionary, where ethics are mandatory. The burden of proof for the latter is much higher, and you will have to solve the racial counterargument in order to meet it.

    If there exists even a single objective ethical argument justifying why the black man should defer to the racist’s prejudice, then there must exist at least one argument for the gender case as well. If there really is NO legitimate argument justifying the racism, then no legitimate argument can exist in the gender case either. It’s inescapable logic.

    You said something else quite interesting, but I don’t want to distract from this critical point so I’ll hold off on that for now.

    • No, I think that we are just approaching the story from different POVs and understanding – and we’re not really listening to each other because we’re in very different places.

      I honestly do not understand racism or how anyone can think that their particular group is better than most or all others.

      In the situation of the black man initiating a conversation with a white person – you would not have to assume a person that you are asking the time of day from to respond in a racist or derogatory manner

      so it’s not that you should have to walk around on egg shell trying not to offend other people or be fearful of how they may react from their ignorance and bigotry.

      a black man and a white man are in terms of physical ability – on par with each other – neither has a clear physical edge –

      and when you pay attention to people, you can see how open they are to verbal exchanges

      so a man and a woman – in terms of physical ability – are not on par – men have more upper body strength and very generally speaking, aren’t going to pull their punches if an encounter gets violent

      whereas, most women are not prepared or capable of or committed to violence as a defense – they freeze, panic or worse, do what authority tells them – comply with your rapist/attacker and hope they let you live.

      A man to a woman vs a man to man are just not comparible to make one rule to apply in both situation.

      Asking for the time from someone is a different social exchange than asking someone to have sex with you.

      There’s an order of magnitude difference that you are missing.

      The black man might be subjected to a racist rant – but that’s not nearly the same risk as a woman being raped and potentially murdered.

      The black man also can just ask “what time is it” without having to do all the same prep work as a man trying to get a woman in to bed.

      It’s not just ethics or manners – it’s about understanding and respecting that you are dealing with another person who doesn’t know your intentions.

      So if you want the time – I can give you the time – no matter what you look like.

      But if you want me to leave the elevator and go to your room – then I need more assurances and enrolment than asking the time takes –

      dealing with people is not a blanket rule that applies to all situations

      you have to recognize their individuality and adapt to the specific scenario and circumstances – whatever they may be

      • a black man and a white man are in terms of physical ability – on par with each other – neither has a clear physical edge –

        This is not a counter argument. I could easily say the black man is large and imposing, and the white man is small and sickly, and that doesn’t change the ethical argument. It’s still racism, and you’re defending it.

        By analogy, you are therefore also defending sexism against men.

        This question of ethics vs. etiquette is important. Explain why the racism is ethically justified, and not merely a matter of politeness on the black man’s part that he may choose to follow or not follow, and I will agree that your consideration rule ought to be mandatory.

        Your only counterargument is that asking for the time is different than asking for sex. The racism scenario could be about sex as well, for instance, with both men being gay and open to spontaneous sexual propositions. It’s still racist. It doesn’t change the fact that one person’s subjective views are being used to oppress another person’s actions. In the racism scenario, the racist’s views are oppressing the black man, and in the gender scenario, the female’s fear of assault is oppressing the man’s right to speak. You have not provided any consistent ethical argument why this oppression should be mandatory.

        Your only available counterargument would have to be that the racist’s fears are not factual, and the woman’s fears are factually supported. This too is not a legitimate argument. Suppose the sickly white racist is now in a neighbourhood with a high crime rate, as high as the rate of rape you believe exists, is the scenario any less racist? No, it’s not.

        Even ignoring that, how much factual support does a woman’s fears need before we should give them consideration? Will any level of fear suffice? If so, there exist women who are afraid of wooden dummies. So then should a ventriloquist avoid asking a woman for the time because she might be afraid of the dummy? That’s absurd.

        So then any level of fear is too much consideration. You then have to quantify the level of fear required before consideration is justified, and explain why this seemingly arbitrary line is not really arbitrary.

        • You know what, racism is not defensible at all and you are badgering me for holding a position that you think I hold and I have no clue what you are talking about.

          My whole premise is that if you are going to ask someone to fuck you

          you better do the work that sets up your ability to ask that question

          it does not serve your goal to ask in a way that is off putting and even frightening and just because you have good intentions doesn’t matter – the other person has to know you have good intentions.

          If men aren’t willing to consider what it means to be a woman in society, then maybe they should be asking other men for sex, since men seem to have the same level of understanding as each other – so there’s a lot less potential for miscommunication between men than men and women.

          My point is about how one person acts with other people not as a blanket rule for all the people you encounter, but to encounter each person as they are given their group identifiers and within the boundaries of the scenario.

          I don’t think expecting people to be socially capable of navigating in a multi-cultural world with a wide diversity of people is too much to expect or ask anymore.

          Basically, stop being so fucking self centred and consider the other person’s experience and adjust your approach accordingly. That’s not racist and it’s not a defense of racism.

          How you’ve twisted that into me defending racism is beyond me and rather insulting.

          • You know what, racism is not defensible at all and you are badgering me for holding a position that you think I hold and I have no clue what you are talking about.

            I don’t think you’re a racist, but your arguments can certainly be construed that way. Consider your last point, “stop being so fucking self centred and consider the other person’s experience and adjust your approach accordingly”. So the black person should stop being so self centered and consider the scared racist’s experiences with bad racial stereotypes and avoid talking to the racist in closed quarters. Don’t you see how this is the racial equivalent of “mansplaining”?

            You keep going on about it being a good idea to consider the other person’s perspective, and do the work to connect with someone, and so on. Great, I agree that it’s a good idea, and polite. But the issue here is whether NOT doing this prep work, and NOT considering this prep work as ethically relevant, makes you a misogynist.

            You and others have clearly said “yes” to this last point, and I have shown you that this answer is a contradiction, because if it were a racial situation, your answer would be racist. I honestly can’t be any more clear on this point.

          • I wasn’t assuming that you thought that I was racist, only that you are reading that interpretation into my arguement.

            But given that the entire point of my commenting on elevator gate was to chastise men who couldn’t understand why it’s not okay to dump on a woman after she reported an experience that she found distressing.

            And tell her that she is not entitled to be the expert of her own experience

            and that to say that each of us should be aware of the people around us and make adjustments to your conduct so to not make someone feel uncomfortable

            then it should go without saying that means no one is entitled to go out of their way to be a racist dick either.

            I am not saying be considerate of women and no other people. I am saying be consideration to anyone you’re around.

            Clearly, the misunderstaning in this debate is more about the differences in Canadian and American society.

            To me your racist twist of my argument is nonsensical – because anyone who’s willing to be considerate of others isn’t limiting themselves to a sub-portion of the population – it’s across the population.

          • the white black issue is an American society thing that doesn’t resonant in Canada.

            That’s not to say that people aren’t racist – just that we tend to keep those views private because there are consequences if you don’t.

            Plus, Canada never had slavery like in America – we treated a number of population groups like slaves, but there was no owning.

            So the baggage that America has, doesn’t ring true in reality and you guys – and by that I mean America as a whole – need to move beyond it.

            it’s that baggage that’s dragging down your understanding of what I’ve written = not what I wrote.

          • Clearly, the misunderstaning in this debate is more about the differences in Canadian and American society.

            I’m Canadian also, but our nationalities are irrelevant to the argument. It’s unfortunate that you don’t understand the parallels in the argument you’re making to the racist scenario.

            Watson can be the author of her own experience all she wants, and she’s free to inform people that what that man did was kinda rude, and she’s free to advise men on how not to be rude, but what she’s NOT free to do is to then call men that are rude misogynists. Misogyny is a matter of ethics, not a matter of etiquette, as I’ve explained many times now.

            Some rude actions are misogynous, but not all rude actions are misogynous, and every argument presented to classify the elevator rudeness as misogynous are contradictory.

            Being considerate is generally a good thing, but NOT being considerate to women doesn’t necessarily make you a misogynist. That’s an important point that seems to have been lost.

  5. can we finally just agree that elevators are more often places of danger for women and that people should perhaps consider their circumstances before imposing themselves upon another person?

    Elevatorgate was never a question of whether enclosed spaces are more dangerous for women, it was a question of whether a proposition in an enclosed space is sexist, because it dismisses the concerns women have of sexual assault. However, the woman’s concerns of sexual assault are a blatant presumption of guilt, and so also sexist. If an argument supporting alleged sexism is itself sexist, that argument is invalid.

    However, sexual assault is a real concern for women in our imperfect world. While it is not sexist to proposition a woman in an elevator, but it is absolutely impolite given the woman’s vulnerability and possible discomfort in this scenario.

    If “impolite” was as far as Elevatorgate went, then Watson could have raised awareness of this issue, and many of us who wish to be polite would have taken it to heart. Instead, the whole debacle surrounding it’s alleged sexism has polarized the community, and caused many people to write Watson and her supporters off. And that’s truly unfortunate.

    • I think that if you consider how people experience things – as they happen – then it should be more clear why it is more than impolite.

      When you meet a person – you have no idea what their life experience has been and they have no idea what yours is.

      We live in a society where if you are charged with a crime, you are innocent until proven guilty.

      But there is so much harm in the world that this is not true of how we blanket encounter people.

      This entire situation comes down to understanding how and what we communicate. Poor communication leads to misunderstandings and ElevatorGate illustrates exactly how wrong a random communication can go – from the elevator to the internet.

      If I – as a woman of 5 feet and 6 inches and morbidly obese – am alone in an elevator and a man gets on that I do not know; as long as he’s well mannered in appearance and behaviours – there’s no cause for alarm.

      But if the man gets on and tries to engage me in a conversational level from 0 to 10 – a stranger to intimate partner scale – and he tries to jump to 3 or 4 (3 being seeking something beyond the current encounter) and bypassing the stages of greeting and meeting each other – then there is something very off putting that most people are too busy in their minds and lives to pay attention to.

      It’s very much if a person offers to assist you with an unexpected flat tire in the parking lot and when you tell them no thanks, they won’t go away – they are most likely a serial killer who flattened your tire than a genuinely helpful bystander.

      People who cannot or will not take no or pick up on the “I’m just not that into you” visual facial and body clues, the tone of voice – then they are telling you that they are no one you should waste time on, because they are only interested in themselves and what you do for them – and they are not interested in you as person.

      Because while it is very flattering to have someone hit on you – and it is flattering – I once had a man run across 4 lanes of moving traffic to stand beside me on the street corner and ask me if I had time to have dinner with him – that even though, I was a lesbian who had a girlfriend (now spouse) – his approach was so open and intense that I actually would have gone with him to that hotel, because he knew how to get the most out of a moment – it was a Movie Rom Com quality moment in fact.

      When someone hits on you that you aren’t open to, who’s just trying to bulldoze you to meet their need – who gives no consideration to setting the mood by picking their moment – and a place of vulnerability for your intended is NEVER the moment – because:

      when a strange man asks you to go with him out of a confined space where no one else knows or sees – given the state of society – more likely, it’s going to be a serial killer than the love of your life. That’s just reality – and operating in the world and being oblivious to that – results in Elevator Gate and the backlash.

      Because, the only person’s who’s experience in that situation matters is Rebecca Watson – who was the target of the inconsiderate, insensitive, and not well conceived no matter how good the intention might have been.

      And it’s because people don’t take the time to consider the setting, the mood, to engage a person and draw them – that elevator gate happened.

      Another guy – or me if I was single – who knows how to seduce, would have had another Rebecca blogging about the incredible sex.

      It’s not enough for the asker to know their intention is honourable – they have to establish their intentions to the intended before asking the girl to bed.

      Because without having an understanding of the intention, there is no way to hit all the right notes.

      • When someone hits on you that you aren’t open to, who’s just trying to bulldoze you to meet their need […]

        Having just come to this dispute, I’ve read quite a bit about it, but I haven’t read any account or seen any evidence that this man was pressuring Watson in any way. He simply invited her to his room. There’s little doubt the invitation had romantic/sexual undertones, but that alone does not constitute bulldozing.

        But this is all beside the point, because most of Watson’s supporters are implying that the proposition itself in an enclosed space was sexist, and in fact harshly criticize those who don’t agree with that characterization. The other side has certainly been just as bad of course. It is merely this stance that I emphatically disagree with, and in fact, I and others argue that calling the proposition sexist is itself sexist since it’s prejudiced against men.

        I agree with you that everyone has their own life experiences, and their own fears and insecurities, and if we wish to get to know them we should respect their boundaries. But respecting a person’s boundaries beyond the physical is an issue of etiquette.

        It’s not enough for the asker to know their intention is honourable – they have to establish their intentions to the intended before asking the girl to bed.

        I don’t think anyone on either side of this issue would disagree that this is generally a good idea, and the polite thing to do. The question is whether skipping that step entirely and merely issuing a proposition, particularly in an enclosed space, is misogynous.

        The argument made is that women feel trapped and vulnerable to a possible sexual assault, and so the man making the proposition is exploiting his power over her.

        Now replace “woman” in the above story with “racist white man”, and replace “man” with “black man”. The racist feels trapped and vulnerable to a possible mugging, and so the “scary black man” making the proposition is exploiting his power over the racist white man. This story is clearly racist, but Watson and her supporters can’t seem to acknowledge that this means the original story is therefore equally prejudiced against men, and thus sexist.

        And this is why I said that not propositioning women in enclosed spaces is merely a matter of politeness and consideration for those women who feel uncomfortable or fearful in this scenario.

        • It’s not just about the one incident – it’s an incident that highlights the problem of being a woman in the world

          and men need to understand that as a strange man – he is not on the surface any different from any other man the woman has encountered.

          and without knowing what her experience with men is – presuming that a person is open to an invitation at all without bothering to make any determination about her openness to any invitation regardless of circumstances

          is misogyny – it’s saying that a man who’s interested in a woman doesn’t have to consider at all whether SHE’s interested or open or how receptive she is at that time, given the current circumstances

          and it’s men who understand seduction who succeed or fail, without becoming an internet story

          Because sometimes no does mean try hard or try me later – but men are too involved in their own needs and desires to consider if the no they are hearing is a final no or a try harder or later no

          or worst, a yes so you will leave me alone or a yes so you won’t escalate

          without considering what your proposal might trigger in a person, without making your proposal in a safe and engaging manner under appropriate circumstances

          you are forcing yourself upon another person without regard to their sense of personal sovereignty and safety

          and that’s why men have to be given simple instructions – no means no – because they aren’t working out that the world is more complex than they understand it to be.

          and because men in this discussion haven’t understood what it means to a woman to be a woman in the world where men take actions from their own desire without regard to other people

          they haven’t understood why Rebecca and her supporters are so frustrated and stymied to make their points

          we continue to not be listened to just like in the elevator.

          it is really so hard start in first gear and not presume to jump to third gear?

          There’s a Rita Rudner joke – about walking on the street and seeing a man from 3 blocks away.

          “In my mind, I meet him, I can see the whole relationship in my head; so by the time that I am face to face with him on the street – he smiles at me and I scream “I want my record albums back”. ”

          Elevator guy wasn’t interacting with Rebecca, he didn’t engage her enough to enroll her in his interest in her, because he wasn’t interested in her as a person, but as a body to masturbate into – and even though his intentions were not out of the ordinary – a random sexual encounter – the lack of consideration for her person is on par with a serial killer’s – it’s all about the fantasy in their minds and nothing to do with the person right in front of them.

          That’s never flattering and it’s not good intentioned.

          • presuming that a person is open to an invitation at all without bothering to make any determination about her openness to any invitation regardless of circumstances is misogyny

            Analogously, a black man should really consider the racist’s feelings on whether he should ask for the time. Don’t you see the problem with this argument?

            You have again ignored how your argument is racist if the two people were of different race. Simply exchanging race for gender shows that your argument is sexist.

            You have only two choices to resolve this contradiction:
            Deny that men deserve equal rights to women.
            Deny that the elevator scenario is misogynist.
            There is no other choice, so what’s it going to be?

            it’s saying that a man who’s interested in a woman doesn’t have to consider at all whether SHE’s interested or open or how receptive she is at that time, given the current circumstances

            Determining whether she’s interested is achieved by asking her whether she’s interested. It really can’t get much simpler. If you’re arguing that social acrobatics are required in order to avoid being thought a misogynist when asking any sort of question a woman may not like, then that term has lost all meaning.

            because he wasn’t interested in her as a person, but as a body to masturbate into […] it’s all about the fantasy in their minds and nothing to do with the person right in front of them.

            Firstly, you are asserting knowledge without proof.

            Secondly, everyone is perfectly within their rights to ask others if they’re willing to be a body to be masturbated into. If a straight man had been propositioned by a gay man, is the gay man a misandrist? Of course not, and as I’ve explained twice now, that entire argument is absurd.

            Asking such a bold question does not imply you hate the entire class of people that person belongs to, whether that class be defined by gender, race, height, weight, languages spoken, or anything else. That’s what misogyny is about, and to try and twist it’s meaning around to classify situations that women might consider “rude”, is frankly shameful.

            As for the rest of your post, I’m not sure why you keep trying to lecture me on unrelated subjects. I’m not jumping any gears, I am pointing out a fundamental, logical contradiction in your arguments, and you are not addressing this contradiction. Assertion is not proof, so continuing to say this scenario is misogynist without proving why will not convince anyone.

          • Sandro you are trying to apply a single rule to all social situations, and there is one – consider the Person to whom you are talking.

            What factors you consider depend on the circumstances and the particular people involved.

            You can’t just go around saying I’m a good guy who’s harmless and assume everyone can tell because gosh, you’re so awkward and well intentioned but socially clumsy – the world and other people’s don’t owe you that assumption.

            People react to the world based in their experience of it. If you steam roller into someone, without consideration of what their experience and receptivity is, then frankly, you probably don’t end up connected to people most of the time.

            Because if Person A is in an elevator with Person B

            How they behave and act towards Person B depends on what characteristics are in play.

            If Person A is a male and Person B is a female – and Person A is seeking to engage in a conversation leading to a suggestion of sex – then Person A needs to consider the advisability, given the experience of women in the world – especially in confined, after hours, not a lot of witnesses consideration.

            If Person A is a white man and Person B is a black man – then that’s a different relationship of characteristics and you have to be able to think about what they might be thinking about you.

            frankly the rule remains the same – it’s about being able to navigate in a world and to engage with people as they are – and treating people as an equal to you is not the same as treating others equally.

  6. Oh wow. Rebecca Watson’s loons are getting even loonier.


    A common tactic for pickpockets is to have an accomplice ask the victim for the time as a distraction, therefore NO ONE SHOULD EVER EVER ASK ANYONE FOR THE TIME EVER, because blah blah blah Schrodinger’s pickpocket accomplice!!

    • Thank you for your demonstration of totally missing the point.

      As much as people need to be aware of their environment to guard against those who would do us harm, so too do people with no ill intent, need to consider their audience.

      If you are really just a nice person interested in someone else, wanting to make a personal connection – then it does you no good to ignore your circumstances and not consider the ways that your intended can misunderstand your approach.

      Nothing can go sideways as fast as an ill-considered self absorbed, but I was only…..

      When what you actually did was be offensive, creepy, inappropriate, intimidating, bigotted or whatever the unintended impact was.

      Nice people with good intentions, need to be as sophisticated in their approach as harm intending predators – you need to take advantage of opportunities to put people at ease, make them comfortable and agreeable, and you have to enroll them in whatever activity you wish to engage them.

      It is not down to the target to see passed the situation they are suddenly in to know you’re a harmless and awkward sort – that’s not good enough anymore – we have to engage each other with an understanding of each other’s understanding.

      For you to be so dismissive of the real concerns of women in vulnerable situations, demonstrates that you are a harmful sort who’s only concern is for them self and your interest without regard for other people’s concerns or feelings or sense of safety; and as such, can only serve as an example of how not to be a decent person in the world.

      Thank you for being such a good bad example of humanity.

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