Attack of the feminism: Richard Dawkins v. Jen McCreight edition

If you follow Pharyngula and Blag Hag like I do, you probably caught wind of this whole fiasco in which Richard Dawkins is being decried by Jen and many others for apparently making some dude-privilege remarks.

Here's how the story unfolded, as I understand it:
  1. Rebecca Watson of Skepchick posted a video talking about her experience at an atheist conference in Dublin. At around 4 a.m., she got onto an elevator to go back to her room, and a man got on the elevator with her. He said, "Don't take this the wrong way, but I find you really interesting and I'd like to talk more. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?" Rebecca then goes on to say that being "sexualized" like that made her uncomfortable.
  2. Stef McGraw, a girl who was at the conference, says that Rebecca was overreacting to being hit on. Rebecca responds with a blog post in which she decries Stef's comments as "anti-women rhetoric", among other things.
  3. PZ Myers posts about it on Pharyngula, and Richard Dawkins posts a couple of comments in which he mocks Rebecca for equating being asked on a coffee date to sexual objectification and harassment, suggesting that it's an insult to women who have to deal with actual harassment, oppression, and objectification.
  4. Jen then posts a blog deriding Dawkins for being insensitive and clueless about women, and showing his "privilege" as a rich white male. 
Well, count me as being clueless and insensitive, then. Sure, asking a woman for a coffee date in an elevator at 4:00 in the morning is not the most tactful or effective way to get a date. But I'm flabbergasted at Rebecca's insistence that she was being "sexualized" because the guy said she was interesting and he'd like to talk more. Did he have an ulterior motive? Maybe, maybe not – nobody knows. What matters is that she refused, he ceased all advances, and that was the end of it. And yet people are lighting up the comments on these posts equating Rebecca's experience to "harassment".

Now, if the guy hadn't taken "no" for an answer, if he'd made lewd comments, or if he'd tried to make any uninvited physical contact whatsoever, I'd be totally fine with seeing this as harassment or "sexualization". But the sap just complimented her and asked if she'd like to talk more; she declined, and that was the end of it. Okay, so it's kind of awkward having to turn down an invitation for a date while in an elevator. When is it not awkward to refuse a date?

Inevitably, angry feminists will tell me what a horrible person I am. To which I say, no, you are the horrible ones, assuming that a sheepish guy asking a girl out on a coffee date really had no other intention than to get into her pants or even rape her. Richard Dawkins was totally right to call out Rebecca on her hypersensitivity. She wasn't "sexualized". She was complimented (for being "interesting", not for, say, "having a killer rack"), politely asked on a date, and left alone when she refused. If that's "harassment" or being "sexualized", I am the fertility god of Germanic mythology. And when self-proclaimed feminists use hyperbolic language like "sexualized" and "harassment" to characterize such innocuous circumstances, it's an insult to the real difficulties that women face.


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