Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How to not be creepy at a conference

Elevatorgate. The facts, as Rebecca has described the scene:

Rebecca Watson was a speaker at a conference
She spoke as part of a panel discussing the treatment of women
She spent the evening chatting with people
At 4AM, in the hotel bar, she decides to call it a night.
A man follows her into the elevator
The man the asks if she would like to come to his room for coffee.

Elevatorgate is a thing, and apparently it was bad:
Vitreia [M]

As I understood what she was saying, a man who liked her invited her to his room, she declined, and that was the end of it.
He waited until they were alone in an elevator, where she had no choice but to listen to him, and propositioned her for sex. The only way you could not see this as problematic is to fail to understand that women are told, essentially, that they need to be on guard at all times (because if something terrible does happen, they're often blamed for not taking proper precaution). To corner a woman you don't know in an enclosed space and proposition her for sex apropos nothing is extraordinarily inappropriate. Furthermore, Watson had just got done with a speech in which she pleaded with the community to stop sexualizing her.
I'm seriously done with the "elevatorgate wasn't that bad" bullshit. If you don't see any problem with what happened, you don't belong here.
Now, is Dawkins a misogynist? I have no idea. I haven't called him one. But his response to the incident was couched in institutional misogyny, and the defenses of him are, at the very least, wrongheaded and privileged.


Well the incident itself wasn't that bad. It was ignorance, no evidence of malice, on the part of the part of the man.
This is where the "male privilege" part is, right here. Ignorance isn't really an excuse. The male in question didn't respect Watson's boundaries. You're taking it for granted that if you're just nice enough about it, it's okay to hit on a woman in this situation when you've had all of 2-3 minutes to talk to her. That's male privilege. There was no consideration on his part that a) they were in an elevator, and elevators can be close, uncomfortable-feeling places for some people's personal space issues, and b) women aren't automatically impressed and game for sex just because you're bold, male and happen to be polite with your proposition. Assuming either/or is male privilege.

 Where did these new data points come from?

Who knows! But they lead to a good set of rules!

How to not be creepy at a conference

DON'T expect sex. Males often aimlessly walk around believing they deserve sex when they in fact do not.

DON'T share elevators with women.

DON'T ask women questions in private. Pose questions with at least two witnesses.

DON'T pretend to just want coffee. It just makes things super extra creepy. Women will detect your true motivations and be very weirded out.
DON'T ask questions of women in situations where they have few choices. This includes, but is not limited to, transit systems, airport gates, airplanes, anywhere there is assigned seating, all rooms smaller than 20x20, obligatory functions like birthday parties, weddings and other situations where they cannot immediately evacuate the area.

DO wait for the conference to be over and send your query over Twitter, Facebook or email. Electronic communications means women will receive your request while they are safe at home. Even though it would seem unlikely, they will in fact refrain from writing a blog post about being constantly asked out by internet strangers!

DO allow the woman to make any and all sexual advances. This is the norm for modern progressive relationships, as females generally have an intuition about how creepy their advances could be to a male. Women at conferences are empowered and demand that they be the one to ask you on a date. As the relationship progresses, the woman will be the party to put forward a proposal of marriage

DO avoid females with 'chick' or 'bitch' in their usernames or abbreviated biography. Similarly, be wary of men using labels such as 'Dude', 'Guy' or 'Bro'. Such titles are meant to convey a certain attitude - perhaps tough, perhaps tendencies towards informal language. In reality it is a red flag for all kinds of needless drama.

Just follow these simple steps, and you will not be creepy in the slightest.

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