Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rebecca Watson and Good Intentions

I feel like a total jerk. About a year ago I took the Skepchicks to task with a blog comment criticizing them for their yearly Skepchick calendar. I thought it was playing into sexism and thought, men don't take us seriously so why on Earth would you play into the idea of women as eye-candy?

Now that Rebecca Watson is at the center of a shitstorm for simply asking for a little space and common courtesy (like don't just walk up to a complete stranger in an enclosed space at 4am and ask them to come back to your hotel room in your very first couple of sentences to them, duh.) I cringe at my previous comment. I was aware of sexism and misogyny in the skeptical movement, but I see the problem is much, MUCH bigger than I imagined. She even got a few patronizing and insulting responses from none other than Richard Dawkins on the Pharyngula blog.

So I'd like to apologize to everyone at Skepchick and especially Rebecca. I thought my intentions were good, i.e., not giving men a chance to see women as purely eye-candy. But I was completely, completely in the wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the calendar or women wearing what some would be considered sexy clothing (sometimes this could be anything less than a burka). Women are fully human and nothing diminshes that, not even when you pose for a calendar. Not that I ever thought that it did, I just worried about how some men would react. But it's not a woman's job to educate men that being human and being 'sexy' for a woman aren't mutually exclusive. That should be self-evident, right? I shouldn't have been worried about how any man would react. Intelligent men get it, the ones who don't aren't worth the time or energy to worry about. The fact that there are some people actually connecting the two now to discredit Rebecca makes me sick to my stomach. And even worse the fact that I said something slightly similar, even though I thought I was saying it in an enlightened way and wasn't trying to shame anyone at Skepchick, or sound like a sexist against other women.

I have a great deal of admiration and respect for Rebecca Watson. The nastiness that's been thrown her way is truly sickening and I don't know if I could have handled the same situation with the grace and humor that she has.

So, my apologies Rebecca. You are a new hero to me and a great voice for both skepticism and women's rights. ;)