(This was originally posted at my old blog on July 8, 2011.)
If Athiests had a God, they would have been invoking its name online quite a lot lately, thanks to the thoroughly impolite dustup between two icons of the skeptic community: vlogger Rebecca “Skepchick” Watson and noted author Richard Dawkins. Seems Rebecca attended a skeptics conference in Dublin recently, and a fellow male attendee got onto an elevator with her at 4 am, as she’d just announced she was heading for bed.
Then this happened: “Don’t take this the wrong way,” he said (according to Watson’s blog), “but I find you very interesting and I would like to talk more. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?” Rebecca declined. Then she mentioned it briefly, at the end of an eight-minute report on the conference:
Um, just a word to the wise here, guys, uh, don’t do that. You know, I don’t really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4:00 am, in a hotel elevator, with you, just you, and — don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.
Had she been talking about that very thing in the bar, or at the panel she was on? I don’t know. But I know she didn’t have to. For those who need that explained, give me a minute. First, let’s take a look at Dawkins’ shitstorm-inducing response to her blog:
…she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so…
Later, after the storm of shit had begun raining turds on the athiest community, he clarified:
“She was probably offended to about the same extent as I am offended if a man gets into an elevator with me chewing gum. But he does me no physical damage and I simply grin and bear it until either I or he gets out of the elevator.”
Not even. Not even if he offers to open your mouth and put his gum in it, which would freak you out, but still wouldn’t be as uncomfortable as a strange man in an enclosed space offering to take you with him back to another enclosed space.
I learned this lesson when I was about half Dawkins’ age. I’d offered the exact same thing to a young girl at a sci-fi convention, hoping for sex but not at all planning to force the issue, and not offering coffee (I think I may have offered marijuana, but that’s the con world for you). She declined, looking even more uncomfortable than Rebecca did on her video. And I wondered why. Aloud. Which is when a friend offered some sage advice, which I have carried with me ever since.
Women don’t know you’re not trying to rape them.
You know you’re a good guy. She doesn’t. Especially not if you’re a complete stranger. Especially not at 4 am, which every man recognizes as last call for both vaginas and alcohol. Not when you’re in a foreign country and you don’t even know where the cops are or how to get them quickly. Not when you’re in a small enclosed space. Not when (as is usually the case) the other person is capable of overpowering you. Not when he’s also offering to take you to another enclosed space, one which has a lock on it. And most certainly not all these things together.
Women don’t know. They can’t know. Not even after talking to you all night. Not even after personally knowing you and having met you a few times. Not even after a first date. Sometimes, they’re wrong after a series of dates. Sometimes they’re wrong about someone they’re dating. Or engaged to. Or married to.
Most straight men are perfectly capable of overpowering a woman, often with no weapon, and forcing his cock inside them. That is a fact. It’s also a fact that the majority of men recoil in horror at the idea of fucking the truly unwilling, but our foreheads are not translucent. It’s impossible to know by looking at us. And humans love to lie. I’m six feet tall and built big and am also fat. American fat. So when I get on an elevator, and there’s no one else there but a woman, one woman, she looks at me like she’s getting ready to bolt. I don’t get offended by that anymore.
I personally don’t like dating, because I don’t like most rituals. But this one serves a purpose: it was designed to put a man and a woman (for the purposes of this discussion) in a public place, in order to let him show her that he was not only interesting, and witty, and caring, but also not about to brutally violate her. You’re not taking her in, you’re taking her out. Did you know that single women in apartments were once required to leave their door open when entertaining a gentleman caller? This was to discourage a) prostitution and b) rape. It’s the same reason single women aren’t allowed into the porno store booth alone. (Not that I’d know about that.) You don’t have to be a ball-busting humorless man-hater to get this.
For Dawkins’ sake, however, let’s play, um, devil’s advocate. Let’s say you had hung out with Rebecca all night, had in fact attended her panel where she talked about being a feminist, and you sincerely respected her and wanted to get to know her better, with no immediate thought of her panties or what was in them. It’s 4 am. She’s tired and going to bed. She’s announced this. If you wanted to have coffee, wouldn’t you just say, “Hey, there’s a coffee shop down the street. Want to meet me there tomorrow when you wake up? My friends will be there.” The coffee thing is, frankly, bullshit. Guys know that line. Coffee in a hotel room at 4 am — again, with a total stranger — doesn’t necessarily mean “I’m gonna rape you,” but itdoes mean “Damn, I hope I can get you to somehow have sex with me.”
And, just for the sake of argument: let’s say you’re at a bar, and you see a girl who’s really hot, and you want to try and take her on a date. If you go up to her and say “You’re really pretty, I’d love to take you to a movie sometime,” and she says, “Ha ha ha ha! Are you kidding?! I would never fuck you!” your first thought should probably be, “Wow. What a bitch. She would probably make me miserable.” I’ve known guys who have literally fucked dozens and dozens of women. Verified by the women themselves. And yet these men all know at least one (and usually several) women who refuse to fuck them. Women are not Pokemon. You’ll never get them all. Given what we know about the human race, I’m not sure you should want to.
Let’s try an exercise, guys. We all know that if a strange woman came up to you at a convention and said, “Hey, you wanna go back to my hotel room for coffee?” you might think, “Hey! I’m getting laid! Awesome.” (It certainly happens at sci-fi cons. And, again, without the coffee.) But let’s say a man came up to you and said that. If you’re a straight man, you’d probably feel uncomfortable. But you wouldn’t feel threatened.
Now let’s say that same stranger walked up and said, “Hey! Hand me your wallet. I want to show you a trick.” Would you do it? Even if it was someone you’d met once or twice? Probably not. You’d probably have to be pretty good friends with someone before that would happen. (And fellas, don’t talk to me about accidentally ending up in the friend zone. We all know that decision gets made immediately and usually irrevocably.) Your wallet is really important to you. You’re not gonna let someone just take it. This guy probably doesn’t want to rob you. But what if you’re wrong? How well do you know this guy? Are there other people around? If he does it, will he get away with it?
Some women (quite a few these days) indulge in rape fantasies and rape play. They like to do it because they know men like to be forceful, and that it makes them passionate. They like passion the same way we like force. But check out the second half of those phrases: fantasy. play. It’s a game. One they play with someone they know. Really, really well. Someone they trust. They may want to fuck you. They may even enjoy being taken. But they want to make the decision. Because — and here’s a little secret — it’s their pussy. You only get to visit, son.
Once I went to a strip club, and something happened to me that never happens to most guys outside of porn: a really hot blonde stripper I’d never met invited me to have breakfast with her, and then invited me back to her place. Was I thinking, “I’m gonna get laid!”? No. I thought, “Great. This bitch wants me to buy her some goddamn breakfast.” And as we went to her apartment, I thought, “This bitch is gonna try and rob me.” As it turned out, she paid for breakfast. And she did not rob me. But she did not fuck me. That night. Because she got to know me first. See how it works?
Attention straight men: Women are not required to fuck you, or to want to fuck you, or to be happy about you asking. And if you really had the game you thought you had, you wouldn’t care.