Atheist Elevator Redux, Part Deux: The Return of the Nice Guy
So now it’s all about the “nice guys.” It’s not just that mean, mean Rebecca Watson slandered the good name of all men in the world by suggesting that one amongst their number had committed a somewhat creepy act in an elevator at 4 AM. Now some commenters are accusing her of something like a hate crime against the Nice Guys of the world.
According to cranky sometime-Men’s Rights blogger The Damned Olde Man, the woman he refers to only as “Rude Elevator Bitch” has publicly humiliated a man whose only crime was that he was a little bit shy. Embroidering liberally on the scant few facts we know about the case, Olde Man sets forth a brand new narrative of the incident — based largely on his own imagination –with the mysterious man at the center of the story now transformed into a sweet, awkward fellow he calls Nice Elevator Guy:
By all accounts, NEG appears to be a rather shy, somewhat unconfident nerd or geek who appears to be lacking in the social graces.
When Olde says “by all accounts” he actually means “by no accounts.” We have no idea what sort of personality this fellow has, only that he apparently propositioned Walker in an elevator in Dublin at 4 AM.
It was probably not a good idea to ask REB for coffee just after she finished a lecture on how she is offended by men who sexualize her, especially late at night in an isolated elevator. That would be her point of view which she and all of her supporters have stated quite eloquently. So if one only accounts for REB’s feelings, it was the wrong thing to do. But how about looking at the situation from NEG’s point of view?
That is, from the imaginary point of view of the imaginary character Olde has simply superimposed on a real man we know almost nothing about.
A shy, socially awkward nerd who lacks confidence is likely to feel uncomfortable in any situation where he intends to proposition a woman. But he is likely to be terrified of doing it in a public setting with plenty of people around to witness his humiliation when she turns him down. So from his point of view, an isolated elevator in the middle of the night is probably the ideal location, especially since he was probably never going to have this opportunity again.
Note to shy guys of the world: this is not a good idea. It’s not going to work out well for you.
I’m not quite sure if that’s necessary. I’m a shy guy, and I’m pretty sure most of us shy guys already know that propositioning a woman when the two of you are alone in an confined space is a bad idea. Many of us who sometimes feel awkward in social settings have what is known as “empathy” towards other people and thus are aware when something we do might just make someone else feel awkward. Olde Man continues:
His fear of humiliation is probably not as irrational as her fear of rape and in hindsight, it was definitely more justified. He didn’t rape her, she did reject him. She not only rejected him, she humiliated him, publically, for all the world to see.
Yeah. She “publicly” humiliated a guy she never named. According to a guy who has just written a long post in which he repeatedly refers to her — a blogger who posts under her real name — as a “bitch.”
It’s bad enough to read this bullshit in MRA blogs, where it’s irritating but hardly surprising.
It’s a bit more troubling to find much of this dumb argument repeated – in somewhat more polite language, admittedly – in Psychology Today. In a post entitled “What’s a Shy, Geeky, Nice Guy to Do?” cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman offers a very similar version of events, in which
a nervous, presumably geeky, socially awkward guy gets on [the elevator] ]with her … [his] heart probably beating fast and palms sweety as heck … .
“Presumably,” “probably” – in other words, these details are simply invented.
While Kaufman acknowledges that the mysterious (alleged) Nice Guy’s approach was “lame,” he, like Olde Man, turns the story into one in which Nice Guys are the real victims:
many entitled, narcissistic males have commented to the effect “what an ungrateful bitch, she should be grateful for being complimented!”, and quite a few feminists have commented “good for Rebecca for scolding men, they need to be put in their place!” All the while, shy, geeky, genuinely nice guys have sat there, reading these extreme comments, no doubt scratching their heads and wondering what in the world they are to do.
What is a shy, geeky, nice guy to do?
Then Kaufman gives some advice on how the Nice Elevator Guy could have handled the attempted pick-up better:
Don’t be creepy. Asking a girl to your hotel room in an elevator at 4 in the morning when the girl has already announced she is tired shows very poor mating intelligence. …
Well, yeah. He continues:
Look for indicators of interest. Any dating coach will tell you how important it is to look for signals of interest. Pay attention to her state. Does she look exhausted?
Generally speaking, when a woman gives a talk about how she hates being hit on at atheist conferences, then later announces that she’s tired and wants to go to bed, these are what you might call “Indicators of Leave Me the Fuck Alone.”
Kaufman goes on:
Does she cringe when you start talking? That’s probably not the right time to put your arm around her.
Can’t argue with that one, really. Cringing: never a good sign.
Kaufman barrels ahead with this mixture of the obvious and the creepy:
Build some sort of rapport first. The guy in the elevator was a complete stranger. There was zero connection. What could the guy have done to increase his chances of receptivity in this particular situation, when she clearly was not in the mood? It’s hard to imagine he could have done anything, but at the very least he could have tried to make some sort of connection.
Or, here’s a radical notion: he could have just LEFT HER ALONE. This one tired lady in the elevator is not the only lady in the world. There will be other chances. Stand down, dude.
But Kaufman, who can’t leave well enough alone himself, goes on to imagine a scenario in which Nice Elevator Guy manages to charm Watson utterly.
RUPERT: Oh, hi Rebecca! I’m a huge fan of yours. I really liked your ideas earlier about skepticism…feminism…blah…blah…And I totally hear you about the guys here. They really are creepy, aren’t they? [Insert witty joke here about how if you were a female at this conference you'd become a lifelong skeptic of geeky men]
WATSON: [Laughs] Yea, thanks for understanding. You were really listening to what I said earlier. What do you research?
Ungghhhh. Excuse me, but I have to go lie down for a moment. The stupid here is too much.
After a bit more of this imagined witty banter, the charmed WATSON is inviting HIM to HER room!
It was at this point that I discovered that there was another whole page worth of this shit. I couldn’t bring myself to read it.