The Elevator

This comic was sent in by Bill Mutranowski from It is referencing a very unfortunate few comments made by someone we had respect for. Apparently, some men think that a woman being propositioned in an elevator at 4am is about as inconveniencing as someone chewing gum. For the back story go here and go here for an early discussion about the comment and finally a perfect summary of the situation by PZ Myers.

Click below to see the comic and thanks to Bill for creating it and sending it in!

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. This raises an interesting thought experiment:

    I’m alone in an elevator with someone in whom I am interested. I have less than a minute before one of us exits the elevator and the opportunity is lost.

    There isn’t time for a proper conversation and being blunt could be terrifying as all get out.

    How does one express interest without being a creep?

  2. Well, first, how well do you know them?

    Personally, the rushed attempt when you have no time to make even the tiniest amount of small talk comes off as “desperate”.

    Big time.

    Especially when you haven’t even had the chance to give them time to get to know you in the slightest.
    If you only have seen them around, and you’ve exchanged pleasantries, then you could try the old line of, “Hey, I hope this isn’t too forward, but would you want to get coffee/a meal A) now ; B) later that day; C) or, at some agreed upon later time?” [Ok, not quite listed like that, but use your best judgment. ANYTHING much more appropriate than 4-in-the-freakin’ mornin’!]

    If you know them pretty well: go by the gauge of how you interact with them. If you have a similar interest, try mentioning that in context with the invitation:

    Example: “Picard or Kirk?” (Their answer, hopefully positive, with a minimum of screaming/or getting the “hairy eyeball”.) “Oh, maybe we should talk about this more, some time.” (Again, 4am is not usually a good time to get into it, but you might get an enthusiastic response. Nerds of both sexes love a good debate, so you could have stared something – most likely not what you were looking for, but it’ll still be a start.)

    It basically boils down to three things:

    1)Your confidence – VERY IMPORTANT! If you come off as “unsure”, nine-out-of-tem times you’ll get a negative response.

    2)Your timing – Seriously, again, you might get lucky at 4am, but, even still, it’s really going to be a rare and potentially awkward event. Try walking up to your “intended” earlier in the day, rather than waiting for some “alone time”. That alone says more about your confidence then just asking.

    3)Be ready to be told “No” – It’s going to happen most of the time. No easy way to say it; but, unless you want a restraining order in your future; it’s best to try again later, or move on.

  3. Not sure that’s possible… Would you really hit on someone that you have seen for 30 seconds – 1 min max.
    Instead if it’s somewhere that you are often, like your work elevator, just smile. Maybe next time you see them you can smile and if they smile back say hey or make small talk.
    My girlfriend tells me all the lines she gets and you would be surprised how many people go from “when’s the next bus” straight to “can I have your number”

  4. Please, he doesn’t wanna talk, just wants to show off his banana. We all know it was designed just right.

  5. If you think theres mutual desire and you have a busines card offer it to them. If they like you or find you intersting but don’t desire you it’s much easier and far less embarressing to explain that in text on facebook or better still Google plus.

  6. The real problem is just the way he went about asking her regardless of his intent. At 4am after someone says that they’ve had enough for the day it’s not appropriate to ask some one back to your room. If his intent was truly honorable then all he needed to say was “I found you very interesting where can I hear more?” If she wanted to talk over coffee then she would have offered at that point. Else it leaves the door open for further conversation down then line. I like to take gender out of the equation when making small talk like this and ask myself is this what I would say to another guy. Honestly I think it would have been just as creepy and in appropriate if it was George Hrab in the elevator and he asked this and I don’t honestly think that the ‘elevator man’ would have asked Geo back to his room ‘for coffee’ and if he did I would expect George to give him the same reply. And if he did and he put in on his podcast would he be greeted with the same response? Rebecca didn’t do anything wrong, and ‘elevator guy’ probably didn’t mean any harm the real issue here is someone made their opinion known and gave in my opinion some good advice and in my opinion was dismissed purely because the advise was from a female point of view. It would be just as wrong in my hypothetical situation if George Hrab gave the advice and a Skepchick dismissed him. Fortunately I don’t honestly think that would happen.

  7. also please ignore the bad grammer above. I checked it 3 times and just noticed that some still snuck through. *head-desk-thump*

  8. I’ve been taken aback by how virulent people have been in attacking this drunken man taking a shot and propositioning a drunken girl on an elevator. There was no touching, no physical contact of any kind, just words.

    I wonder how Rebecca would have reacted if the man propositioning her was muscular, tanned, had perfect teeth, and was gorgeous by anyone’s definition. I wonder, if Hugh Jackman (who’s gay, but ignore that for now) asked her for more than a cup of coffee, if she would have still helped further divide the skeptic community with her rant.

    I guess it’s easy for pretty people to scream and obsess over this kind of stuff, but some us ugly folks would kill to be hit on in an elevator. Please don’t ruin our hopes even more by making a culture where people are afraid to politely express attraction with mere words.

  9. Nice strawman argument. How do you know that he was drunk or ugly? When was any of that ever mentioned by Rebecca? The fact that it WAS impolite and at an inappropriate place AND time and that he ignored her previously publicly expressed desire to be left alone and to go to sleep is more to the point. Let me know when you actually take the time to read or listen to what Rebecca said before Darwkins made his comments and then I’d be happy to have a discussion about how we are “dividing the skeptical community” and how you are being so terribly oppressed.

  10. Reed, you really seem to be caught up in this whole pretty people vs ugly people thing. Maybe it’s not your looks that’re keeping you from getting hit on, maybe it’s your tendency toward hyperbole and martyrdom.
    Amy’s suggestion is apt, you really should watch the actual video. Nowhere in there does Rebecca try to rip a community apart. Quite the contrary in fact, if you actually pay attention to what she’s saying it’s sound advice for building a more comfortable and respectful community.

    “But I guess it’s okay to rip the community apart over a pretty girl getting hit on by someone who’s unattractive.”<—Reed's post from Iszi's blog (very funny btw, Iszi)

  11. I think slut shaming has a lot to do with this. If society shames and shuts down expressions of female desire it devalues it and devalues it’s absolutely vital role in consent. So we get the lunacy of people who don’t think female desire is important and don’t even bother to recognise it. If the guy in the elevator realised how far Rebecca was from asking him to her room he wouldn’t have sexualised the encounter.

  12. Having said that sometimes recognising wether someone desires you is hard and if any of usof either sex or any gender make a verbal sexual advance to someone, no matter how polite, if they take offence, I think we would naturally apologise. Post of an apology that’s accepted is where the whole thing isn’t a big deal, without an apology a relentless stream of incidents where your offended is, and that this incident has brought to a head endemic sexual harassment and misogyny in the skeptic movement is why elavatorgate has got so big.

    Also to someone who doesn’t regularly experience these incidents Rebecca didn’t communicate the creepiness of the encounter well in her video and Richard Dawkins saw that and made up his mind early and unfortunately has stuck to that without thinking about it very much

  13. Threads seem to go dead here pretty quickly but just in case someone is still listening I’m going to throw my 2cents in.

    This whole uproar has been a little dismaying because it has shown that the skeptic community is just as vulnerable to blinding privilege as any other group. Dawkins is really only the most visible example of that depressingly large body of idiots. And please understand that as a white, north american male I have that privilege and have been guilty of being oblivious to it until very recently. In fact the comment threads in Skepchick and Pharyngula over this have been extremely educational for me.

    On the other hand I am unreasonably proud* of the response that the skeptic feminists have mounted. The issue of privilege needed to be dragged out into the open and addressed and it appears that now is the time. Well, past time really. Can you imagine what the world would be like if the founders of Christianity had had these discussions before the theocracies of the middle ages were established? Nah, me neither. The thought of any religious organization ever openly addressing such a topic is laughable.

    Despite the annoyance, despite the seemingly endless supply of idiots I hope this issue continues to be addressed. Change is possible, things can get better but it won’t happen if everyone just agrees to forget about it. And in that i’m pretty hopeful too, because if there’s one thing most skeptics enjoy it’s a good argument. 🙂

    *Unreasonably proud because of course I contributed nothing substantive to the argument. I’m just happy that the segment of society I’ve chosen to associate with has the guts to actually address this issue rather than pretending it doesn’t exist.

  14. The sad thing about this whole ordeal is that grown women think that it’s too much to handle for some idiot to ask them to come back for coffee. That’s misogyny. That’s male privilege. That’s sexual objectification.

    I reject that completely. Male privilege? To ask a question? Then that would necessarily mean it’s “male privilege” to approach a woman anywhere anytime and ask her a question. One can’t say that it’s o.k. in a restaurant or bar, because there may be women whose boundaries are not quite as liberal and may be uncomfortable in a bar just as Skepchick was in an elevator. Who is anyone to say where the appropriate place is besides the individual?

  15. Male privilege has not to do with simply asking a question. Did you honestly not bother reading about this issue at all before you commented? There are like three posts on about this. I even linked to some above.

    Rebecca, was asked back to someone’s room after she gave a talk and then talked later, for hours, in the bar about not wanting to be sexalized or asked out. She then said she was tired, excused herself and was followed back to the elevator by a man who had just heard her say she was tired and did not want to be asked out and guess what? He waited for the doors to close and then he asked her to come back to his room while they were in a confined space. That was creepy. What is sexist is people not listening to the desires of women when they express that they are uncomfortable or when they try to explain topics like this and instead just doing and saying whatever they feel like to satisfy their own needs because they think they can.

  16. I just think it’s disgusting that Rebecca makes a request concerning her own personal boundaries to her own community and gets top level bullied (Richard Dawkins) and that gives licence to everyone else who wants to jump in and do the same. I’m glad PZ Myers is on her side. I think Rebecca is tough and has handled this well with confidence, but shit, what example does all this give to people who aren’t tough amd confident enough to weather a shitstorm over a reasonable request. Yeah I’m disgusted

  17. Perhaps if women we’rent slut shamed for making an earnest verbal sexual advance everyone would be more aware and respectful of female desire and aklsio resoect it;s abscence.

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