A couple of days ago, McCreight tweeted the following:
Any of us who've had the joy of being poked in the back by some random's boner on the London Underground can probably sympathise.
However, I confess my interest was piqued by a follow-up tweet:
Now, McCreight's Twitter settings prevent me from expanding her tweets to see the responses she's getting, so I can't actually tell you exactly what was said to provoke this response. However, it struck me as such a strange and hyperbolic thing to say - given that based on the original tweet all that had actually happened was that she walked past him while he was engaged in masturbation - that I replied and this conversation happened:
I never received a reply to my last question.
I'll happily admit that at this point I didn't really know where I stood on what McCreight says she experienced. On the one hand, yes it's a bit grim to unexpectedly see someone masturbating on your walk to work - and of course what the homeless man was doing was illegal. On the other hand, I couldn't work out why McCreight seemed to have taken it as such a personal attack on her rights, as in her own words all that had happened was that she'd seen him masturbating while she was "walking by".
The other thing that bothered me was the total lack of concern for the homeless man himself. Here we have a person who is already living on the streets - with all that that suggests about the chances of his having mental illness and/or drug addictions - and who is now so far removed from the societal inhibitions that usually govern our public behaviour that he is masturbating openly in a public place. There is a REASON that most people don't do that.
I totally acknowledge that had I been in McCreight's place there probably WOULD have been a moment of "ew, gross" when I saw this homeless man and registered what he was doing. I'd also probably have got the hell out of there in a hurry. But I'd like to think of myself that once the initial shock had subsided I'd have felt at least a little concern for this man, for his safety and well-being. If I witnessed a homeless person shrieking in conversation with himself at the top of his voice, or engaging in self-harm, or doing anything else that most mentally-healthy people do not do in public, I would have felt uncomfortable and probably scared... but I would also have felt compassion.
Why does this not apply because the particular eccentric behaviour this man was displaying happened to be sexual in nature?
Then I saw this tweet:
...and suddenly I got it. The reason McCreight expressed no sympathy or concern for the homeless man is that, in her world, everything anyone does within the scope of her perception is about her.
Seriously, is there any other conclusion we can draw from this? Never mind everything else that ought to strike us as strange and concerning about what the homeless man was doing; the point so far as McCreight was concerned is that he didn't ask her permission to do it (never mind the question of how he was supposed to know or care who the hell she was OR that she was going to walk past).
Apparently I wasn't the only one struck by the total lack of empathy McCreight showed for this man, because shortly after the above she tweeted this:
When I first saw this one I sincerely thought - hoped! - it was a joke, but I'm forced to the conclusion that she was serious; another example of quite epic self-centredness. Never mind the details of what anybody said, never mind the validity of their points about her total want of compassion (which, you will notice, are not actually refuted in that tweet); the people expressing concern for the homeless man's well-being are uncaring, insincere haters just looking for an excuse to get at McCreight.
Quite apart from all else that's breath-takingly irrational and presumptuous in that statement, who exactly is promoting a "Male-Sexuality-Trumps-Everything agenda"? What IS a "Male-Sexuality-Trumps-Everything agenda"? If we take the words at face value, what McCreight is saying here is that anyone who feels concern for homeless people or those with mental illness thinks rape is acceptable. That's jingoism worthy of Richard Carrier, it's hilarious.
The attitudes of people in the Atheism Plus movement have puzzled me for some time; as I have commented elsewhere, I am neither vain nor self-loathing enough to assume that the only interest a man could feel for me is sexual, for example. Neither am I sufficiently scared of men that I feel the need to consider them all misogynists - and, these days, potential rapists - until they prove otherwise (if such a thing were actually possible) by my very specific criteria. Nor do I understand a mentality that by default brands all dissent and disagreement (and even questions!) as abuse from either misogynists or sister-punishers. Most of all, I don't understand how a group that was supposedly set up to support marginalised groups in the atheist "movement" can produce little more than self-righteous whinging from wealthy, educated, middle-class white women living in democracies about how no one understands how hard it is to be them.
Next time you visit the A+ website, keep the words "it's all about meeeee!" in mind. You'll probably find it's all a lot more comprehensible... although if anything even less palatable.
Edit: I am told that some people on Twitter have been mocking Jen McCreight for having said that she is experiencing depression. Not cool, people. You don't make a joke of mental illness, and you don't get to tell her she's lacking in compassion if you then behave like that. Out of order.