Dear Muslima

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"Dear Muslima" is the opening phrase of an infamous comment Richard Dawkins made on the Pharyngula blog attacking Rebecca Watson for raising the issue which became known as Elevatorgate. The comment is framed as a letter, ostensibly representing Watson's position, to a Muslim woman – presumably Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has talked extensively about the treatment of women in Muslim-dominated countries.

The comment essentially serves as a sarcastic dismissal of Watson's concerns as being trivial compared to Ali's. This is a classic case of appeal to worse problems, as well as straw manning Watson's argument by representing her as being dismissive ("For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin!") of Ali's concerns, which she was not. (Watson never even raised the issue of Muslim misogyny, so Dawkins is also changing the subject.)

The complete text of the comment, as preserved by PZ Myers, is:

Dear Muslima

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and . . . yawn . . . don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.

Only this week I heard of one, 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 . . .

And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.


Dawkins then went on, in a later comment (also preserved in the post linked above), to claim that Watkins had in fact suffered no harm at all, when this wasn't even the main point of Watson's video. Her comments in the video were about the ongoing problem of sexist behavior and microaggression which, over multiple incidents, clearly does cause harm.



  • 2015/04/03 [L..T] Fatwah envy, again "Both of these people are committing a kind of rhetorical extortion, using the threat of murder elsewhere as a club to silence those who strive for respect and dignity in their lives. And in that sense both Ali and Cotton are happily exploiting atrocities to justify continued injustices."