Archive for the 'Gratuitous Sexism' category

A Note to Tim Hunt (and other self-satisfied "chauvinists")

Let me tell you about my trouble with boys.

Three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in love with science, they sexually harass you, and when you criticize them, they cry! (And issue rape and death threats.)

I don't want to stand in the way of men. I'm a feminist - keep sexist asshats 'single' labs.

Separate but equal labs with no funding or prestigious awards for the sexist asshats, and real labs for the rest of humanity is the way to go!

These are light-hearted, ironic comments. I cannot help it if my audience interprets them as deadly serious.

I do mean the part about having trouble with boys. It's true I have fallen in love with science and that boys in the lab have sexually harassed me. It's very disruptive to science, because it's terribly important in the lab that people are on a level playing field, and I've found that these emotional entanglements have made life difficult. Not to say dangerous, at times.

I'm really sorry that I caused any offense, that's awful. I just meant to be honest, actually.

h/t @virginiahughes for alerting me to this latest outbreak of Nobelinania. Look out Jim Watson, you've got competition!

4 responses so far

Quick, Who's A Geek?

Not you, I bet! Unless you're a dude, that is. I know this for sure because just this morning I came across a helpful new tome, The Geek's Guide to Dating, written for dudes who want to get girls.

You keep your action figures in their original packaging. Your closets are full of officially licensed Star Wars merchandise. You’re hooked on Elder Scrolls and Metal Gear but now you’ve discovered an even bigger obsession: the new girl who just moved in down the hall.

What’s a geek to do? Take some tips from The Geek’s Guide to Dating. This hilarious primer is jam-packed with cheat codes, walkthroughs, and power-ups for navigating the perils and pitfalls of your love life with ease. Geeks of all ages will find answers to the ultimate questions of life, the universe, and everything romantic, from First Contact to The Fellowship of the Ring and beyond. Full of whimsical 8-bit illustrations, The Geek’s Guide to Dating will teach fanboys everywhere to love long and prosper.

It would have been out of the question, of course to have written the above thus:

You keep your action figures in their original packaging. Your closets are full of officially licensed Star Wars merchandise. You’re hooked on Elder Scrolls and Metal Gear but now you’ve discovered an even bigger obsession: the new girl Person of Interestwho just moved in down the hall.

What’s a geek to do? Take some tips from The Geek’s Guide to Dating. This hilarious primer is jam-packed with cheat codes, walkthroughs, and power-ups for navigating the perils and pitfalls of your love life with ease. Geeks of all ages types will find answers to the ultimate questions of life, the universe, and everything romantic, from First Contact to The Fellowship of the Ring and beyond. Full of whimsical 8-bit illustrations, The Geek’s Guide to Dating will teach fanboys cosplayers everywhere to love long and prosper.

Out of the question, of course, because then how the hell would you have written the book to go with that? It is geeks, who are dudes, white dudes to be specific, who need help with mating, and it is girls, who may or may not be geeks, who cares, who are out there waiting to be properly mated. Always this way. Dudes, seeking and finding girls, like a precious grail quest. Too bad if you are a geek girl who would like some dating tips on sorting dudes from duds. Or a geek dude who fancies other geek dudes. Or likewise a geek girl whose heart beats faster for other geek girls. No book for you!

The book authors were on this morning's Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane. I hasten to add that they declared, many times, while talking about the book and answering questions, that geek is not an identity owned solely by dudes, that anyone can be a geek, that geek culture has broad meanings and shapes, that it is welcoming to all, and that the openness and welcoming to all is part of what makes geek culture so great.  The irony of having written a book that takes as its unacknowledged knowledge-we-all-share that geeks are dudes completely escaped them. It also seemed to have gone right by Moss-Coane, for the usually quite sharp host did not remark upon this at all.

Why does it take so much help to be a dude? Some years back there was The Dangerous Book for Boys, because boys were in danger of growing up as namby-pamby nancy boys who wouldn't know a penknife if a Real Boy jammed it in their thigh. The Dangerous Book for Girls was promptly produced as an antidote (and for more book sales). Now Real Geekness needs shored up a little with an Actually Real Geeks ARE Men Even Though We As A Community Say We Are Totally Welcoming To All dating manual.

Oh come on, it's all a bit of light-hearted good fun, can't you relax and laugh a little, you feminists have no sense of humor! We even put in a Note To Girl Geeks (see page 19)! Where we said this book is for dudes but if you try hard you can see yourself in it! Except facial hair! If you're so bothered by it, why don't you write your own Geek Girl's Guide to Dating?

Would a Geek Girl's Guide to Dating be of any help? (1) No. (2) No. (3) No. It doesn't address compulsory heterosexuality in geek culture. It doesn't solve the problem of Real Geeks Are Men, But There Are Some She-Geek Oddities As Well. It doesn't address the problem of a book that stakes the claim of a single very specific identity as the center of the universe and equivalent to the community identity. The book is more accurately called The White Geek Dude's Guide to Dating. The following phrases are crutches used to walk away from that: "well, we really do welcome everyone; you should just write your own book" and "some women think it's funny" and "just try to picture yourself in it" and "there aren't that many gay geeks, I never met any" and "if we had to take all that into account,  it wouldn't be funny anymore".

Ah yes. If you had to take everyone else's perspective into account in writing your book, then 95% of the jokes in it wouldn't be funny, would they? Because the funny is based on the unacknowledged knowledge that Real Geeks Are Dudes. Where's the funny in having to admit that Real Geeks Are Men is just a bit of bad cosplay, and that the costume is wearing mighty thin, eh? No book for you.

One response so far

Easy-Peasy Reproduction of Gender & Race Norms!

Somewhere in the Twitterz a link popped up to this slideshow presentation:

Academia to Entrepreneur: How and Why to Leave Academia

It's a decent enough slide presentation and you'll learn a little about Mendeley along the way. Near the end there's a slide titled "Engineers" with 9 pictures variously titled "What my friends think I do", "What my parents think I do" etc.  You are supposed to enjoy the hilariosity of each group's total misconception of who engineers are and what they really do.

Let's ask who the "I" of the photo captions is.  Is this slide addressed to you at all? Depends upon who you are.  If you are a white male, the answer is yes! In the first photo, we see that what your friends think you are doing is sitting around on a couch gaming - you, a white male, and all your white male buddies. In the "What my parents think I do" photo at least there is one female, with three male figures, all white, looking at construction plans.

The fourth photo is of a young, slightly overweight white boy wearing glasses, non-fashionable clothing, and sitting in front of a computer.  The caption reads "What girls think I do."   Engineers are boys, and they're white boys, too. There is no corresponding picture for "What boys think I do".  There is, however, one for "What kids think I do."  So you can be a kid wondering what the grown-up (white male) engineer does, or you can be a girl wondering what the (white) boy does, but you can't be a boy wondering what the girl (of any color) does because that would be...

Well that would just upset our gender norms. And consequently wouldn't seem funny to most of us.  The "what girls think I do" is funny only if you accept the premise that the speaker is, indeed must be, a white male who can't get a girlfriend. The girls he cannot attract would, of course not be engineers.

In the last photo we see "What I really do":  a grown up white man, sitting in front of a computer.  This is so non-inclusive, and so non-representative of the multitude of things engineers do, that it makes me want to cry.  This one slide, with very few words but very strong images, hammers home the tired old gender and race stereotype of the engineer as a lonely white male in front of a computer.  It's not funny, it's sad and wrong. No one should ever use this visual again, except as an illustration of how easy-peasy it is to do gender and race norming without even trying.  I'm fairly certain that wasn't the intent of the person who put this slideshow together, but it is indeed the unfortunate outcome.

The only non-white person that appears in this slideshow is a floating head shot of Aretha Franklin in a slide making a point about respect. She is used more or less as an icon or signifier of the word respect, and has no relation to what engineers or scientists do. This use, combined with the total exclusion of people of color from the imagery of who engineers are, makes me unhappy.

It takes an effort to be inclusive, but it is an effort every speaker should make. If you aren't sure that your speech or presentation is free of unintentional bias, ask someone you trust to review it for you to be sure - especially when illustrations or pictures are included, but for language too.  Or I may have to come puke on your shoes.  I can understand that people may not see the bias themselves, but by now we all should be aware that it could be there. We all have a responsibility to try, to educate ourselves so we become more aware, and to ask for help before we send our words and chosen images out into the world. Don't be part of the (lazy-ass) easy-peasy bias reproduction machine!

5 responses so far

Yogurt: It's a Woman Thing

[View the story "Yogurt: It's a Woman Thing, You Wouldn't Understand" on Storify]

Yogurt: It's a Woman Thing, You Wouldn't Understand

Storified by · Sun, Sep 09 2012 20:00:14

At 10:34 am on 9 Sept 2012, @Scicurious tweeted (really sorry, I can't figure out how to embed this tweet):

"Open letter to commercials targeting women: So true. I express my own uniqueness through feminine care products."

(The bolding is mine.)
You must go read that article NOW!
@GertyZ tweeted the same article and also replied to @Scicurious
Haha! But true. MT"@GertyZ: Open Letters: Open Letter 2 the People in Charge of Commercials Targeting Women. http://zite.to/PORwow via @Zite"TSZuska
@scicurious doesn't everyone? BRING ON THE MINIVANGerty-Z
And we were all off and running!
@scicurious but the poor guys who keep getting rejected from the yogurt aisle? So sad!biochem belle
@scicurious enjoy it now. Someday, menopause. Then: no uniqueness, no femininity. Unless you eat yogurt.TSZuska
@scicurious Although those yogurt-eaters always look awfully young. I thing all that's left post-menopause is bone loss & hot flash meds.TSZuska
@TSZuska And wrinkle cream! LOTS of expensive wrinkle cream.sci curious
@scicurious Indian commercials include vaginal tightening creams, vaginal fairness & well, regular fairness creams. http://youtu.be/vPayFrCOiZMManasi Jiwrajka
Well now, that's something to look into! I am certain I have not been nearly worried enough about my vaginal fairness.
@TSZuska @scicurious @kateclancy perhaps you've missed news that Poise has developed a whole line of menopause-related products #innovative?Lisa Hinchliffe
Depressingly, there will come the day when we all need something like a Poise pad, or worse. #oldagesucks But I am seriously not going to worry about "feeling confident" in my bladder leakage years with panty fresheners and feminine wash. There will be no equivalent of an Air Wick Stick-Up on the bottom of my pantaloons.

Let's change the subject.

@TSZuska I really pity all the guys who, according to the commercials, don't eat yogurt. That stuff is great!sci curious
@biochembelle @scicurious I'm starting a Men Can Eat My Yogurt support group. There's an entry requirement for each straight man.TSZuska
@TSZuska @biochembelle Is it like a hazing process for men who want to eat yogurt? Like they have to eat plain?sci curious
@scicurious @TSZuska Or require them to distinguish regular vs Greek, nonfat vs full fat by blind taste test?biochem belle
@biochembelle @scicurious Well I was thinking of making them prove they'd eaten something else, but that's good, too.TSZuska
@scicurious @TSZuska Though the dude from Burn Notice is apparently the only man who isn't stripped of his masculinity by eating yogurt.Kate Clancy
@KateClancy @scicurious @TSZuska and John Stamos. He's in a yogurt commercial. Greek yogurt. Manly yogurt. :DRadium Yttrium
@KateClancy @scicurious Always an exception here & there. Most men don't have the biological necessities to digest yogurt. #EvolutionTSZuska
@TSZuska @KateClancy @scicurious I've heard that they've got ways of shutting all of that down, though.Emily Willingham
@ejwillingham @KateClancy @scicurious If legitimately forced to eat yogurt, no gaseous bloating will result. It's a known scientific fact.TSZuska
@DrRubidium @SciTriGrrl @KateClancy @TSZuska You mean greek yogurt is MANLY?! I've been eating MANLY yogurt! HORRORZ.sci curious
@DrRubidium @KateClancy @scicurious @TSZuska but John stamos isn't eating the yoghurt, it's just who appears when women eat yoghurtNatC
You are safe, @Scicurious.  Still appropriately feminine!
@SciTriGrrl @KateClancy @scicurious @TSZuska I do remember him eating some, but he was also feeding a woman, which is just creepyRadium Yttrium
@DrRubidium @KateClancy @scicurious @TSZuska clearly I'm not paying sufficient attention to ads aimed at me. Whoops!NatC
AARGH! RT @scicurious: @DrRubidium @SciTriGrrl @KateClancy @TSZuska You mean greek yogurt is MANLY?! I've been eating MANLY yogurt! HORRORZ.NatC
Or......not.  That manly yogurt may have some biological effects on gendered behavior.
@scicurious @SciTriGrrl @KateClancy @TSZuska yes, I eat it and then start random street fights :DRadium Yttrium
@DrRubidium @SciTriGrrl @TSZuska @scicurious I eat it before roller derby bouts for MOAR TESTOSTERONE.Kate Clancy
And now, a semi-serious tweet...
@TSZuska @biochembelle @scicurious @Mom101 wrote a post about it. If memory is correct, the adverts we want don't do well in focus groupsScientistMother
@ScientistMother @biochembelle @scicurious @Mom101 i have been in focus groups. Ppl r anxious 2 get out & get their $$; herd mentality...TSZuska
@ScientistMother @biochembelle @scicurious @Mom101 one or 2 strong voices, everyone follows them. Drink coffee, get done, get cash.TSZuska
This, among other reasons, is why we have such crap-ass commercials.  This, and the undying belief that patriarchy sells. Because #evolution!
@TSZuska @biochembelle @scicurious perhaps @Mom101 could provide more info. She's pretty awesome about getting change in advertisingScientistMother
@scicurious @ScientistMother @TSZuska @biochembelle Oddly, that's the first McS essay where I've ever felt, "Seen it."Liz Gumbinner
@Mom101 @scicurious @TSZuska @biochembelle seen it bc others have said it before?ScientistMother
Sigh. Sometimes I get the feeling it's all been said before, a thousand million times.  Still, we have to say it again and again, and laugh a little along the way. 

3 responses so far

Pinkification: Robbing Girls of Self Worth

Sharon Astyk at Casaubon's Book has a post that is both a review of Peggy Orenstein's Cinderella Ate My Daughter and an insightful analysis of pinkification's effect on young girls, especially girls in the foster care system. You MUST read it. Here's an excerpt:

I have a theory about the pinkization myself.  Femininity used to be commodified by giving children the cultural markers of feminine WORK – little girls got toy kitchens, baby dolls, toy brooms, toy houses.  Domestic labor was what marked out womanhood.  This definitely sucked in some ways, if instead of the erector set you got a toy wash basin, and you really wanted the erector set, but the cool thing about it was that you told little girls that in some measure they were being defined by their competence.  Yes, it was a limited sphere.  No, the “you can’t have an erector set because you are a girl” is wrong.  But in trying to end the “the only work you can do is girl work” we replaced it with “girls don’t do anything different, so you have to define yourself in other measures – by how you look and what color you wear.”

Whoa.  I think she's on to something there. Remember that god-awful girls-n-pink-n-dazzle!-n-science video disaster?  The ladies in the video weren't doing any science.  But they were lookin' mighty good.

Read the post, the whole post, it is full of awesome.

4 responses so far

When They Read The News, What Are They Telling Us?

I'm feeling my Olympic groove this evening, when here comes a commercial break blurb for the local newscast. They're promising me all sorts of wonderfully lurid stuff if I tune in later. Here's one exciting pitch:

This man's wife and baby were held up at gun point!...Details later...

There is a very, very quick shot of a man, and then we see the woman with her baby telling us "He had a gun and he told me 'don't make me do this, you have a baby with you'."

Here's my question:  Why "this man's wife and baby" and not "this woman and her baby"? In reporting crime against women, must we do it so as to make clear who owns them, in favor of that the crime was against them?  When we say "this man's wife and baby were held up at gunpoint" we are implying that the crime, although committed on the woman and baby, was against the man.

There's no excuse for locution like this.  News writers/readers, women are their own agents. You don't need to identify their closest male in order to report news on them.

6 responses so far

This Just In: Scientists Discover True Nature of Feminists!

Jun. 17, 2010 3:34 AM ET
SB COMMUNITY DEEMS FEMINISTS IRRELEVANT NOBODY MEAN GIRLS, OMNIPOTENT PRIVILEGED HELLIONS
Douchey McDoucherson, ScienceBlogs Writers
ANYWHERE (SB)
Just days after a remarkable dustup in the science blogosphere, ScienceBlogs community members gathered to render judgment on feminist science bloggers.

Continue Reading »

41 responses so far

If The Force Actually Existed...

Apr 28 2010 Published by under Daily Struggles, Gratuitous Sexism

A reader sent me a link to this d00dly graph, What The Force Would Be Used For If It Actually Existed. If you don't want to bother to click through, the answer is: greater than 50%, pulling the remote to you because it is too far away; insignificant percentage, actually making a difference in the universe; all the remaining percentage, persuading women to undress. Wait, I can't keep typing because I'm laughing so, so much. Oh, those clever d00ds.
My correspondent wrote:
This is rather disturbing if you think about it. Using coercion to "persuade" a woman to undress: shades of rape culture?
Hey, that is totally what the force is for!
Well, clearly, the implied viewing audience for the graph, and putative possessors of the force, are heterosexual males*. That's dominant patriarchal discourse for you.
If the force actually existed, I'd devote 95% of my usage (the other 5% is for retrieving my glasses from wherever I last set them down) to persuading mansplainers to stop talking and listen for a change. I'm not sure if the force is that strong, though. But it would be good times, AND count as actually making a difference in the universe!
*the kind, no doubt, who can take a joke. Unlike hairy-legged feminazis, who have no sense of humor.

32 responses so far

Smile, Boys! It Would Make The World So Much Prettier For Us Women!

The other day, a male friend of mine was at the grocery store in the check out line. He was not feeling particularly happy, and, I guess, was frowning a little. A dude in line behind him tapped him on his shoulder to get his attention and when he turned around, the dude said, in a bright voice, "You dropped something," and was pointing to the floor. My male friend looked down and said, "I don't see anything." The dude then told him, "You dropped your smile." My male friend was not amused. He turned around going back to his business saying, "Oh, OK." The man proceeded to walk away mumbling, "Don't look so serious. It's only the grocery store."
That doesn't sound right, does it?
No, because it really happened to a woman. There, that feels more...normal, doesn't it?
Isis got a letter from a PhD student who was told in a teaching evaluation that she needs to smile more. Isis gave her some excellent advice but I want to address this whole "needs to smile more" issue from a different angle.

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138 responses so far

You Femsplainers Just See Sexism Everywhere

Over at the mansplaining thread, you can read literally hundreds of hilarious, annoying, frustrating, heartbreaking stories of how women are constantly subjected to intrusive, incessant, insensitive, inane mansplaining. Interspersed you will also find comments from d00dly d00ds whinging away about how awful it is that women are talking so MEAN about men, and their mansplanations about how mansplaining doesn't exist. Then some douche tried to coin the phrase femsplaining.
Femsplaining, as best I can tell, is a phenomenon that arises in the following manner:

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168 responses so far

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