Archive for the 'Outrage of the Week' category

Sexxay Inequality

Here's why that Business Insider article is a putrid festering load of bullcrap nobody needs or wants:

As I've previously blogged, Ruth Oldenziel (in Making Technology Masculine) told us how and why women who love technology require an explanation, but men who love technology are just being masculine.  She's the first! She's unusual! She's an exception! But she still makes cupcakes! Or looks hawt!

And as I blogged so many years ago the link will take forever to load from an ancient blogging platform, there's a difference when dudes go beefcake on a pinup calendar versus women scientists doing cheesy cheescake pinups to "encourage" young girls in science, however the hell that mechanism is supposed to work:

What's the difference between the Flame Calendar and the IT Screen Goddess calendar?  

  • Beefy lad with long hose = Very, very macho man = Very competent firefighter
  • Nekkid lady with rose petals = Male erection = Yeah baby, I'll give IT to you all night long

And that asymmetry, my children, is patriarchy in action.  And that's why posing for fancy whore calendars is not and will never be a positive step for women in science and engineering, at least until the revolution comes.

And that, in a nutshell, is it: Business Insider Sexy Scientists adds cache to any dude scientists on the list (wow, he's an awesome scientist! and also hawt!) while stripping away the women's integrity and worth, reducing them to sex objects (okay, let's look at these babes and see if they're really all that and would I want to hit that.) It doesn't matter if you make your Sexxay Hawt Scientists list a rainbow of diversity, and gender balanced. Sexifying scientists does not and cannot function equally for men and women.

Any enterprise that aims to cash in on tropes of female sexxay hawtness as a way of "promoting" science is doomed from the start. Men can be anything and also be sexxay as one of many attributes. Women are supposed to be sexxay objects, first and foremost as their entire being. Even when they are doing something else. Like science. Singling out a subset of women to be labeled Extra Hawt & Sciency Too! is hideously damaging, insulting, and - say it with me - puke-worthy.

How many times, for how many years, will I have to write this post? I know. Forever.

12 responses so far

No Modesty Left At All

People keep saying the dead-tree format is over and done with but you can still learn so much from reading the newspaper.  Take for example this (for once) sensible editorial I chanced upon yesterday in the radical left-leaning Philadelphia Inquirer.  If you are "poor", ask yourself:  WWJD?  Be prepared to shape up in a hurry because He'd tell you something like this:

Our Lord Jesus: Are you a tween working 60 hours a week sticking things on pots while rats gnaw at you, just so you can get your dad out of debtor's prison?  No?  What you are is lounging about in your air-conditioned paradise with your cable tv, maybe even going to the public library and using the computer to get on the Internet there, and you're whinging away because you're "hungry".  If you're so hungry, why are you so fat?  Riddle me that one, Batman!  Your school (though I wouldn't let my kids go there) is free (for now, till we institute the voucher system) and your government pays for "much" of the tab of state and community colleges (if by "much" we include "ever decreasing amounts").  Why are you so dumb?  You can be as "poor" as you want and we won't even put you in debtor's prison!


You see, being poor used to be about really suffering in a hideous manner unto death. If the impoverished people are fat, have cars, and aren't in jail, the system is working pretty good for them.  But give the "poor" a little and they still aren't satisfied.  It's not enough to be a wage slave in a rat-free environment.**  They want equal opportunities, too!  But the whole point of success is to give your children unusually good opportunities. But no, the "poor" want to make it about the size of the gap, claiming that if the rich get richer, the poor should too.  That's just crazy talk!

Myself, I say it's time we solved this "poverty" problem, such as it is, once and for all.  Modesty will not serve; let us be bold in our proposals.  What few poor we do have should be fed an all organic, no hormones or antibiotics diet for three months to cleanse their systems, then humanely slaughtered on-site in old style, non-industrial abattoirs. We should not limit ourselves to just the more obvious, meatier cuts but strive for a whole human, nose to foot approach.  Many parts of the poor will pair well with a good pinot noir, and there is nothing like poor heart - tender, amazing, not funky like liver, and poor trotters make great tacos.  Even if it weren't respectful to the poor to practice nose-to-foot eating, the ecological benefits alone make it a wise choice for the environmentally conscious eater -- feeding multiple mouths with one whole animal and all its edible parts is much more efficient and less tolling on our environment than processing multiple animals to feed only a few mouths, which is what we do when limiting ourselves to eating only a single part.  You know, like chicken nuggets.  Which I hear, make the "poor" so fat, but also our wallets, so what are you going to do.


**Well, I did hear today about a transport authority worker stuck in a booth all day who has to dodge rats running around his feet so, technically, I guess we haven't quite achieved "wage slave in a rat-free environment" yet.  So close!

10 responses so far

"The Same and Not the Same"

Jul 09 2010 Published by under Burns My Shorts, Outrage of the Week

"The Same and Not the Same" is the title of a fantastic book by Nobel Prize winning chemist Roald Hoffman. It's a great place to get a hearty dose of science + culture. Part Eight of the book is titled "Value, Harm, and Democracy" and has all sorts of interesting stuff in it on chemistry and industry, environmental concerns, chemistry, education & democracy. It does not have a section on what to do when you are running a media empire and your advertisers want you to censor your writers because they are still feeling a bit touchy over that whole messy Bhopal business, but you can't cover everything in one book.
I have been extremely sad the past few days as I watch the Seed/ScienceBlogs Pepsigeddon nightmare unfold before me. Being part of ScienceBlogs has been extremely important to me, and something I've always been proud to claim affiliation with.
In my last post, I sought to draw an analogy between what I thought I saw happening with the now defunct, ill-fated PepsiCo blogvertorial at ScienceBlogs, and the previous struggles Ms. went through in the days it accepted advertising. Feminism and science are uneasy bedfellows at best, but they have this in common: most citizens are ignorant or ill-informed at best about them; are subjected to vast amounts of dis- and mis-information through highly effective marketing and propaganda machines that are better funded that the authoritative sources; and don't always know where to go look when they do decide they want some reliable information on the topic. In addition, they are not the kinds of topics that advertisers flock to in droves. So funding a witty, attractive, meaningful, public-serving, truth-telling enterprise devoted to either subject is a daunting enterprise.
That's what's the same.
Here's what's not the same between the editors of Ms. and whatever passes for editorial ethics and guidance at Seed:
Ms., in 1990, at the time of going advertising free:

It's been almost three years away from life between the grindstones of advertising pressures and readers' needs. I'm just beginning to realize how edges got smoothed down--in spite of all our resistance. I remember feeling put upon when I changed "Porsche" to "car" in a piece about Nazi imagery in German pornography by Andrea Dworkin--feeling sure Andrea would understand that Volkswagen, the distributor of Porsche and one of our few supportive advertisers, asked only to be far away from Nazi subjects. It's taken me all this time to realize the Andrea was the one with a right to feel put upon. Even as I write this, I get a call from a writer of Elle, who is doing a whole article on where women part their hair. Why, she wants to know, do I part mine in the middle? It's all so familiar. A writer trying to make something of a nothing assignment; an editor laboring to think of new ways to attract ads: readers assuming that other women must want this ridiculous stuff; more women suffering from lack of information, insight, creativity, and laughter that could be on the these same pages.
I ask you: Can't we do better than this?

Seed editor, 2010, as quoted in Guardian article:

We're not running the bhopal piece, and we're passing on the Maldive shark ban (a bit late now... Too bad it got caught up in prod week... ). As for Bhopal, it's a cautionary call on our part as we're in the midst of advertising negotiations with Dow (who have been inspired by Seed's photography in their own brand campaigns). RE: the payment, as you're on a scheduled direct-payment, the bhopal fee covers the Kerry/Carbon trading news piece fee that was outstanding. Let me know if that's clear.

It's clear that twenty years later, we really can't do any better. We're not just agonizing over toning down a word choice, we're killing whole articles so that Dow doesn't get its fee-fees hurt over that whole regrettable Bhopal thingy. Not because we already have an advertiser we don't want to lose, but one we hope to gain. We're shutting our mouths before anyone has even asked us to.
Read that Ms. editorial, and see what they went through, what their willingness to speak out cost them in terms of advertising dollars, the contortions they went through to hang on to the few advertisers they were able to coax to the table. Adam Bly, you really couldn't have tried even half as hard as Gloria Steinem? Really?
Zuskateers, I believe this is my last straw. I'm leaving tomorrow for a week with Z-Mom, and there is supposed to be a conference call this week that will mollify all my concerns. I am ruminating, and will make an announcement when I am back from time with mom about my plans for the future.
UPDATE: response here and comments that follow.

17 responses so far

Let Them Eat...Fresh Meals For Pets!

I was making a quick jog through the local supermarket the other night, seeking out cough drops and a few other things for a sad soul at home with the croup, when I rounded a corner and came upon this fresh new vision from hell:
And here I am wasting my extra cash on donations to food pantries for hungry humans in the greater Delaware Valley area. You, poor sap, may be throwing away cash on stupid causes like earthquake relief in Haiti, or trying to save birds from extinction. Let's just all live it up and make sure Fido has a nice Fresh Meal. Maybe we could give the leftovers to the hungry in Philly, or send them off carefully wrapped up to the Haitians. I don't think they'd fit well in a bird feeder.

29 responses so far

Let Them Eat...Whatever's In These Dented Cans From The Back Of My Pantry

Feb 15 2010 Published by under Outrage of the Week, That's So Class-y

Don't you just love food palaces? Round these parts in Philly, we have several new Wegmans stores to choose from, and of course Whole Foods. A new Whole Foods opened not far from where I live that includes a little bar - you can have a beer or glass of wine and a little something to eat if you find the experience of shopping for your whole foods wholly exhausting and need to partake of serious refreshment. The big chain grocery stores have even stepped up their games to stay in competition. In downtown Philly, there is Di Bruno Brothers, a gourmand's shopping paradise, not to mention Reading Terminal Market, the Italian Market, and who knows how many other little gourmet shops throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding environs.
When you're pushing a cart around at, say, Wegmans - or any other food palace - loading up the goodies, and finally wheeling your way to the checkout, you probably aren't thinking to yourself, "where do those employees shop for their food?" At least one Wegmans employee in this area, it turns out, shops at a local food bank.
The food bank in question, The Lord's Pantry in Downingtown, has won honors and praise for its operation. Unlike many pantries that just hand people a bag of food, people who come to the Lord's Pantry can come in, look around, shop and choose what they need and want. It is a place with dignity. And they help people figure out what other benefits and assistance they might be eligible for, and how to apply for it. Here's some frightening data from the article:

In 2006, the Lord's Pantry served just 1,200 people; in 2009, 15,336. Last month, an all-time high of 60 families showed up on a single day. To be eligible, a family of four can earn up to $33,075 a year, individuals $16,245.

It should be noted that the food pantry is located in a upscale community where the median income is $82,979.
The day after this article appeared in my paper, another ran explaining how anger against the poor was on the rise, and how the percentage of people who think the poor have become "too dependent" on government assistance has increased from 69% to 72% in the last few years. This has happened, mind you, at the same time that my state legislature is cutting aid to the poorest elderly and disabled.

A previously undisclosed detail of Pennsylvania's brutal budget deal calls for slashing the state's already modest $27 to $42 monthly SSI supplement by 20 percent to 25 percent. Individuals will lose $5 a month, couples $10.

How much does it cost to take paratransit to a grocery store, to buy the groceries you can't afford? Why, $10. Please remember these cuts are being proposed for people who are getting about $600 a month. I invite you to make out your monthly budget with that figure. No, wait, make that $590. Because we do not want you becoming too dependent upon government assistance.
I know in these past few weeks that everyone has been emptying their pocketbooks for the disaster in Haiti and surely the need is great there. It is great to see the outpouring of support and sympathy. Hopefully we can channel a little of that love and sympathy for the needy right next door - sometimes literally - too, and stop blaming them for their need. A lot of those people using The Lord's Pantry in Downingtown used to donate to it not so long ago.
I like to give to Philabundance. I like that their vision of hunger relief includes fresh produce and dignity, not dented expired mystery cans from the back of someone's pantry. I am grateful I have some extra to share.

And yet even the have-nots recognize that others may be worse off.
"If we're having a good month, I don't come," Borden says. "I leave it for someone else who needs it."

If only the "haves" in the state legislature had half as much empathy and sense.

12 responses so far

What's With The Makeovers?

You are a male physics professor, and you want to improve science education. What could possibly be a better idea than to team up with a bunch of professional cheerleaders and make a video of them shouting out science tidbits while they shake their pompoms? Science cheerleaders!
I know, right? You wish you'd thought of it first, don't you?

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20 responses so far

Following Isis's Lead...

While I've been away from the blogiverse, it appears that you've had the misfortune to be treated to all manner of disgusting ads popping up here at ScienceBlogs. Mail Order Brides, Naughty Singles, and I don't know what all else. Isis has some details here. She says:

...if you've been visiting me for any length of time then you know how I feel about the exploitation of women, especially racial minorities and women from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. That's the entire point of the Letters to Our Daughters Project and the Silence is the Enemy Project, right?
That said, I cannot in good faith continue to contribute content here while these ads remain visible. This also makes me sad because I love being at ScienceBlogs. I love my Sciblings (well, most of them) and I believe in the establishment of community for the promotion of science. But, it would not be right for my page views to generate revenue that funds individuals who exploit women. The morality in this matter seems pretty black and white.
I believe the management here at ScienceBlogs when they tell me that they are working to have their ad agency remove the ads, but the traffic generated in the meantime while those ads still appear still puts money in the pockets of those who exploit women. So, until I receive confirmation from the Overlords here at ScienceBlogs that these ads are gone, I'm taking a hiatus.

Well said. Can't think of a thing to add at this point. I'll be back when the ads are gone. In the meantime, I sincerely apologize to those of you who have been offended by the ads, and I hope that someday you'll receive an apology from ScienceBlogs, too.

14 responses so far

Nothing's Too Good For My Precious Pooch, or, Why Our Planet Is Dying

This past Friday morning, as per my usual routine, I sat down to read the Philadelphia Inquirer with my coffee and breakfast. And I came across an article that nearly made me vomit back all that delicious Toy Cow Farms blueberry yoghurt I had just spooned down. I refer, of course, to the piece on the "quaint Victorian home" shared by Darla, Chelsea, and Coco Puff.

Their dwelling has a cedar-shake roof, vaulted ceilings, and hardwood floors, heating and air-conditioning, moldings and casement windows, drapery with valences, and fanciful wallpapers.
At Christmas, music from the RCA Victor radio carried outside to a grassy yard surrounded by a white picket fence. A sign on the porch reads: "Three spoiled dogs live here."

Yes. Darla, Chelsea, and Coco Puff are dogs. They live in a home that cost "$20,000 in construction, transport, and equipment, if [you include] the painting, landscaping, screened doors and windows, miniblinds, and ceiling fans, as well as the yard with artificial turf." (Do follow the link and check out the photo.)

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21 responses so far

Locking the Barn Door

Aug 14 2008 Published by under Outrage of the Week, Sex Offenders, Sexual Harassment

You are a university president. You naturally wish to avoid scandal and negative publicity during your administration. The time to make it mandatory for all faculty and staff to undergo training in how to avoid sexual harassment is:
A: When you take office, or shortly thereafter.
B: After one of your professors is caught emailing female students a quid pro quo: A's if they would expose their breasts and allow him to fondle them.
If you are University of Iowa president Sally Mason, you will, of course, pick option B.
If this is only the first time the esteemed Professor Miller has engaged in such shenanigans, I will eat his shoes rather than puke on them. I'm betting it's not.
Meanwhile, over at the University of Missouri,

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21 responses so far

The Bimbo Game

Rarely, it happens that I am left speechless.

6 responses so far

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