I need to finish a post on negotiating my tenure-track faculty position. I promised it a week ago, but just haven’t had time to finish it. I’ve had a nasty cold for nearly two weeks, courtesy of Monkey’s daycare, and it’s been all I could do to catch up on missed work. I really want to write about how much the people at daycare pissed me off this morning when they implied poor mothering skills because I hadn’t taken Monkey to the doctor to get antibiotics. Because I work in this field a bit and know what antibiotic overuse does, emkay? And no, green snot does not indicate the need for antibiotics.
Instead, what I find myself wanting, no… needing to
vent write about is the sexist brouhaha that’s been brewing over at Nature. I read this stinkin’ Futures piece called “Womanspace” last week when DrugMonkey referred me over. At the time I was sitting in my recliner wearing sweats and fuzzy socks, surrounded by snotty tissues, exhausted from a mere 6-hour day in the lab, and gratefully entering a Nyquil-induced haze. Extremely annoyed about wasting what little brain energy I had left wading through such worthless writing, I put away my laptop and drifted off to sleep.
This morning found my addled ass back at work, irritated by the daycare ladies but otherwise starting to feel a little bit normal. I was catching up on my blog-reading in between email correspondence and bench work, before writing up a blog post of my own, when I ended up on the comment stream over at Christie Wilcox’s latest SciAm post on the “Womanspace” matter. Christie did a wonderful job of explaining why the joke* Ed Rybicki made isn’t harmless, but I think the comments that follow illustrate even more vividly the damage incurred by “Womanspace”. Take this piece of gold from Tomsing:
EJ, the little lady in the kitchen is a stereotype, but it’s not necessarily negative (apart from the condescending tone of “little lady”, although she may in fact be little, I suppose). If it is used to limit what a woman can/should do, that’s negative.
Except the stereotype IS used to limit what women can/should do. I have no problem cooking, (and by the way, I’m pretty sure Isis doesn’t either, Tomsing). But I do have a problem with someone suggesting I was designed to cook, and men aren’t. “Womanspace” is all about what women and men are designed to do. By virtue of it’s foundation, the piece limits women to the described stereotypes.
Don’t even get me started on this piece of crap from tex78132:
This is the third blog I have read by the author. They all seem to follow a common theme. It is her opinion that in science (and by extension everywhere else) women must be thought of, and treated by men exactly like women think of and treat men. That is not scientific thinking, that is political thinking. And minority political thought at that. Where push comes to shove in this issue is when a STEM educated father like myself has a STEM educated daughter who is wildly more successful in science than I ever was. (But then I got out of the sciences into something more lucrative). I only wish she had continued in medical research instead of getting into a job where she could spend more time with her daughter. Her husband didn’t influence her decision. Her parents didn’t. Women make decisions men wouldn’t. They just aren’t the same.
Because women make the decision to stay home with their kids based on evolution, and no man would ever make the same decision. Your daughter’s decision, I’m sure, had nothing to do with the fact that the field of biomedical research (or other STEM fields for that matter) is not among the friendliest to young mothers. Excuse me while I chuck my keyboard through my computer screen.
And then there’s this little sexist nugget from timbo555:
This is the fate of today’s postmodern female liberal arts students; educated, trained, really, in radical feminist theory, and let loose upon the world, like so many rat terriers, eagerly sniffing out “social injustice” and barking loudly at whoever will listen when they think they’ve found some.
NOW I understand the ire I drew when I wrote about the term “feminist” several months back. (For those wondering, reading this comment initiated my moment.) Mr. (Ms?) Timbo555: I am not a postmodern female liberal arts student. I’m a feminist, and I’m a fucking scientist; back off you sexist asshole.
If it wasn’t apparent at the outset, maybe the surfacing of comments like these will shine a light on the problems with a magazine of the stature of Nature publishing a piece like “Womanspace”. There are actually men (and women) out there who think that the current standing of women in our society is solely due to what evolution has given us the prowess to do. And when the most influential in our field excuse the glorification of these stereotypes, whether the intent is harmless or not, they only serve to strengthen them. Ed Rybicki, Henry Gee, and others over at Nature have given misogynists a new, shiny, and prestigious platform on which to attack women; THAT is why “Womanspace” is such a problem.
Shame on you, Nature. Shame on you.
*Hubby not only found the article not funny, but the suggestion that he couldn’t shop offensive. He generally does a much better job finding good deals than myself (I tend to find the most expensive items), and probably does the majority of shopping for our household goods (baby stuff, groceries, etc). He even buys his own clothing, thankyouverymuch.