What I should be writing about this morning (hint: not Womanspace)

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 termfeminist” 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.

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6 thoughts on “What I should be writing about this morning (hint: not Womanspace)

  1. To people like timbo555:

    I’m a rat terrier. And a woman who can’t take a joke. And an over aggressive bitch because I will ask a second time for what I want/need. I am also prejudiced against men because I advertise for internships in forums more easily accessible to women than to men.

    But you know what. I don’t hate you anywhere near as much as you seem to hate me. I hope you can find peace with that.

  2. At least some of those commenters are just Ed Rybicki using a sock puppet. What an ass. http://freethoughtblogs.com/entequilaesverdad/2011/11/18/dear-nature-there-is-a-crucial-difference-between-being-contentious-and-being-a-misogynistic-asshole/

    What I don’t understand is how quickly this issue is dying– it hasn’t been picked up by the media. The author and editor are completely unchecked and spewing their vileness. Nature has basically said, “This is who we are: Clueless misogynistic bastards.” And the scientific community seems to be taking it.

    I don’t like that.

  3. I think it’s amazing how antagonistic these guys are being about the whole thing. I for one was too pissed (and sick) initially to write about this, as I am now seeing several others were when they first read it. I’m just now finding the words to describe how upsetting it is.

    On the other hand, I absolutely hated linking to it, even for the purposes of this post. It’s like I’m handing them extra publicity or something. I don’t know why this is different than anything else I’d bitch about online, but it feels different. Maybe because of the reaction from Rybicki and Gee. Maybe because I’M the part of the class being attacked. I don’t know, but the more I think and read about it, the madder I get. In fact, this makes me madder than anything I’ve seen since starting this blog, and that’s saying something.

  4. Pingback: Womanspace: Responses to Rybicki’s display of male privilege on NPG « The Contemplative Mammoth

  5. Sure, the Nature piece was ridiculous, it wasnt research and did not deserve a chance in hell to be published in a science journal, let alone Nature. Further, it wasnt well written and wasnt funny and made me yawn with boredom.

    But, seriously, the militant feminists have overdone the reaction and show of hurt over sexism. I mean, we are at a point in American culture where people on major networks like CBS sit down and joke about a man who had his penis cut off by his wife (to wild cheers from the audience). And this because the man had asked for a divorce! Talk about an unfunny joke!

    A crime so brutal as a mans penis cut off is now a joke in America… is praised on CBS to wild cheers! Is it possible your cries about male domination are a bit overstated?

  6. Actually, I’m a progressive, pro-abortion, left of center woman and I agree with timbo555. I am sick to death of reading comments by snotty, condescending, narrow-minded women’s studies majors who claim to speak for all women. If you look at ANY of the major feminist blogs, the blog topics and the comments read like a bunch of mean girls at the high school lunch table. They DO act like terriers, always looking for a fight or an opportunity to slam someone with some pithy, snarky comment. Often these comments are also extremely one-sided, biased, and intended to shut down debate.

    As a woman who values critical thinking and weighing the truth of any given subject (life is NOT black and white), I am tired of so-called feminists who make sweeping generalizations about things that are not monolithic. For instance, I dislike many of the conservatives policies immensely, but I do not pretend conservative politicians speak for any woman who doesn’t embrace the term liberal. Claiming to be pro-woman while insulting anyone who even slightly disagrees with you makes for a weak argument indeed. If feminists want to be taken seriously by other women they need to drop the abrasive and whiny tone and start speaking logically and respectfully.

    I won’t call myself a feminist because I don’t have the burning need to be a snarky bitch, and I don’t want to associate with gender bullies. Finally, as a stranger rape survivor, I have every right to be wary of men, but even I think that many internet feminists are using rape to boost their own arguments and they take it way too far. Feminism has a bad name because many of it’s most vocal proponents are hostile, condescending and hyperbolic. As an educated woman, I think it’s an embarrassment.

    Being pro-women’s rights doesn’t make you a feminist. When I say this to feminists they get all pissed off and start spewing nasty comments or say “if you believe in women’s rights you ARE a feminist” which is totally illogical and insulting. That makes about as much sense as saying “if you believe in love, you ARE an evangelical christian.” While some critics of feminism are genuine misogynists, I believe many people are simply pointing out the vicious and unnecessarily shitty attitudes displayed by so-called feminists online. Pointing out that some feminists act like pissy little tyrants who browbeat and insult people who disagree with them does not make someone a misogynist or anti-women’s rights. My 2c as a progressive woman. Feminists don’t speak for me just because they say they do.

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