I’m certainly partial to science on Tumblr, because … well, I’m biased, and Tumblr is better :) But over on Facebook, pages like I Fucking Love Science are daily reminding millions of people how awesome it is to discover how the world works (or at least that science memes apparently never get old). Earlier this week, the world “found out” that the creator of that page “turned out” to be a woman, when Elise Andrew posted a link to her new Twitter account.
You can probably guess what happened next. To everyone’s dismay and no one’s surprise, most of the 1,000+ comments on that post expressed surprise that a popular page was published by a woman. Many of them took it a step further, calling her a “babe” and saying “damn that’s hot” and “sexy and smart!”.
Listen, it’s 2013. The world is not gender neutral, and Elise being a woman matters in some ways. I mean, imagine if the fact that a page like that is run by a woman motivates other young women to pay attention to science or gives them pride in their intellectual abilities. That’s awesome. But every time someone expresses surprise that a woman could do it, or mentions their looks in the same breath as their accomplishments … it’s one step forward and one step back, and here we are spinning our wheels instead of driving into the future. Everyone needs to call this kind of stuff out when they see it.
I know this because I have been the guy making those comments to some women at other points in my life. I didn’t understand why what I was saying or staring at or equating was hurtful or sexist, much less completely ineffective in terms of looking cool in front of women. But people talked to me, and I learned. Now I’m trying to be an ally, forever imperfect, but trying to help others achieve what they deserve. We can all do that.
Biological gender (which doesn’t even begin to get into gender identity) is nothing more than everyone’s random lot in drawing one of two chromosomal combinations (there’s actually more than that, but you get the point) from their parents. It doesn’t make anyone smarter, more capable, prettier, uglier, softer, tougher or sciencier than anyone else.
Anyway, go follow Elise on Twitter and tell her you’ve got her back. It takes an army to change things like this, and we science folks need to stand up for one another!
Thank you for this.
For those of you who haven’t heard, Glee blatantly and without pity ripped off Jonathan Coulton’s hilarious arrangement of “Baby Got Back” this week. Not like “these sound very familiar” kinda ripoffs, but a note-for-note, same banjo track, exact same tempo, also used the phrase “Jonny C’s in…
I am dissapoint, Glee.