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Womanspace
November 17, 2011 7:18 PM   Subscribe

Nature, one of the most well known (and well cited) scientific journals, recently published a humor piece entitled Womanspace. A senior editor of Nature, Henry Gee, commented last month on the article: "I'm amazed we haven't had any outraged comments about this story." Well, the outraged comments have arrived.

Numerous scientist bloggers have written about the sexism they see in both the story and what it means that it was published in Nature: Dr. Isis, Neurotic Physiology, Paul Anderson. Kate Clancy, who is a writer for Scientific American, which is owned by Nature Publishing Group (NPG), says she feels betrayed by her company and urges people to #occupyNPG. Alex Wild suggests that this is just the launching of NPG's new, woman-oriented journal.
posted by demiurge (88 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I also don’t particularly like to shop without a purpose and I hate to meander. I suspect there are other women like me. Maybe we are not women enough for womenspace.

Dr Isis is a goddess with words
posted by infini at 7:24 PM on November 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is it about science or bits of humanity? Either one creates a bang of large portions.
posted by Mblue at 7:25 PM on November 17, 2011


This is interesting. Apart from the sexism, what stands out is the sheer tiredness of the tropes. I hesitate to pile on the author, who has a very nice-guy look in his picture, but I agree with Paul Anderson that this manuscript shouldn't have been given the light of day, let alone in a major journal.

I admire that people are taking it to the more metacritical level - what does this say about the framing of the scientific discussion?
posted by Miko at 7:26 PM on November 17, 2011 [20 favorites]


What the hell, Nature? Of course, the New Scientist is full of bullshit like this only dressed up as actual research, so I suppose at least Nature grasps that this is fundamentally not a real thing.
posted by Frowner at 7:30 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Women can find things in stores that men can't! Ha ha!" <-- 970 words shorter and just as funny.
posted by jcreigh at 7:30 PM on November 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


I've not long come out of a meeting where we (to a certain degree) bagged Nature as a pop-sci journal, while bemoaning the fact that we'll never be published in it because we don't deal with charismatic flora or fauna.

I wish I'd seen this 3 hours earlier. I realise that Nature has always had light-hearted stuff like this, and it's become more common in recent years, but that sort of stuff is more blog or Wired territory
posted by Pinback at 7:34 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


But the answer is clear: women can access parallel universes in order to find things, whether they do it consciously or not.

It's called using your eyes to notice the world around you for about half a second.

God, I HATE the whole "Women gather, men hunt" shopping thing. Especially when I had a boyfriend who would trot this out about once a week to tell me how superior his shopping methods were to mine. Well, listen, men's clothing is all about classics. You can always find classic men's clothing any time of year. For women if they decide to buy bright-yellow plastic 5 inch heels then that's what there is, and good luck to you. To find something else you have to look at each thing and quickly evaluate to see if it fits your criteria. This whole business of walking in a straight line towards the thing you go in to get is nonsense and doesn't exist when it comes to shopping for women's clothing. Or apparently girl's underwear. Or anything else.
posted by bleep at 7:35 PM on November 17, 2011 [28 favorites]


Bah. My husband hasn't seen the inside of a grocery store since we got married. This article just makes me hold my head in my hands.
posted by PuppyCat at 7:42 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Men shop like this, but women shop like this, nahmean?"

Really, that's their article?

And an anecdote against them: my wife hates to shop, unless she knows specifically what she needs. She is the hunter. I, on the other hand, am the husband, and I love to forage. I scout for the best deal, scavenge the discount items, and pluck odd items from the shelves. I feel victorious when I have only purchased items that are marked down, and come away with everything I need, and only a few things that weren't on the list. Sure, shopping is then a mult-store adventure, but I like it.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:46 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


The main problem with this article is its failure to cite the relevant literature: T. Allen (1990) "Men Are Pigs".
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:48 PM on November 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


And I envy women for the diversity of clothing options before them. Business attire for men is limited to how daring you are in color selection.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:48 PM on November 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Guys, guys, it's okay for him to say it! He likes women! I mean, he married one and even has a daughter! Some of his best friends are women!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:51 PM on November 17, 2011 [24 favorites]


It's all an excuse for not having practiced grocery shopping enough to get good at it. Anyone can find these things - you just have to put in a little effort. Also, fathers should know where to get kid's clothing - it's a part of parenthood.
posted by jb at 7:52 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Apart from the sexism, what stands out is the sheer tiredness of the tropes.

This. Miko has identified what really makes this article so weird - the tropes used make it sound like it was written in the fifties or some such, or something out of a book like "Coffee, Tea or Me".

What it does say about the scientific community or at least, Nature and its editors' view of their readership, is that they are a)out of touch and thus b)obsolete.
posted by infini at 7:58 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's all an excuse for not having practiced grocery shopping enough to get good at it.

This is pretty much it; it's kind of a classic dodge to present oneself as such a hopeless buffoon that you're really better off doing his work for him. Silly man, he can't possibly handle the many complex tasks a woman can easily do! Better to let him fart around at home bloviating with his friend!

Dumb stuff is said every day. THe difference here is the attention to where it was printed and why that seemed all right. I'm actually really heartened at the outcry (though the NPG parody keeps crashing my browser, so I can't see it). Science of the lamer kind is too often put to work justifying cultural biases, and though it's of limited relevance it sells news stories. The intersection of science and gender, from both a career-and-opportunity standpoint and a lay standpoint, presents a fair number of problems. I'm not a scientist, but if I were, and had to be concerned that the community of scientists out there potentially (not) hiring me or (not) giving me a grant based on the supposed capabilities of my gender as a whole, - or, worse, sticking me with doing the supply runs for the lab while the guys toss ideas around, because clearly I'm so much better at shopping - I'd be writing in too.
posted by Miko at 8:00 PM on November 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


This doesn't describe anyone I know.

My husband, I have a really hard time shopping with him, especially for food, because he wanders around, sniffs every cheese, pores over the fancy olives, reads the back of each brand of olive oil. Shopping with him takes three times as long.

I'm a laserbeam. I go in with a list and a plan and I'm out in twenty minutes.

My brother-in-law loves to shop. His wife does not. My husband's best friend (hetero male) loves LOVES to shop. His girlfriend and I usually stay home, operate the grill and drink beer while we send our men to the store (for more steaks and beer, of course).

Also, I can't find shit. My uterus is not a homing device. My husband and I were discussing this tonight at dinner: on one hand, I can remember all my grade school room numbers. On the other hand, I can't remember where I put my glasses unless I put them in exactly the same place every night. This is why I'm hyper organized, because otherwise I'd never get out of the house.

And I am a stay at home mom, married to man. Pretty damn traditional, especially for this day and age. Who the hell is this supposed to apply to?
posted by Leta at 8:02 PM on November 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


"I'm amazed we haven't had any outraged comments about this story."

"Gee, I guess we'll have to troll harder next time."
posted by Sys Rq at 8:08 PM on November 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


Ugh. A dreadful piece of writing in so many ways.
posted by kprincehouse at 8:12 PM on November 17, 2011


...which Jethro Tull albums we liked...

...trawling for girls' knickers...


I'm guessing Aqualung.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:21 PM on November 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


ugh, I hate this stuff. What's sad though is how much some men who by all accounts seem very feminist and with-it still buy into the "I'm so hopeless on my own, the hyper organized women will help me" trope. I know all these men who say, "let me ask my social secretary," or "let me consult my day planner," where day planner and social secretary is their wife/girlfriend. "Let me consult my day planner, which I call [wife's name!]" I usually say with a straight face "Oh, I have a day planner, too. I call it a day planner."
posted by sweetkid at 8:22 PM on November 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


It has suddenly occurred to me that my male user name must reflect something more profound about my inner being, because I loathe shopping* with the heat of a thousand CPUs. And when I do shop, I always follow the "I know what I'm looking for; now I've got it; now I'm outta here" routine. Thanks, Nature!

My father, incidentally, has done all the grocery shopping for over thirty years, ever since that fateful day in the early 70s when he mentioned to my mother that now that he'd finished his Ph.D., he felt like he had nothing to do.

*--Unless bookstores are involved, in which case all bets are off.
posted by thomas j wise at 8:28 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ugh. Shopping for anything ever is like a fucking rescue mission behind enemy lines. It's even worse when a store rearranges its inventory for horrible cruel mysterious reasons. Last winter in BB&B I had a drunk Martin Sheen in the beginning of Apocalypse Now breakdown because they moved the fucking shower curtains too far from the LZ.


anyway. this article annoyed me in so many ways.
posted by elizardbits at 8:30 PM on November 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


If Nature abhors a vacuum, how come they publish stuff that sucks this hard?
posted by Abiezer at 8:31 PM on November 17, 2011 [67 favorites]


Was this maybe a horribly misguided attempt at an Andy Rooney tribute?
posted by straight at 8:34 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm with thomas j wise. Unless we are talking about bookstores, I hate and resent shopping. Grocery shopping is a chore, best over with as quickly and efficiently as possible, and I can manage that just fine after years of practice. But I loathe (loathe!) clothes or shoe shopping about as much as I loathe the whole "shopping as female recreation" trope, with is to say a very very large amount.
posted by jokeefe at 8:35 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rooney, and the show.
posted by Mblue at 8:36 PM on November 17, 2011


shopping for kid's clothes isn't exactly fun for anyone - neither is grocery shopping, especially when you are rushed and it's crowded.
posted by jb at 8:46 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the article: "It was very simple: I'd been staying with my friend Russell in Canberra"

There's no need to resort to a convoluted parallel universe 'womanspace' explanation.

They should just admit they got lost in the maze of roundabouts, never found the store, and were not man enough to ask anybody for directions.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:49 PM on November 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Was this maybe a horribly misguided attempt at an Andy Rooney tribute?

Mickey Rooney, maybe.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:53 PM on November 17, 2011


It's a shame there isn't more widespread recognition that the whole "Men are so clueless about shopping / cooking / babies / etc." shtick is just a passive-aggressive way of saying, "This is women's work and I shouldn't have to do it."
posted by straight at 8:56 PM on November 17, 2011 [68 favorites]


Caveat: I am a woman, and I love gathering exciting and new bottles of pickled things from shops so much I actually consider a form of hobby. My boyfriend gets upset if the exact brand of hummus he likes is not on the shelf, because it upsets his careful, Pacman-like rampage through the grocery aisles. On the other hand, to consider this "hunting" and "gathering" says to me that the author has "never studied anthropology" or maybe "reality."


On a higher level, this is really upsetting because just a few months ago, Nature Chemistry published this article by an amazing professor at my alma mater, which starts off with this passage:

One hundred years on from Marie Curie being awarded her second Nobel Prize there has been only a handful of female scientists who have received the call from Stockholm. Why are women still under-represented? A lack of ability or passion, or could it be that we create labs into which women don't quite fit?

Gee, I wonder.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:08 PM on November 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Dear Nature Publishing Group,

Given that your entire editorial staff really has no option but to resign in shame for allowing the "Womanspace" article to be published, please consider me as a candidate for the vacancies created by their stupendous oversight. My resume is attached.

Kind regards,

Jon Evil
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:15 PM on November 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


The most depressing part is that you hope science will be a rational and meritocratic environment, an occupation that will be somewhat less vulnerable to sexism, and if you're lucky enough to get good teachers and good mentors and good colleagues, you can even start to believe it--

--and then something like this will happen with the president of Harvard or the most prestigious journal in the world, and you're reminded that, nope, there's still a sizable and powerful contingent--all of whom should have enough brains and education to know better--who think you are essentially lesser than them, as a woman.

A week later, you'll hear someone cite the statistics of women in science, occasionally with a "Well, what can we do?" or, even worse, an outright "Girls and women are just less interested," and then you spend the day angrily stripping wires or stabbing your agar plates harder than you really need to.

Rinse, repeat.
posted by kagredon at 9:20 PM on November 17, 2011 [21 favorites]


Wow, this is like my tiresome, not-funny, sexist grandpa learned a bunch of fancy talk and had access to publishing his "aren't ladies the darnest thing" routine in Nature.
posted by availablelight at 9:22 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


it's kind of a classic dodge to present oneself as such a hopeless buffoon that you're really better off doing his work for him.

Jesus. I just talked to a PhD female friend today who was talking about her astrophysicist husband and how she had to feed the kids every night because it was too complicated for him, and he was just no good at cooking.

Ooops! Dropped a plate, guess I'm just no good at dishes!

I can't believe people still fall for this shit. If you are a rocket scientist, you can cook scrambled eggs.
posted by benzenedream at 9:32 PM on November 17, 2011 [19 favorites]


This... was a very tongue in cheek article and very appropriate for Nature in a number of ways. Unfortunately, it seems that non-English, and even the newer generation of Englishmen (no, wait, Englishpeople), have lost the ability to detect subtle humor.

Its a shame that few outside of the comments section could not conceive of the idea that a couple of physics nerds would write about quantum physics in order to mock the 'evidence' gathering of anthropologists, their hilarious species/gender wide extrapolation from said evidence, and their Science-By-Press-Release (forum/blog blast in this case) ways.

HarHar-Adam-Sandler humor might have fine lines that are imminently cross-able, tongue in cheek humor/satire is quite a bit more gray by comparison.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:47 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm male, and unless I need just a few things in the grocery store, I totally meander. Especially if I'm in a store with people handing out samples of tasty food. Sometimes I just walk around looking for new recipe ideas, or tweaks to old recipes.

My sister is the opposite; she hits a grocery store like a special forces unit hitting a target. She gets in, grabs her list items, finds the fastest checkout line (without fail), and is back in the car in the same time it takes me to stare longingly into the butcher's case.
posted by weirdoactor at 9:48 PM on November 17, 2011


Its a shame that few outside of the comments section could not conceive of the idea that a couple of physics nerds would write about quantum physics in order to mock the 'evidence' gathering of anthropologists, their hilarious species/gender wide extrapolation from said evidence, and their Science-By-Press-Release (forum/blog blast in this case) ways.

Maybe it's because that has nothing to do with how modern anthropology is practiced?

Hint: if you have to come up with a careful dissection about why your joke was totally hilarious, it isn't.
posted by kagredon at 9:51 PM on November 17, 2011 [12 favorites]


Beyond the "hahaha, women are different than men" trope trotted out too often, I think this could have been funny. Except that it was the same trope trotted out too often with no new insists or silly bits of humor that made it any different than any other "women as shoppers" story. So it's not just sexist, it's extremely boring and poorly executed. I'm not sure it deserved to be published anywhere.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:53 PM on November 17, 2011


"I can't believe people still fall for this shit. If you are a rocket scientist, you can cook scrambled eggs."

To be fair, next time you're at one of those major scientific conferences that take over a city for a week like the ASM, take a moment to sit outside in view of a glass sliding door with a flask and some graduate students. The results are truly amazing. Academics across all conceivable divides from age, to gender, to status, to discipline, to a research, writing, or teaching focus, or even fame will stand in front of the door; confused at this new machine that has invaded their path. You will see people walk into it, you may recognize them.

When I did this, I knew that I had picked the right profession and was among my people. I find it totally conceivable that not all rocket scientists can cook scrambled eggs, and could name a number of women researchers I know who would at least have great difficulty in doing so. I find the idea that women are effective at these things, because of course they're women, is at least as offensive.

This really is just a deuchebag monopolizing some of the most valuable print space known to man with non-supportable and inflammatory bullshit.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:04 PM on November 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Maybe it's because that has nothing to do with how modern anthropology is practiced?

Hint: if you have to come up with a careful dissection about why your joke was totally hilarious, it isn't.


I may be confusing my sciences here. One of the ones related to anthropology or a sub-field? Regardless, it really is how I see it (whatever field it is) done outside of their specific journals.

I open NYT to see "RESEARCHERS FIND SHIN BONE, OLD VIRGIN WOMEN MORE LIKELY TO BE SERIAL KILLERS".
posted by Slackermagee at 10:06 PM on November 17, 2011


I open NYT to see "RESEARCHERS FIND SHIN BONE, OLD VIRGIN WOMEN MORE LIKELY TO BE SERIAL KILLERS".

I must have missed that while I was in Womanspace. Though I would think that, since your profile indicates you are a biochemist, you'd have some sympathy for non-scientific media taking ideas and running off in strange directions with them, no?
posted by kagredon at 10:16 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fuck this shit. Seriously.
posted by polymodus at 10:27 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


That people can become so unhinged by drivel, wherever it appears, is dismaying. Neither the original article (or whatever you call it) nor the shrieks of dismay emanating from apparently well educated professionals inspire confidence in the future of America (though the article was written by a couple guys in Australia, this outburst sounds solidly American). Nothing with an iota of importance to the furtherance of the welfare of women, men, society, Australia, science journals or anything else appeared in the piece or in the whole sorry mess of comments about it around the internet. A week spent "looking for the right words" of outrage? A week?! "Sexist stereotypes?" "Come to grips with subconscious bias"? "Political correctness"?? We started spouting this effluent fifty years ago; it was puerile foot stamping then, by people trying desparately not to notice that they were losing control over events they thought they had been driving, and has only deteriorated since. And "tired tropes"? You'd like, maybe, sprightly tropes? Supertropes?

People....

Western society is falling apart, and it isn't from subconscious bias or sexism or tired tropes. It's from wilfull ignorance, mendacity, greed, power hungry/self-serving conflictmongering, and a ballooning disregard for all humanity. We are doing to ourselves what we did to the "undeveloped" world over the last few hundred years. It's not politically incorrect, for God's sake. It's death and destruction.
posted by carping demon at 10:30 PM on November 17, 2011


it isn't from subconscious bias or sexism or tired tropes. It's from wilfull ignorance, mendacity, greed, power hungry/self-serving conflictmongering

I would submit that these aren't really all separate categories, but I'm not totally sure what you're trying to say.
posted by kagredon at 10:35 PM on November 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Slackermagee, the most charitable view I can find of your interpretation is that the authors were pretending to be rampantly sexist in the pages of Nature in order to make a joke about science-by-press-release. That doesn't sound like something that should have been printed there.
posted by Serf at 10:36 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would submit that these aren't really all separate categories, but I'm not totally sure what you're trying to say.


I'm not understanding either. The author's second post in the comments section reeks of willful ignorance.
posted by polymodus at 10:37 PM on November 17, 2011


and a ballooning disregard for all humanity

We're only discussing disregard for half of humanity here, but that seems like an okay start.
posted by Serf at 10:47 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


We are doing to ourselves what we did to the "undeveloped" world over the last few hundred years.

Liberating it?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:48 PM on November 17, 2011


though the article was written by a couple guys in Australia, this outburst sounds solidly American

That's because Americans are incredibly sensitive about this stuff, especially in academia. Aussies, I cannot speak for.

See for example this paper that's widely been passed around: Haslanger.pdf
posted by polymodus at 10:53 PM on November 17, 2011


Sorry completely wrong paper. This one: Haslanger.pdf
posted by polymodus at 10:54 PM on November 17, 2011


When a friend pointed this piece out to me last week I had to double-check that it was in Nature-the-prestegious-science-magazine, not some low-rent blog that happened to share the same name. I had hoped for better from a prominent journal these days.
posted by JiBB at 10:55 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


it isn't from subconscious bias or sexism or tired tropes. It's from wilfull ignorance, mendacity, greed, power hungry/self-serving conflictmongering

I would submit that these aren't really all separate categories, but I'm not totally sure what you're trying to say.


If I'm translating correctly, I believe its "Nero, stop that fiddling right now and grab a bucket"
posted by infini at 11:05 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


For a piece of fiction published in a column called "Futures", this reads as horribly antiquated.
posted by SakuraK at 11:13 PM on November 17, 2011


All you people outraged at these out-of-touch researchers attempting observational humor; that is probably exactly how scientists feel when they hear humorist butcher the interpretation of their research.
posted by midmarch snowman at 11:16 PM on November 17, 2011


All you people outraged at these out-of-touch researchers attempting observational humor; that is probably exactly how scientists feel when they hear humorist butcher the interpretation of their research.

Hi, I'm a scientist and a woman. It's not a comparable feeling. At all.
posted by kagredon at 11:17 PM on November 17, 2011 [25 favorites]


Simply put, the dudes made the unscientific mistake of saying because one woman is like this, all women are. That's the sexist thing, you see. If they'd called it, MrsDudesSpace, nobody much would have cared. An offensive analogy - 95% of necrophiliacs are male, therefore all males are necrophiliacs. Ridiculous, see?
posted by b33j at 11:43 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Issues of sexism aside, Occam's razor suggests that the existence of extra dimensions simply so that women can shop in them is highly unlikely.

Of course, as b33j points out, the authors don't have enough data to support any hypothesis! They haven't even proposed an experiment by which such a hypothesis could be tested, instead preferring to assume it without proof.

This doesn't belong in The Journal of Irreproducible Results, let alone Nature.
posted by beryllium at 4:02 AM on November 18, 2011


In my family, my wife hates shopping, so I do most of the grocery/general shopping. I also tend to do most of the cooking. Then again, I'm also a Stay at Home Dad.
posted by drezdn at 5:07 AM on November 18, 2011


Hi, I'm a scientist and a woman. It's not a comparable feeling. At all.

My thoughts exactly.
posted by sc114 at 5:37 AM on November 18, 2011


I reserve the right to "shriek" and "become unhinged" about all sorts of shit, carping demon, and cavalier sexism in a major scientific publication definitely falls under the shit category.
posted by lydhre at 5:41 AM on November 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


wilfull ignorance, mendacity, greed, power hungry/self-serving conflictmongering, and a ballooning disregard for all humanity.

Which is exactly what our good-ole-boy Henry Gee engaged in when he decided to troll his readership by publishing it and then being surprised that he didn't get enough goats.

His actions trouble me way more than the author's -- the author might just be an ignorant dumbshit (but necessarily willfully so, b/c you'd have to live under a rock not to get that this is sexist), but Gee's comment reveals he knew, published it without any regard for those he knew he was insulting, and did so in a deliberate attempt to generate a shit-storm in the community. And he's got a bit of history doing so.

(And the antiquated tropes seem typical for Futures, Nature's "humor" & fiction back page. The few times I've read it, it's been dreadful... which is a whole other kind of willful ignorance on the part of the writers/editors.)
posted by Westringia F. at 5:43 AM on November 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


Hah. Love the commenter who noted the article violates Nature's own terms and conditions for its site, which bans sexist submissions.

Henry Gee comes out looking quite the ass here. We can only hope he has the brains to apologize quickly now that he's gotten the attention he wished for.

Anyone holding their breath?
posted by mediareport at 6:24 AM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, how is this a commentary on anthropology, of all things? Speaking as someone who considers herself both a scientist and an anthropologist, I thought it showed just how the people in charge of publishing scientific journals are out of touch with the issues that affect women scientists. When these are the voices and ... concerns (?) that a journal like Nature privileges, it's just another reminder that the default scientist is an absent minded academic who can rely on his female significant other to pick up the pieces.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:31 AM on November 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh, wow. Westringia F.'s "bit of history" link has some fascinating backstory - well, allegations, and many of the links to relevant comments no longer work - about Henry Gee's behavior at a January 2010 conference:

Hey Henry Gee, you know who doesn’t like you? Me.

I was sitting behind you in Dr. Isis’s session on civility at ScienceOnline, and the way you belligerently yelled at the woman sitting next to me made me sick. Furthermore, at the conclusion of the session that you single-handedly turned into an episode of Jerry Springer by exhibiting a complete lack of self-control and masculine aggression, when you stood over her (and me) and yelled insults at her again before storming off, it made me afraid for the physical safety of us both. You may as well have physically attacked her, because the outcome was the same — it created a chilling, silencing effect. Because of what you did, the brave woman sitting next to me, as well as others in the room, might be deterred from speaking out against hegemenous patriarchal constructs in the future because they’ll be afraid assholes like you will come at them with testosterone-fueled rage. What you did there was defaming to you and the institution you were there representing, and are here representing on this forum, and you deserve every bit of criticism you have coming.

If there is anyone who is casting a pall over the enterprise, Henry Gee it is you.


So, yeah, it's not really clear, but there's some weird, weird history here. Publishing this kind of SHOCKER SEXIST garbage seems to have been a salvo on Henry Gee's part in some longer war.
posted by mediareport at 6:34 AM on November 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Unfortunately, it seems that non-English, and even the newer generation of Englishmen (no, wait, Englishpeople), have lost the ability to detect subtle humor developed the idea that they should expect basic professional respect for their work and no longer be required to silently tolerate lame, exhausted attempts at humor which really serve to reinforce the culture of resistance to their involvement in their fields.
posted by Miko at 6:54 AM on November 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


carping demon: Western society is falling apart

And you're wasting time posting comments on Metafilter?!

Seriously, posting a comment on a forum board about how the subject isn't important and isn't worth complaining about might just be the most self-refuting argument possible.
posted by straight at 7:47 AM on November 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately, it seems that non-English, and even the newer generation of Englishmen (no, wait, Englishpeople), have lost the ability to detect subtle humor.

Dude, the only thing funny here is the spectacle of older male scientists scratching their heads, wondering, "What could possibly explain the absence of women in the sciences?" and then publishing this kind of "joke" that so blatantly illustrates the assumptions that put obstacles in women's path.

"But of course cooking and buying underwear is something women do! I'm too busy thinking about science!"
posted by straight at 7:54 AM on November 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


straight: ""But of course cooking and buying underwear is something women do! I'm too busy thinking about science! SCIENCE!""

FTFY.
posted by Samizdata at 7:58 AM on November 18, 2011


This article is hilarious. The comments about his wife and daughter disappearing are so funny. It's obvious that he is the one who is spacing out in the grocery store.
posted by Gwynarra at 8:32 AM on November 18, 2011


If Nature abhors a vacuum, how come they publish stuff that sucks this hard?

Inspired, Abiezer.

Following your inspiration:

Nature abhors a vacuum, but not, apparently, the vacuous.
posted by jamjam at 10:23 AM on November 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


I saw this when it went around the feminist blogosphere. It's so hard to resist responding to sexism of this sort with ageism. But then I remind myself that my dad is a couple of decades older than this guy, and is in the hard sciences, and doesn't pull this nonsense.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:27 AM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Miko: I hesitate to pile on the author, who has a very nice-guy look in his picture,...

???
posted by IAmBroom at 10:44 AM on November 18, 2011


I Googled his faculty page.
posted by Miko at 10:53 AM on November 18, 2011


Since the links were borked inside the "bit of history" link I posted:
Here's the Nature Network thread that's being referred to;
this is the comment quoted above describing Gee's behavior;
and this is Gee's rejoinder with the phrase 'looney feminist nonsense.'
posted by Westringia F. at 11:09 AM on November 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Miko, I was actually commenting on the irony of you judging his character based on his looks.

In a thread about stereotyping.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:23 AM on November 18, 2011


Miko, I think IAmBroom is boggling because it looks like you were implying that you'd have piled on this guy without hesitation if he looked...creepy? ugly? what?
posted by straight at 11:23 AM on November 18, 2011


wow westringia thos comments are wow

"Now, I responded- rather more forcefully than I should have, that I belong to a minority (the Jews) that is despised by the same cadre of Left-leaning academics who speak up so pompously for women and minorities."

Huh.
posted by beefetish at 1:39 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy fuck am I glad I've never paid attention to the comments in Nature News, the violently sexist thread that Westringia F. mentioned is beyond not cool.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:58 PM on November 18, 2011


The reason my wife can find things in stores that I can't is that she wears yoga pants.
posted by srboisvert at 2:43 PM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tomorrow we are having some people over for dinner at my house. I (female) made a list of needed items last weekend; on Tuesday, I purchased all needed items (and nothing else) in one half-hour shopping trip on my lunch hour. Tomorrow I expect my boyfriend will make his usual trip to the grocery store "to buy beer for the party"; he will return 2 hours later with a car full of bags of every conceivable kind of junk food, plus a 6-pack of beer.

When I read things like this Nature article, I wonder what kind of freak I am; I was always pretty sure I was a woman, but I guess I'm not since I don't act like I'm supposed to.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 2:48 PM on November 18, 2011


"I was always pretty sure I was a woman, but I guess I'm not since I don't act like I'm supposed to."

Please return to Stepford for software upgrade. Hardware retrofit optional but recommended.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:07 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Miko, I was actually commenting on the irony of you judging his character based on his looks.

Oh. No, it's just that I went Googling him all ready to be outraged and pile on, and then he had a smiley picture and I started to think about the internet tendency to totally lambaste people and felt a little bad about it. I think his point of view is dumb and tired and said so, but I think the proper place to lay the outrage is on the editor(s). As I said, the world is full of stupid ideas, and the only reason we even know about this guy's stupid ideas is that someone thought they were worth publishing in a science journal so monolithic that it's the only science journal most people can even name.
posted by Miko at 3:11 PM on November 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


But, Henry Gee - what about us Jewish women scientists??
posted by ChuraChura at 3:57 PM on November 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Depends -- are you Left-leaning???
posted by Sys Rq at 4:03 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the Kate Clancy link in the fpp:

I felt completely alienated and abandoned by a journal that is supposed to publish science, not fiction that represents offensive cultural biases.


From Westringia's links we could probably add "or pursuing oblique personal vendettas against so-called 'looney feminists'"
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 6:32 PM on November 18, 2011


Maybe if Nature can piss away a bit more of its credibility we can end up with a free-access journal as the pinnacle of scientific prestige.
posted by Zalzidrax at 2:35 PM on November 19, 2011


Well, there goes the last of this layperson's illusions that Nature is a serious journal. Ed Rybicki sounds like someone who'd feel equally at home writing for The Daily Mail.
posted by purplecrackers at 1:15 PM on November 21, 2011


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