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The worst face of intellectualism: the bluestocking
February 24, 2009 5:44 AM   Subscribe

On British TV last night, Gail Trimble, a Classics scholar at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, singlehandedly trounced the opposing team in University Challenge. To some a smug, bluestocking know-it-all, to others a role model. Cue the fightback and lots of questions about whether we, as a society, actually like really clever people and specifically, clever women?.
posted by MuffinMan (166 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yes! Rachel Maddow. (Sigh)
posted by Carol Anne at 5:53 AM on February 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


I <3 smart!
posted by schyler523 at 5:55 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Personally, I'm very attracted to intelligent women.
posted by Nick Jordan at 5:55 AM on February 24, 2009


The Daily Mail has been wringing its hands over what the backlash means for the state of the UK as well.
posted by availablelight at 5:57 AM on February 24, 2009


That Sun link is so daft. So what if she doesn't know about X-Factor or Chelsea? Gail isn't superior, she's just into different things to Sun readers. So why the need to put her in her place. Talk about dealing with a percieved snobbery by replacing it with reverse snobbery.
posted by treblekicker at 6:00 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Really, it doesn't matter what people, as a society, like.

What matters is that the clever people don't get pissed, stop noodling around with this or that hobby of theirs, get together and build a giant "LASER" to ransom your cities for, shall we say, one trillion dollars.

I mean geez people. I've got books to read.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:00 AM on February 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


Personally, I'm very attracted to intelligent women.

Ladies, I sure love cunnilingus!
posted by nasreddin at 6:01 AM on February 24, 2009 [20 favorites]


treblekicker: "That Sun link is so daft. So what if she doesn't know about X-Factor or Chelsea? Gail isn't superior, she's just into different things to Sun readers. So why the need to put her in her place. Talk about dealing with a percieved snobbery by replacing it with reverse snobbery."

Why the need?
Because it's the Sun. If she won't take her shirt off for Page 3 they're not interested in what she has to say.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 6:02 AM on February 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


How do we as a society feel about Classics scholars?

Next.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:04 AM on February 24, 2009


Too right: Page 3 girls are extremely insightful. They do their own stunts, too.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:06 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


That spiteful bastard! Just because she's done loads and loads of work for this, just because she's a creepy little swot who's done about 15 million tons of work for this, like a girl, and I'm so hard and street and cool that I've done absolutely bugger all, and she's done loads and loads....
posted by Joe Beese at 6:09 AM on February 24, 2009 [8 favorites]


Smug', 'brain-rupturingly irritating', 'vicious bitch', 'a horse-toothed snob'. . . With every insult there emerges a new member of the growing ranks of a nasty, insecure tribe who need to be comforted in their own dumbness, rather than impressed by another's brilliance.

Oh that just makes me sad. A vicious bitch? How is she a bitch for knowing things?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:10 AM on February 24, 2009


It's personally my highest aspiration to be a bluestocking, but then again, I may be weird, and I'm certainly used to being pigeonholed as a know-it-all bitch.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:11 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


The truth is, she wasn't dominant in this round, even within her own team, despite what the headlines said.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 6:14 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


British men like the author of that tvscoop.tv article need to be let in on a secret: when British men try to act like average-joe 'cool' tough guys, it's laughable to Americans. They do, sophisticated, classy, ironic, haughty, imperial, etc brilliant, but not street tough. I don't know why that is, maybe it's that the level of macho in tough guys in the US (real or imagined), given it's ethnic mixture is astronomically higher than that in the UK. Remember a few years ago when there was a rash of 'chavs' happy slapping women on the street? American men were completely dumbfounded by that. We simply didn't understand how the first guy who did it lived long enough to upload the video.

When I read things like this:

Being a bloke, I'm pre-programmed to take sides. I'll take sides over almost anything. Football matches which feature two teams that I don't support; Which make of guitar is the best; Two people running for a bus; picking sides in quiz shows.

all I can think of is how many times daily this guy would have had his ass kicked at any given US high school. It's like he took the American version of cool as embodied in a 1984 K-Mart kids clothing catalog and ran with it. Being a bloke you take sides in quiz shows and soccer matches? What a man's man. His penis must be a whole four inches long!

Smart women are super excellent, soccer is dumb, and men who takes sides on quiz shows that they are not actively gambling on should never mock the bullying of others.. So it has been and so it will be for ages unto ages. Amen.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:19 AM on February 24, 2009 [18 favorites]


Meh, I'm certain this could all be said again, and before.
posted by oddman at 6:20 AM on February 24, 2009


The Sun made me hoot with laughter. In my head I heard this read in a highly aggrieved voice
But she came a cropper with questions on subjects like football, movies and the Brit Awards, getting NONE of our five correct.
Oh dear! None? NONE? That is just not possible, no one on earth claiming any sort of intelligence could NOT know the answer to who won Big Brother.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:20 AM on February 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


The truth is, she wasn't dominant in this round, even within her own team, despite what the headlines said.

Let me add, in case anyone thinks I'm slighting her, that she was clearly the strongest competitor in the programme's history (that I can remember, anyway). But it's obvious that The Times and the Guardian headlines were written in advance of the final. They ignored the fact that it was close, and that we heard much more of her team-mates than in past rounds.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 6:21 AM on February 24, 2009


Is this a quiz team or a goth-lite trio that gets played on KROQ?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:22 AM on February 24, 2009


Here's an 8' segment from British TV with bits from the show and an interview with Trimble about the hubbub. It gets good around 4:15, when she discusses the popular reaction, points out that "quick recall of facts" isn't really intelligence or understanding and notes that she doesn't think any of this would be happening if she wasn't a woman.
posted by mediareport at 6:22 AM on February 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


A vicious bitch? How is she a bitch for knowing things?

She's not a vicious bitch for knowing things. That would be silly. She's a vicious bitch for using the things she knows and demonstrating that she knows things that other people don't.

It's a slippery slope - as soon as one person demonstrates that they might know something that someone else doesn't, someone else might be tempted to put in place some kind of ranking system, assigning letter grades and the like.

And that might lead to hurt feelings and damaged self-esteem.
posted by kcds at 6:22 AM on February 24, 2009 [10 favorites]


Are there any YouTube clips of this woman? Non UKers would like to judge whether she's annoying tooo
posted by dydecker at 6:22 AM on February 24, 2009


Frankly, I stopped paying attention to the British tabloids a long, long time ago. If you are knowledgeable, like Trimble, they'll abuse you, but if you are ignorant, like Jade Goodie, they'll also abuse you. And this is not sexism: they will also abuse you if you are a man, whether you are gay (see Mendelson) or straight (see Ross). And being a place (either "Brussels" or "Westminster") or a social class ("posh gits" or "yobs") won't save you either.

They are just into abuse, you see. And the more newspaper circulation keeps plummetting, the more abuse they'll produce to keep themselves afloat. The only good thing: they aren't very complimentary about their own profession either (see the death of Diana Spencer).

Don't feed the trolls, fer Chrissakes.
posted by Skeptic at 6:23 AM on February 24, 2009 [8 favorites]


Wow that Times article is awful.

Jeremy Paxman, the effortlessly superior quizmaster, wanted to know the name for an annoying virtuous woman. “Gail Trimble,” half the nation, the unreconstructed half, shouted at their televisions. “Pollyanna,” piped up the woman herself, but she was wrong and five marks were deducted for her interruption. The answer was Goodie Two Shoes and Trimble looked as if she were about to sick up into hers.

Are they reporting it as fact that half the nation hated her by the middle of the show? Or is that just their projection?
posted by creasy boy at 6:23 AM on February 24, 2009


Is there video footage?
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:26 AM on February 24, 2009


Singlehandedly? I haven't watched the show, but the BBC report that she scored 1/3 of her team's points during the tournament. That's genuinely very impressive, but in a team of four people it's not that much above the expected amount: ~33% instead of ~25%. In an interview on the BBC news website, she stressed that it was a team effort and mentioned that she didn't get any of the starter questions "until the last ten minutes".

I'm not trying to denigrate her at all -- she's reported as the strongest player in a winning team, which is awesome -- but I don't understand why she's being singled out from her team-mates so much. Is it just media trying to play up the tired shock aspect of "wow, a pretty girl who also has a brain!!1!!oneeleven", or is there something else that I'm missing?

I've got to say I'm also disappointed, although not surprised, at the outpouring of vitriol against her. In the fragments of interviews and programme clips I've seen, she comes across as an intelligent and educated person who's happy to be doing well in a competition. She's also quite charming. Of course she smiles when she gets a question right, and of course she congratulates teammates when they do. If a footballer celebrates he's admired; if an academic celebrates she's being smug.

The most common theme I've seen in comments against her is that "you just know she makes fun of thick people." I find it deeply upsetting that so many people automatically assume that when a smart person is happy it must be at their own expense. I've never understood this, because it's not like anyone grew up being terrorised and openly mocked by the quiet, bookish ones in school. If anything, the mockery and intimidation goes the other way. So why are so many adults so resentful and suspicious of people who are smarter or more educated than them?
posted by metaBugs at 6:28 AM on February 24, 2009 [14 favorites]


It would seem inevitable that a social drama juxtaposing Oxbridge classicists and self-identified pubgoing "thickos" is as much about the boundaries and codes of England's class system as it is about gendered normativity or the perceived worth of intellectualism. If she were a phenom from a less illustrious, more plebian institution perhaps there would have been a different reaction. Of course, my understanding of British culture is limited and suffers to some extent from typical cross-Atlantic essentializations, especially when it comes to class conflict.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:29 AM on February 24, 2009


Are there any YouTube clips of this woman?

Soon come - a montage of her victory hair-flips. That was a not-quite-annoying tic which was also just short of endearing, an ambiguity which may be one reason for the tiny bubble of hate.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 6:30 AM on February 24, 2009


If a footballer celebrates he's admired; if an academic celebrates she's being smug.

That really nails it right there, doesn't it?
posted by mediareport at 6:31 AM on February 24, 2009 [9 favorites]


Up Scumbag!
posted by Liver at 6:31 AM on February 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


Okay, just watched the clip. She seems rather nice and charming. Dunno what the big fuss about.
posted by dydecker at 6:32 AM on February 24, 2009


Odi et amo.

Oh, who am I kidding. Amo.
posted by The White Hat at 6:35 AM on February 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


All I know is that I could have used her on some of my teams back in the day. Yeah, she would have sucked at a trash tournament but she would have kicked ass in ACF (glad that they allow jazz in questions now that it is a new century.)
posted by jadepearl at 6:36 AM on February 24, 2009


I will happily make fun of "thick" people now that I'm out of high school. If these were Americans we were talking about, they'd be the sort that re-elect Bush because they're afraid of gay people and the theory of evolution.
posted by Foosnark at 6:40 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Part of it is also to do with the fact that I am the captain, who is always giving the answers."

Man, this makes me a little sad, since she's the captain because she's the best on the team.

Last night's final was astonishing to watch. She was truly, truly brilliant, like in the previous rounds. Her team was good too, especially Lauren Schwartzman, and it would have been interesting to see them minus Trimble in a very close ending with Manchester.

I think it's hilarious to mock her for being posh and smart and female, because surely there's no way of advancing class parity better than by vilifying educated intellectual women. And, she just got to do what she'd wanted since she was a kid, kicked ass at it, and is being criticised for smiling when she was doing it well? I've wanted to be on UC since I was a kid too, and I cheer out loud every time I get one right. But I've also been called a know-it-all bitch plenty, so if I was as talented as that team, I'm sure I'd get the love too.


Pastabagel, are you fucking kidding me?

British men like the author of that tvscoop.tv article need to be let in on a secret: when British men try to act like average-joe 'cool' tough guys, it's laughable to Americans. They do, sophisticated, classy, ironic, haughty, imperial, etc brilliant, but not street tough. I don't know why that is, maybe it's that the level of macho in tough guys in the US (real or imagined), given it's ethnic mixture is astronomically higher than that in the UK. Remember a few years ago when there was a rash of 'chavs' happy slapping women on the street? American men were completely dumbfounded by that. We simply didn't understand how the first guy who did it lived long enough to upload the video.

[...]

Smart women are super excellent, soccer is dumb, and men who takes sides on quiz shows that they are not actively gambling on should never mock the bullying of others.. So it has been and so it will be for ages unto ages. Amen.


Jingoism, insinuating someone should have been beaten up or killed, snarky correlations between penis size and masculinity, gambling as the only valid motivation for enjoying a competition, and making fun of football? Smart women merit a bit more than that.
posted by carbide at 6:42 AM on February 24, 2009 [15 favorites]


The brainier the better. Nobody likes smug, but super-intelligent women are super hot.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:42 AM on February 24, 2009


If form is any guide, when Corpus Christi take on Manchester University in the final, Trimble, 26, will wipe the floor with them, ruthlessly amassing starters-for-10 and cowing the competition with what one contestant described as a form of "intellectual blitzkrieg".

you know she's using "the clear," don't you?
posted by Ironmouth at 6:45 AM on February 24, 2009


So why are so many adults so resentful and suspicious of people who are smarter or more educated than them?

Fear. Fear that the smart people have an "unfair" advantage to get ahead in life, to reap rewards and attain happiness. It is frustrating when you can't grasp concepts, when you can't retain knowledge, when you can't make connections no matter how hard you try, while someone else can do it effortlessly having been born with the right abilities.

There is also the fear that the smart people can fool you effortlessly if they want to; it isn't pleasant to feel as helpless as a baby at the mercy of others.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:57 AM on February 24, 2009 [11 favorites]


Yes, well the Times speaks for the educated middle class, and their article seems much more irritable than The Sun. Sun readers aren't threatened by brainy birds, because their livelihoods and self-image don't depend on it. Working people just think bookishness is an amusing personal quirk, call you 'prof' or something and forget it.

Middle class people in England are supposed to be earn more because they are 'brainier', but they actually aren't, and many of them spend their whole lives feeling great anxiety about this. That means when confronted with intellectual superiority they have to ridicule it. That Times paragraph is classic.
posted by communicator at 7:00 AM on February 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


She talks like a fag and her shit's all retarded.

God, It's like being in junior high school again, trying to miss just enough questions to get the second-highest score so the teacher doesn't name you as the highest scorer.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:07 AM on February 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


I caught the last five minutes of the show last night.

It's very British. Lots of class stuff, anti-intellectualism stuff, gender stuff, bad tabloid writing stuff, Times' increasingly poor journalism stuff. You could write a lot about this reaction. None of it would make the press look good.

Skeptic made a good post about the Sun - but it's important to note that what they are doing is no different to the Times or the Guardian. They all traffic certain positions and each paper has an incredibly narrow conception of its ideal reader in terms of class, interests and income. The columnists rarely hold the opinions they have printed personally. They hear about some news artifact, a pop-cultural 'happening' or similar, and they all know exactly how everybody else is going to respond to the event. The 'broadsheets' (the Times isn't one any more, I don't know if the Guardian still is) take up a large amount of column-space with meta-news pieces where they discuss the way the story is being handled by the tabloids, with a similar disdain to that which the tabloids have for whichever subject they're picking on.

Nobody ever lost a sale in the UK by slicing the class structure up too thinly and demonising a wafer that's just a hair's breadth from your own. We love that. There's a gag from the Simpsons about an African American comedian pointing out the difference in driving style between him and caucasian Americans, to which Homer laughs admitting his own lameness. The UK is like that except our society is astonishingly granular, and we all think we're the AA driver. Fairtrade buyers think they're a different species to organic food buyers. People who nearly bought Crocs until they read it wasn't done consider those who did insufferable fools. Daily Mail readers scoff at co-workers who get The Sun and The Times. Society is like Saussure's conception of language - it's negatively defined, I'm this person becuase I don't have the buying/reading/watching habits of those other people. If someone genuinely exceptional does appear (say, a very knowledgeable female) it's open season as much to remind ourselves of who we are as it is to take that person down.

Re: the program - I don't know the answers to University Challenge, so I switched over to the Book Quiz. That was actually far more offensive. A bunch of wrters answering questions in a panel format, guessing who wrote the following paragraph, which character was being described, the name of the poem etc. I stumbled across it and was interested to see if I knew any of the answers (nope). The writers did better than me, but not one of them could admit to it when they didn't know the answer. Every single question would be responded to with an 'Oh, I know this one,' or an 'It's on the tip of my tongue - I can see the cover in my study.' followed by over-indulged groans of 'Of course!' afterwards. They didn't know the answers.

What a country.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 7:12 AM on February 24, 2009 [12 favorites]


From the last link: "Why are people threatened by others who are cleverer than them?"

I'm not sure if this was supposed to be rhetorical or not, but I think it's the same reason people are threatened by others who are more X than them. They might use X in such a way to gain an advantage over you, possibly without you even knowing it or being able to do anything about it. In a dog-eat-dog natural world, I'd say it makes sense for our brains to be programmed to make us feel threatened and on guard.

The only defense against being outsmarted, if you're not up to mental snuff, is to be wary of those who are.

You're kinda scared of the dude who can bench 300 pounds, right?
posted by 3FLryan at 7:16 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


all I can think of is how many times daily this guy would have had his ass kicked at any given US high school

Ahem.
I think the lesson we've all learned is that the "tough guy" persona doesn't come across very well in textual mediums.
posted by 235w103 at 7:21 AM on February 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


You talkin' to me, punk?
posted by brain_drain at 7:26 AM on February 24, 2009


And yet, until the last 10 minutes she hardly answered a question! The only reason Corpus Christie were still in it, against a very impressive Manchester team, was mainly down to Schwartzman. True though, in the first three rounds, and in the last 10 minutes of the final, she was phenomenal.

I genuinely don't understand this antipathy towards Gail Trimble. She's good looking and smart and didn't come across as arrogant at all. What does it say about the population of Britain that a racist, thick, vacuous media-whore like Jade Goody captures the heart of a nation? (And no, I'm not going to tone down my words on account of her terminal illness.) We live in an age where talent is derided and knowledge is sneered upon. Society is doomed.

And Pastabagel, what an utter tit you are.
posted by salmacis at 7:27 AM on February 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


She didn't single handedly trounce anyone. Sure, she answered around 60% of the questions for her team, but that's hardly single handidly. Anyway, as a graduate of Manchester, I've been rooting for them for the whole tournament. So Corpus Christi have my wrath over that, rather than any perceived snobbyness.
posted by Pod at 7:30 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


British men like the author of that tvscoop.tv article need to be let in on a secret: when British men try to act like average-joe 'cool' tough guys, it's laughable to Americans. They do, sophisticated, classy, ironic, haughty, imperial, etc brilliant, but not street tough.

Visit pubs in North Manchester, and share this fascinating premise with the sissies there. And as you're leaving, shout "Liverpool!" They'll be amazed at your American cleverness.
posted by terranova at 7:41 AM on February 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


Men who've got problems with women who are smarter, cleverer, probably sexier, and more successful than they are can go run a current through their testicles and kill themselves.

I hate insecure men.
posted by kldickson at 7:42 AM on February 24, 2009


Just watched the youtube compilation/interview with her. She's absolutely adorable: modest, polite, down to earth and very smart. The (tabloid) press sucks.

Pastabagel said: British men like the author of that tvscoop.tv article need to be let in on a secret: when British men try to act like average-joe 'cool' tough guys, it's laughable to Americans.

Americans need to be let in on a secret: no one really cares what they think, let alone British men.
posted by schwa at 7:44 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


You guys really think she's good-looking? This sort of reminds me of when someone discovers a supermodel has a slightly above average IQ, and everyone decides she's a genius. Same thing, in reverse.
posted by Evangeline at 7:47 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pastabagel, you might want to get your knowledge of British males from something more than just the films of Hugh Grant.
posted by ciderwoman at 7:47 AM on February 24, 2009 [8 favorites]


I've got absolutely zero pity for anti-intellectuals. It's just about the most embarrassing, counter-productive impulse a person can have. Yes, I can understand what it feels like to be threatened by someone being "more X" than you (nicely put, 3FLyran) - I feel it every day when I go to school and see how much younger and more attractive my classmates are. However, when it comes to braininess, this fear response makes zero sense.

I can't age myself backwards to compete w/ my classmates, but I can sure as hell find out how they know the things they know if I find they know a lot more than I. The library is open for everyone. Knowledge and intelligence are expandable attributes. You don't think you know enough? Read some books and find some more stuff out! It's as simple as that! Going around trying to pull down academics just comes off as pathetic and sad.

One attains Trimble's level of knowledge through rigorous study and concentration, as well as the drive to improve themselves. These are all things that almost everyone can manage. As much as Trimble knows, I'd reckon that she doesn't think she knows enough. And that's the difference between people like her and people like the knuckle-dragger who wrote that shit-awful tvscoop piece. If you never stop reaching for excellence, it'll shame those without your courage and resolve into trying to tear you down - that's just the way it goes, I'm afraid. And it's too bad, cuz it ought to inspire folks to reach for excellence along with you.

Some aspects of yourself are beyond natural improvement. For instance, I'll never get my hair back w/o surgery or doing some chemical outrage to my scalp. A beautiful head of hair will never inspire me to grow mine back. But if someone's smarter than me, I can study until I'm smarter than them. Competition is a beautiful thing. I'm only scared of the guy who can bench 300 until I've done enough lifting to bench 350.
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:56 AM on February 24, 2009 [7 favorites]


Evangeline, hell yes! (Never really gone for the supermodel look, mind.)
posted by salmacis at 7:59 AM on February 24, 2009


Only in the UK!
Unfortunately, I'm being serious. I've only ever seen this level of viciously aggressive anti-intellectualism in the UK.

Also: The Sun. Wtf.
posted by flippant at 7:59 AM on February 24, 2009


Don't talk about her looks, her hotness, or judge her on things she can't control, for crissakes. Why can't an intelligent woman just be an intelligent person? And those who don't think the outpouring of vilfication isn't sexism as its most elemental (with a side of firestarting class hatred) are not paying attention.
posted by jokeefe at 8:03 AM on February 24, 2009 [13 favorites]


Rrrowl, intellectual women... She's the hotttt!
posted by IAmBroom at 8:05 AM on February 24, 2009


Don't shoot me, but I'm going to weigh in on her looks. She is not especially gorgeous in the competition but looks great in the interview. And the difference is makeup. She's wearing no makeup during the competition and quite a bit during the interview. Basically, this shows what most women know: the difference between pretty and plain is generally a matter of self-presentation, rather than innate good looks.

She seemed perfectly charming in the interview, but I'm American, and Americans default to seeing Britons as charming.
posted by craichead at 8:08 AM on February 24, 2009


Just here to join the pointing and laughing at Pastabagel :D
posted by Abiezer at 8:09 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pastabagel - I would personally be delighted if all British men were in fact soft sissies. Unfortunately, round where I live (North London), they have a habit of stabbing and shooting each other.

I'm an intelligent (well, degree educated) woman and I instinctively hated her. It's the smugness. No one likes a show off, and I don't think that's a British thing, I think that's a human nature thing. It's unfair, but true.
posted by Summer at 8:13 AM on February 24, 2009


To all the men who are saying 'wow, intelligent women, rawwrrr' - where are you in real life?
posted by Summer at 8:15 AM on February 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


"Yes! Rachel Maddow."

She's great, although the cutesy stuff is a bit off-putting, like "Scrub, Rinse, Repeat" with the stupid graphics. She has a tendency to baby talk, and I personally find it grating, though she really is the best talking head on cable news at this point, so I'll put up with it.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:15 AM on February 24, 2009


Yes, but jokeefe, why should she be just an intelligent woman? Why can't she be intelligent and good looking? It's not sexist is complement a woman on her looks. (I'd comment on other aspects of her personality too, but for the fact I don't know her.)

Like it or not, society values good looking people, male and female. Studies have shown that people rated highly for attractiveness are more successful in life, and earn more. Maybe it's sad that us humans are as shallow as peacocks when it comes to looks, but that's the way things are.
posted by salmacis at 8:16 AM on February 24, 2009


Can someone explain the arithmetic to me? According to the Guardian article, she won her place at Oxford in 2000. According to the Oxford Faculty bio, she's doing a 4 year degree. So how, exactly, is she still at Corpus Christi as an undergraduate in 2009?
posted by weebil at 8:17 AM on February 24, 2009


I think she's a grad student. Didn't she say in the interview that she's nearly finished her PhD?
posted by craichead at 8:19 AM on February 24, 2009


She's doing a doctorate. She's 26.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:19 AM on February 24, 2009


You guys really think she's good-looking?

If a person finds intelligence beautiful, that which is intelligent will be beautiful to them. (And she's pretty nice-looking even discounting her brilliance.)

Why can't an intelligent woman just be an intelligent person?

It isn't exclusive to women, is it? If an appealing appearance didn't provide some benefit even in fields where appearance would be of seemingly no value, I doubt Niall Ferguson would have had as successful a career as he's had. (Most write-ups about him that I've read have mentioned his intelligence, erudition and handsomeness all in the same breath.)
posted by Makoto at 8:20 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I didn't get a whiff of smugness from her, Summer, and I'm degree educated and live in North London too. I just detected eau de geek with a hint of social ineptitude.
posted by ciderwoman at 8:23 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't talk about her looks, her hotness, or judge her on things she can't control, for crissakes. Why can't an intelligent woman just be an intelligent person?

Of course she can "just be an intelligent person". And to be clear, I think intelligence is sexy.

It just amuses me when people are so impressed with a seeming dichotomy (in this case, sadly, intelligence and attractiveness), that they go a bit overboard. She's very smart and she's not hideously ugly does not equal "she's hot".
posted by Evangeline at 8:24 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, ok, Makoto, but the difference is that a man's appearance becomes a subject of discussion if there's something especially notable about it, whereas a woman's appearance is very important no matter what. If Gail Trimble were a guy who rated exactly the same on the hotness scale as she does, I don't think people would be discussing his appearance. At least, it wouldn't be as important a part of the discussion as it seems to be about Trimble.
posted by craichead at 8:27 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


I watched one of her performances and the emotive range of her hair flicking was stunning. Pride, arrogance, disappointment, disdain - she dispenses with a flick what some people fail to do with their entire bodies. At risk of objectifying her by mane rather than brain, it made me swoon a little (although that sun photo does her zero favours).

Also Pastabagel, I do find your take on British men to be a bit all over the place, eg Jason Statham as gentleman?
posted by doobiedoo at 8:27 AM on February 24, 2009


salmacis, I think the point is not that the two things are in any way an either/or option, but rather that if it were a fella of equal attractiveness who had won the competition is such a manner, his looks would not have even been alluded to.

Summer, I didn't find her smug at all. And enough Britons like watching showing-off that Premiership celebrations are becoming complexly choreographed with no outcry whatsoever - just Youtube search for 'football goal celebrations.'
posted by Cantdosleepy at 8:28 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


it's important to note that what they are doing is no different to the Times or the Guardian. They all traffic certain positions

Different positions are of differing worth.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:29 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Summer, I didn't find her smug at all. And enough Britons like watching showing-off that Premiership celebrations are becoming complexly choreographed with no outcry whatsoever - just Youtube search for 'football goal celebrations.'

That's entirely different. Football crowds identify with their teams to such an extent they see themselves out there celebrating.

I didn't get a whiff of smugness from her, Summer, and I'm degree educated and live in North London too. I just detected eau de geek with a hint of social ineptitude.

To be honest, I didn't pay her that much attention (as I could sense impending tabloid hype-storm and I don't like that sort of thing). It's presumed smugness. I didn't say I was right.
posted by Summer at 8:35 AM on February 24, 2009


They would love her if she was drop dead gorgeous, I think. Would anyone like Ken Jennings if he had been a complete jerk, instead of an affable-seeming guy?
posted by anniecat at 8:36 AM on February 24, 2009


Also, although I am completely smacking my hand against forehead in national penance, if the worst thing that happens in the UK is alternating between gobby mouths and wrist wringing over a pretty scholar in a game show we're doing OK.
posted by doobiedoo at 8:38 AM on February 24, 2009


The introduction of sexism to this makes it interesting. People commenting on how attractive she is etc. That this exists on the internet doesn't surprise me given the web demographic, but it is disappointing to see it in the media (Nuts excluded - they are the internet of media).

I'm not sure the media would have been much different if she had been male, the classist, anti-intelligence lines would have existed and the tabloids would have focused on his snobbish upbringing

Take the internet frenzy of "she's hot" with a pinch of arsenic, Evangeline is right with the smart supermodel comments

But surely a better measure of anyones worth is whether you could be mates with them(not mate with them) and I think I'd be quite happy to be her friend - so good luck to her.

Oh and here(u=) is an alternative take on objectification, just for fun.
posted by fistynuts at 8:38 AM on February 24, 2009


ROU_Xenophobe: Different positions are of differing worth.

Agree totally. It hurts that granny gets the Mail. It irritates me to even see someone on the tube reading a copy.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 8:40 AM on February 24, 2009


To all the men who are saying 'wow, intelligent women, rawwrrr' - where are you in real life?

In New Zealand. Married to one.

And enough Britons like watching showing-off that Premiership celebrations are becoming complexly choreographed with no outcry whatsoever

Yes, I hear only love for Ronaldo.
posted by rodgerd at 8:42 AM on February 24, 2009


Shut up AND tell you the answer?
posted by jet_silver at 8:48 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


So.... in a nutshell.... Some sleazy tabloid wrote a dumb story about a TV quiz show designed to increase sales. Do I have that right?
posted by Ragma at 8:51 AM on February 24, 2009


That's "Rick" with a silent P.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:55 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


That Daily Mail article touches upon one reason why an Average Jane might garner much more public appreciation than an Astonishing Jane:

"You can see how much easier it is to take Jade Goody for your role model ahead of Gail Trimble. If you know nothing, and see someone getting rich and famous precisely for that reason, you are instantly validated."

Jade Goody is the lottery: anyone might effortlessly rise to fame and fortune.* Gail Trimble is the Olympics: natural gifts coupled with Herculean work efforts. Many people loathe individuals who exhibit what they can never achieve or can't bother attempting to achieve.

*Sadly, Jane Goody's present health crisis reveals the dark side of this lottery-fantasy: catastrophe strikes anyone, anytime.
posted by terranova at 8:55 AM on February 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


I've got a Porsche.
posted by dydecker at 8:56 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


To all the men who are saying 'wow, intelligent women, rawwrrr' - where are you in real life?

Grooming our larynxes for the monthly mating calls, natch.
posted by doobiedoo at 8:58 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


No, doobiedoo, we're wondering where are all the women who like nerds!
posted by salmacis at 9:04 AM on February 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


I will now use my superior intellect to deduce that Summer will receive some faux-innocuous MeMails.

"So, I was thinking we should have another London meet up. I'm in Philly, myself, but I love to travel. I also have dark hair, an athletic physique, piercing green eyes and a taste for danger and mystery."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:06 AM on February 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


All of this crap is just proof that tabloids are nothing more than blogs with big staffs and lots of advertising dollars (or...soon to be not so many advertising dollars).
posted by spicynuts at 9:07 AM on February 24, 2009


No, doobiedoo, we're wondering where are all the women who like nerds!

Yes, ours is a very sad call
posted by doobiedoo at 9:09 AM on February 24, 2009


I will now use my superior intellect to deduce that Summer will receive some faux-innocuous MeMails.

"So, I was thinking we should have another London meet up. I'm in Philly, myself, but I love to travel. I also have dark hair, an athletic physique, piercing green eyes and a taste for danger and mystery."


Well, I like to think I'm intelligent but I would totally fall for that.
posted by Summer at 9:10 AM on February 24, 2009


Who wouldn't? Throw in the ability to cook and a willingness to watch any movie suggested and you have the template for Boyfriend.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:13 AM on February 24, 2009


We're all at clubs or activities that don't centre around drinking, gambling or watching sports. It's just that these sorts of places don't have neon signs and aren't generally located on busy street corners. Or, you know, we've got jobs, hobbies and/or married and are pretty busy doing the got-a-life thing.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:14 AM on February 24, 2009


I didn't see the smug angle at all. When she was in the pub watching the quiz with her friends she seemed very shy and self-effacing when the crowd was cheering at her answer questions.

Of course now I'm over-analysing her. The truth is - she kicked butt. Good for her.
posted by schwa at 9:19 AM on February 24, 2009


You know not all British men are Stephen Fry, right?
posted by mippy at 9:23 AM on February 24, 2009


Well, we all learned today that MSTPT could pull even when he's clearly Making An Ironic Point.
posted by Spatch at 9:23 AM on February 24, 2009


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCj4wjV-oqM
Wow, check out how smug and aloof she is. Boy I hate her, what a bitch.


Still, she does speak a bit "posher" than I do, and has nicer hair than I do....but I can't see the hate.
posted by Pod at 9:33 AM on February 24, 2009


You know not all British men are Stephen Fry, right?

The rest of them are more like Edmund Blackadder
posted by dng at 9:37 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


As an inhabitant of Manchester and alumnus of its University (and onetime TV quiz contestant - not UC sadly) I was naturally cheering the other side on last night.

What amazes me about this whole thing and the way it seems to have exploded as a media story is the degree to which people seem be treating Trimble as a unique phenomenon while ignoring that there have been other very good players of both genders both in this and previous series. Matthew Yeo, Manchester's captain, was excellent in previous rounds and in the final. CCO had previously eliminated Exeter, whose Katy Limmer had been dominant for them in the prior round. The 2007 series had a couple of very good women that I can remember in Aberystwyth's Josephine Nevill and Warwick's Daisy Christodoulou. And so on.
posted by Electric Dragon at 9:40 AM on February 24, 2009


Sorry Summer but I only date incredibly smug bluestockings that will belittle my ambitions, flip their ratty hippie mane and crush my will under their size 9 clogs.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:42 AM on February 24, 2009


She doesn't seem smug at all. I find the growing tide (and I think it's been growing for quite a while now) of anti-intellectualism in Britain quite sad. There's been a brain-drain from the UK for years, and whilst this has been due mostly to financial reasons (US universities having so much more money for research etc.) I would hate to think that inverted snobbery would exacerbate this.
posted by ob at 9:47 AM on February 24, 2009


British men like the author of that tvscoop.tv article need to be let in on a secret: when British men try to act like average-joe 'cool' tough guys, it's laughable to Americans. They do, sophisticated, classy, ironic, haughty, imperial, etc brilliant, but not street tough.I don't know why that is, maybe it's that the level of macho in tough guys in the US (real or imagined), given it's ethnic mixture is astronomically higher than that in the UK.

What the fuck are you talking about? Really? I'm curious, have you actually ever been to the UK?

A piece of advice: if you do go to the UK and a gentleman, in a local hostelry for example, overhears your comments and ambles over to inquire as to whether or not you'd like a "Glasgow kiss", say no, even if you do find him sophisticated, classy, ironic, haughty, imperial and/or brilliant. You'll thank me son.
posted by ob at 9:55 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


No, doobiedoo, we're wondering where are all the women who like nerds!

We are in downtown Manhattan. Hi.

This whole thing, while I realize it's mostly a manufactured story, makes me sad because I always found the UK to be much more accepting, in a mainstream way, of the nerdy boffin type. I used to sit around with my flatmates every afternoon watching Fifteen to One and yelling answers at the screen- and these were hockey-playing jock boys. Most of the people I knew over there (and this is of course a generalization) seemed much more into the whole general-knowledge trivia thing. Every single pub in our town had a weekly pub quiz and people from every social circle participated and respected people who did well. I did find that the Brits I knew tended to look askance at anything that smacked of too much effort- ie, there's something distasteful about trying too hard or being too obvious about the fact that you actually care, but just happening to have a head chock full of facts was something to be admired rather than mocked.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 9:57 AM on February 24, 2009


Not all Brits are gentlemen
posted by dydecker at 10:02 AM on February 24, 2009


Arrgh... I know by now that I shouldn't click on any link to an article in The Sun or the Daily Mail... and yet, I still do it.

Pastabagel, once you've left the A&E in Manchester, I'd like to extend an invitation to you to come to Barnsley or Wakefield. You can then explain to my husband and his friends and coworkers about how they are all a bunch of ladyboys. I'll help you pick up your teeth, don't worry.

I don't read this as anti-intellectualism, I read it as sexism.
posted by Grrlscout at 10:06 AM on February 24, 2009


Not all Brits are gentlemen
Better clip for you
posted by Abiezer at 10:09 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't read this as anti-intellectualism, I read it as sexism.
I don't think it's an either/or. I think it's a toxic combination of the two.
posted by craichead at 10:10 AM on February 24, 2009


Unfortunately, round where I live (North London), they have a habit of stabbing and shooting each other.

I've never actually met a British person, but my guess is that they would be much more polite than Americans in the same situations. For example:

Two British men pass each other on a foggy London evening.

BritishMan1: 'Ello guvna!

BritishMan2: 'Ello 'Ello!

BritishMan1 produces a large knife.

BritishMan2: What's all this then?

BritishMan1 stabs BritishMan2.

BritishMan2: Cor blimey! Are you barmy? You stabbed me in me bloody abdomen.

BritishMan1: Bob's your uncle.

BritishMan2: Toodle pip, cheerio!
posted by burnmp3s at 10:22 AM on February 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


Yes, burnmp3s, that's exactly what it's like.
posted by Summer at 10:26 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hmmm... burnmp3s, I'm reminded of Raffles, the gentleman thug.
posted by ob at 10:27 AM on February 24, 2009


burnmp3s, are you Dick Van Dyke?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:30 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


burnmp3s, are you Dick Van Dyke?

Nah, his cockney accent's too good.
posted by ob at 10:35 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


My impressions of British men came from Monty Python, the Young Ones, and Disney. So imagine the education I got when I visited a friend in Peckham. That was one eye-opening week.

I loved Peckham, though, to be honest, even though I was nearly struck and killed a few times trying to cross the street for not looking in the right direction before stepping off the curb. My favorite part of the visit, yes, even more so than pizza shops that offered peas, corn, mashed potatoes and egg as toppings, was one afternoon when my friend handed me a little orange piece of plastic and a 20 pound note.
"Go down to the corner store and buy some electricity" he told me.
I hestitated.
"Look, it's really simple." he said "Just ask the guy at the counter for electricity. Can you do that?"
I agreed, half-convinced this was some elaborate foreigner initiation or something. But I went to the store, handed the guy at the corner my little orange piece of plastic and the 20 pound note and asked for "electricity". He nodded, wiped the plastic thingy through a little machine, and handed it back to me. I looked at the little orange piece of plastic.
"So ... I have ... electricity now?"
He nodded. "20 pounds worth anyway. Should last you."
I didn't want to seem totally clueless, so I just nodded and left. When I got home, I handed the orange plastic thing back to my friend.
"Here you go. Electricity. 20 pounds worth." I didn't know what the hell I was talking about, and felt a bit like I was on Punk'd if it was directed by Eugene Ionesco.
My friend took the orange plastic thing from me and went to the hall. He opened a little door in the wall, revealing a set of power meters, and stuck the little orange thing into one of the power meters.
I was amazed. Pre-paid electricity?! This was the best idea ever. Although I can see where a person would run into problems if they lose track of how much electricity they had left. Maybe coin-fed power meters are the answer.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:57 AM on February 24, 2009 [9 favorites]


My memory could be faulty, but I seem to remember reading something about Corpus Christi administering severe beatings to several of their opponents during their path to the championship. One of the matches even involved the second-lowest score ever. The thrust of the article was that CC -- and Ms. Trimble in particular -- did not let up even when there was no chance of the other team rallying. Could part of the antipathy currently being displayed towards Ms. Trimble be a reaction to perceived bullying or a lack of winner's grace?

I'm not familiar with this TV show, but I'm intrigued about its popularity in the UK. Say what you will about a rising tide of British anti-intellectualism, but keep in mind that GE College Bowl isn't exactly a Sweeps Week star in the US. I've got to give a nod of respect to the British if an appreciable amount of them spend their leisure time watching a show like this.

As for the discussion about relative macho rankings in the English-speaking world: Vinnie Jones got beat up in South Dakota. I mean, c'mon -- South Dakota? And it was in Sioux Falls, which is in the effeminate part of the state. (Yes, I'm from West River -- why do you ask?) If you're going to keep the British end up after that, you'll have to kick Kobe Bryant's ass or something.
posted by joaquim at 11:12 AM on February 24, 2009


You guys really think she's good-looking? This sort of reminds me of when someone discovers a supermodel has a slightly above average IQ, and everyone decides she's a genius. Same thing, in reverse.

Of course she can "just be an intelligent person". And to be clear, I think intelligence is sexy.

It just amuses me when people are so impressed with a seeming dichotomy (in this case, sadly, intelligence and attractiveness), that they go a bit overboard. She's very smart and she's not hideously ugly does not equal "she's hot".


Evangeline, attractiveness is subjective. I wonder why you seem to feel compelled - or find it amusing - to put her in her place on some linear scale of attractiveness that you have. She's not hideously ugly does not equal "she's hot" - why did you feel like talking about another woman that way? So what do you care if other people find her hot?


Don't talk about her looks, her hotness, or judge her on things she can't control, for crissakes. Why can't an intelligent woman just be an intelligent person? And those who don't think the outpouring of vilfication isn't sexism as its most elemental (with a side of firestarting class hatred) are not paying attention.

At least in this thread so far, her looks have only really been mentioned lightly in passing - the most judgemental comment on her looks came from a woman. It seems to me to be more than just sexism - it's anti-intellectualism maybe, but more than that, it's about class. There's plenty of sexism in there too - but there's a lot about her accent, her "posh-ness", and her perceived privilege from studying at Oxford.

I hate insecure men.

It's not just men:

I'm an intelligent (well, degree educated) woman and I instinctively hated her. It's the smugness. No one likes a show off, and I don't think that's a British thing, I think that's a human nature thing. It's unfair, but true.

It'd probably be an interesting conversation if Summer is willing to look back with us and examine why she felt that way.
posted by Ira_ at 11:24 AM on February 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


joaquim, your comment makes absolutely no sense to me. Why on earth would a team ease up just because they are winning? It doesn't happen in any sport in the UK that I can think of - but for some unfathomable reason, it seems to be important in US sport. I think a team deliberately easing up like that is far more disrespectful to the opponents than going all out for the biggest win that you can get. If CC's opponents were outclassed enough to only score 15 points, then they got exactly what they deserved.

Bear in mind that University Challenge is shown on BBC2, so it's audience will be small compared to whatever is on BBC1 or ITV.
posted by salmacis at 11:25 AM on February 24, 2009


I was amazed. Pre-paid electricity?! This was the best idea ever. Although I can see where a person would run into problems if they lose track of how much electricity they had left. Maybe coin-fed power meters are the answer.

Oh, they thought of that. When you're down to £5, the power goes off and you have to manually turn it on again. That's your cue to hit the shops for some more. (I guess it would suck if you were halfway through working on an unsaved document, though - maybe they changed things, this was 10 years ago that I had pre-pay electricity).

Oh, and Gail Trimble is awesome, and I thought that well before this whole thing blew up.
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:33 AM on February 24, 2009


I wish there were no machines, and everyone led a pastoral existence, trees and flowers don't deliberately cool you out and go beep in your ear.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:33 AM on February 24, 2009


Knowledge and intelligence are expandable attributes. You don't think you know enough? Read some books and find some more stuff out! It's as simple as that!

I agree, but you have to bear in mind how fortunate you are to have got to learn that through your environment and upbringing - most people genuinely never get to know it. They never get to learn what they're capable of, or that they have a say.
posted by Ira_ at 11:46 AM on February 24, 2009


To all the men who are saying 'wow, intelligent women, rawwrrr' - where are you in real life?

Sorry -- I've already fallen for and married an intelligent woman, and am doting over her as she studies to be a scientist, is paralyzed by social anxiety, obsesses over arcane hobbies, and brutally argues over logical minutiae.

Wouldn't trade her for anything in the world.
posted by jake at 12:59 PM on February 24, 2009


Only in the UK!
Unfortunately, I'm being serious. I've only ever seen this level of viciously aggressive anti-intellectualism in the UK.


That'll never become a serious problem in America.
posted by terranova at 1:15 PM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


burnmp3s plainly doesn't know anything about Great England because he forgot to mention that both of his agonists are wearing top hats.

People, if you don't know, don't pretend to know.
posted by everichon at 1:16 PM on February 24, 2009


Evangeline, attractiveness is subjective. I wonder why you seem to feel compelled - or find it amusing - to put her in her place on some linear scale of attractiveness that you have.

Oh for heaven's sake - I certainly wasn't the first person to bring up her looks. In fact, I was just responding to comments about her appearance in this thread and in the links. I don't really give a flying fuck what she looks like, nor do I think it should matter. I was commenting on a particular phenomenon, which is that some people have a hard time reconciling attractiveness and intelligence in one person. So when they do find someone who has a little (or a lot) of both, they go overboard.

... most judgemental comment on her looks came from a woman.

I said I didn't think she was hot. Oooooo, I'm the anti-feminist.
posted by Evangeline at 1:16 PM on February 24, 2009


Unfortunately, I'm being serious. I've only ever seen this level of viciously aggressive anti-intellectualism in the UK.

I've never been to the UK for comparison, but it's rampant in the US. Particularly in public schools (thanks to which, my childhood SUCKED ASS), but it doesn't go away at adulthood either. See also: 2008 Republican presidential campaign.
posted by Foosnark at 1:28 PM on February 24, 2009


So why are so many adults so resentful and suspicious of people who are smarter or more educated than them?

Because they assume that the people they are hating look down on them, and at the same time they are afraid that the people they hate don't even care that they exist. Having someone hate you because you're not as smart as they are is bad, but having them not even realise you're alive is apparently much worse.
posted by winna at 1:28 PM on February 24, 2009


I am simultaneously relieved and terrified to see that anti-intellectualism is not exclusive to the US.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:26 PM on February 24, 2009


Women: know your limits.
posted by supercrayon at 4:00 PM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


"You guys really think she's good-looking? This sort of reminds me of when someone discovers a supermodel has a slightly above average IQ, and everyone decides she's a genius. Same thing, in reverse."
Evangeline (and Ziggy Zaga and anniecat, who marked your snipe as a favorite, can you please point out the comments before yours where any Mefite said she was good-looking? We've commented on her being hot, which is about attraction, and not just the physical kind.

It's in no way similar to your paradigm of a slightly-above-average-intelligence supermodel. This girl has something - intellect - that I, and several others on this list, find sexy. Period. If she's good looking, so much the better. But if her picture would rate a 3/10 from me, after talking to her for a while she'd be a 4, or 5, or... Or someone I was calling for a date.

Now, answer this: what's with women belittling other women's looks? Does that make you feel more secure in your self-image?
posted by IAmBroom at 4:49 PM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh for heaven's sake - I certainly wasn't the first person to bring up her looks. In fact, I was just responding to comments about her appearance in this thread and in the links. I don't really give a flying fuck what she looks like, nor do I think it should matter. I was commenting on a particular phenomenon, which is that some people have a hard time reconciling attractiveness and intelligence in one person. So when they do find someone who has a little (or a lot) of both, they go overboard.

As far as I can see, while people did say they were attracted to her (which is different from talking about her looks), or attracted to intelligent women in general, you were the second person in the thread to actually bring up her looks. (And the person who did before you really only mentioned it in passing.) Then you said, You guys really think she's good-looking? As if you couldn't see it - after which you gave a reason for why you think people were saying she was attractive: This sort of reminds me of when someone discovers a supermodel has a slightly above average IQ, and everyone decides she's a genius. Same thing, in reverse. So correct me if I'm wrong, but you were saying that she has slightly above average looks, and everyone is so surprised to see that in an intelligent person that everyone decides she's way more attractive than she is.

Then you said, It just amuses me when people are so impressed with a seeming dichotomy (in this case, sadly, intelligence and attractiveness), that they go a bit overboard. She's very smart and she's not hideously ugly does not equal "she's hot". No one, as far as I can see, expressed any hint of surprise that someone could be attractive and intelligent. Most comments were actually saying they found intelligence attractive. It was all quite positive.

What I couldn't understand was your finding the idea of her being attractive so questionable that you had to ascribe it to people not being able to reconcile attractiveness and intelligence. I also couldn't understand the impulse to question people finding someone good-looking - I mean I can understand the reverse, if people were criticising her looks and you wanted to jump in to defend her and say that you actually find her attractive - but not that. Considering the pressures women are under about their looks and their attractiveness, why would you talk about another woman in the way you did, saying "she's not hideously ugly does not equal 'she's hot'"? Can you imagine the situation reversed and someone saying that about you? Say, some people made positive comments about your looks in a discussion, fairly mildly and in passing, and another woman jumped in to say, You guys really think she's good-looking? She's not hideously ugly does not equal "she's hot". Come on guys. This sort of reminds me of when someone discovers a supermodel has a slightly above average IQ, and everyone decides she's a genius.
posted by Ira_ at 5:11 PM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does that make you feel more secure in your self-image?

Where the hell are you coming up with this shit? All I'm guilty of is trying to point out that some people are reacting to a stereotype of what a smart girl "should" look like. She doesn't fit that mold, so they go all gaga.

And please notice that I ASKED a question. The question was "You guys really think she's good-looking?" I didn't accuse anyone in this thread of making any particular comment (although I believe there are a couple of comments about her being "pretty" or "good-looking".) I was really thinking more of the comments from this link.

Did I EVER say she was ugly? I only implied that I, personally, do not think she's hot. As someone kindly pointed out to me a little further up, attractiveness is subjective. Why can I not express my subjective opinion about a woman without being accused of trying to undermine the sisterhood?
posted by Evangeline at 5:17 PM on February 24, 2009


No one, as far as I can see, expressed any hint of surprise that someone could be attractive and intelligent. Most comments were actually saying they found intelligence attractive. It was all quite positive.

Read the links. Again, I never accused anyone in this thread of anything at all, but if you look at the comments in some of the links, maybe you'll see what I'm talking about.

Considering the pressures women are under about their looks and their attractiveness, why would you talk about another woman in the way you did, saying "she's not hideously ugly does not equal 'she's hot'"? Can you imagine the situation reversed and someone saying that about you?

If some stranger on the internet doesn't find me "hot", I'm not going to get too bent out of shape. And I'm betting Gail Trimble has more important things to think about too.
posted by Evangeline at 5:31 PM on February 24, 2009


I'm sure all the famous women that jokeefe and others in previous metatalk threads have tried to defend from judgements and critiques of their looks wouldn't get too bent out of shape and have more important things to think about too. So why do jokeefe and others bother, right?

You didn't just express your subjective opinion of her looks - you questioned the basis of other people's subjective opinion, and expressed your belief that it was solely because people were "so impressed with a seeming dichotomy (in this case, sadly, intelligence and attractiveness), that they go a bit overboard."

Maybe people just find her attractive, y'know? She may not be the fashionable or media-sanctioned kind of hot - but clearly plenty of people find her attractive. Is this not a good thing for women? Does it not let women know that what's considered attractive in a woman is not in fact as narrow as the media and much of society portray it to be?

But your reaction was to question the possibility of it - to say Hey you guys, you don't really think she's good-looking do you? I mean, she's not hideously ugly, but come on. It was as if she got something she didn't deserve, and you wanted to take it away.

People found her attractive - whether it's a kind of less conventional attractiveness or because of her intelligence or her knowledge or her achievements or whatever, it lessens the pressure on women just that little bit - it's another piece of evidence showing that women don't have to chase that narrow definition of beauty to be found attractive. But you seemed to find it so unbelievable that you questioned people's basis for finding her attractive, as if you knew better than them why they really felt that way - it was just because she didn't fit the mold of what a smart girl "should" look like, so they all went gaga. It wasn't her at all.

Does that help the feminist cause? Does that kind of judgement of other women's looks help women, make it a better world for women to live in?
posted by Ira_ at 7:07 PM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know what's really, unattractive, Ira_? I mean, really, REALLY unattractive? Your judgmental attitude. Yes, that's right - YOUR judgmental attitude. You've already stood up on your soapbox and now you're picking apart my words to justify your cause. You're reading something into an innocuous comment that I never intended, and I think you know that, but you can't give up.

This is the last time I'm going to try and defend myself. If you really must continue chastising for what you belief is my slight against womankind, then memail me. I can't promise I'll read it, but maybe it will make you feel better to get a few more things off your chest.

So maybe this little anecdote will help: I dated a guy in high school. He wasn't handsome by conventional standards, but he was super smart, which I found sexy (oh, look at that - maybe I'm not so shallow after all!) Anyway, we went to a party, and I found out later that one of his friends said I was pretty cute "for Walter" - meaning that considering Walter wasn't handsome, I was cuter than could be expected. This is what I hate, and whether you want to believe it or not, this does happen. And if you read through some of the comments in the links, you'd recognize it too. I didn't accuse anyone in this thread. I asked a question. Did it ever occur to you that it wasn't rhetorical? No, it didn't, because you were looking for something to latch onto.

Yes, I'm sure people find her genuinely attractive. But the fact that you're still arguing about this point is more sexist than anything I've said. I made an offhand comment - you've spent a lot more time talking about her attractiveness than I have.

Does that help the feminist cause?

I think you've got that covered, don't you?
posted by Evangeline at 7:36 PM on February 24, 2009


Does that kind of judgement of other women's looks help women, make it a better world for women to live in?

The thing is that we....

Okay, I'll start over. I won't say "we," because I can't know for sure what goes on in anyone's head except my own. I'll say "I," knowing that I'm opening myself up to be called a sexist pig or whatever. All I can say in my defense is that no one who knows me in real life has accused me of that.

In any case, the simple truth is that I will always judge people by their bodies. I guess I could try to change, but I highly suspect that my tendency to judge this way is hard-wired into my brain. (One of the bodies I judge is my own, which I'd estimate to be a two on a scale of one to ten.)

If I'm right that my tendency is innate, then I have two options: be honest about it or hide it.

Yes, I can AND SHOULD try to look beyond it. If my knee-jerk reaction is that a man or woman is physically unattractive, I should try to look at him as a whole person. No, I should never tell someone to his face "you're ugly," because that's rude. But none of that changes the TRUTH that I judge people based on their bodies.

I've been told for years that good, liberal people don't do that.

I think that's bullshit. Or, trying not to go back on my word and universalize my pathology, I should say that THIS good, liberal person DOES judge people by their bodies. Maybe that means I'm not a good, liberal person? But as someone who consistently works to look beyond the physical, how am I supposed to stop myself from noticing the physical?

For years, I thought the answer was that though, naturally, I will always judge on appearances, it was my job as a good person to pretend that I didn't and to chastise anyone who was honest enough to admit that they did. For the good of society, we need to all keep these feelings in the closet.

I no longer believe this. I now believe that the two biggest cultural problems we face -- gender and racial prejudice -- will NEVER be solved by silencing. Silencing even of the "rude" stuff makes things worse. Feelings get pent up and express themselves in all sorts of perverse ways. It's deeply unhealthy.

In my view, the right-wing approach to these problems is to embrace them as non-problems. That's terrible. The left-wing approach is to suppress human nature. That's equally terrible.

Evangeline expressed an opinion that the woman was un-hot because that's what people do: they discuss each other's looks. Most people I know do it. Some do it in private; some do it in public. But they do it. We need a solution to sexism that doesn't make people feel like evil demons for doing this. Because a solution that DOES make people feel like evil demons will not work.

Oh, and a woman has NO special responsibilities towards other women that a man doesn't have. If you think a woman does, then you're sexist.
posted by grumblebee at 7:42 PM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pre-paid electricity?! This was the best idea ever. Although I can see where a person would run into problems if they lose track of how much electricity they had left. Maybe coin-fed power meters are the answer.
Just in case I'm not the only one who can't tell if that's sarcastic or not, these things are what replaced coin-fed power meters when the Leccy Board decided to sack all the people whose job it was to collect the money.

<>
posted by genghis at 8:23 PM on February 24, 2009


Evangeline: I really, genuinely tried very hard to engage in a discussion with you. I did not call you names, did you insult you, did not claim to know your intentions - I tried to talk solely about what you said. I did not mean to make it personal, or any kind of attack on you. But to me, saying someone is not hideously ugly, that does not mean they're hot is shitty. Some of the other things you said I felt were shitty. Note that I did not call what you said shitty at any point until now - because I wanted to have a civil discussion with you. I did not call you shallow. I did not call you anything, in fact - I do not know this, I do not think this, because I don't know you. I never thought your question was rhetorical. I don't want anything to latch onto. I have no soapbox, no cause, no ill intentions towards you, no reason to attack you, no intention to pick apart your words or to make it personal. I reacted to a couple of comments you made that I felt were not helpful - it's not a condemnation of your person. But clearly there's no discussion here - so I'll stop there.

Grumblebee: No, I should never tell someone to his face "you're ugly," because that's rude. But none of that changes the TRUTH that I judge people based on their bodies.

No, I don't think you shouldn't tell that to someone's face because it's rude - I think you shouldn't because it has an impact on the person.

I'll repeat to you what I said to evangeline - I don't have a problem with her saying she doesn't personally find Gail Trimble hot. But she expressed the opinion that everyone who found Trimble that hot, who went gaga over the woman as she put it, did so only because Trimble looked slightly better than what they expected a smart woman to look like, and they were overly-impressed. She was amused by that. I found, and find, that opinion shitty and insulting. It is shitty and insulting to the people who found Trimble attractive - as if they don't know their own preferences and the reasoning for their own preferences. But most of all, it is shitty and insulting to Trimble - to say a woman is "not hideously ugly, that does not mean they're hot" is a shitty thing to say. This is my view. You may disagree.

Do I want people to suppress human nature and pretend looks don't matter? No - I don't even necessarily agree with jokeefe's comment above entirely, that people shouldn't mention her looks at all. It's something that people notice, and if one or two people mention it in passing as a minor footnote to her achievements and successes, I think it's okay. (However, bearing in mind how women are still judged on looks first and everything else second, I certainly wouldn't complain if people stopped talking about women's looks and focused on their personalities and achievements instead in these threads.)

It is my view that when women make open, critical judgements about each other's looks, it makes themselves feel shitty in the end - it comes back round to them, and makes it harder for all women. Because you judge yourself with the same harshness you judge other people by - you expect it from people, so you have to live up to it yourself. And it feeds into that environment where women are hyper-conscious about their looks and their bodies. I do not think all of it is human nature. I think it's unnecessary hurt we're causing, when we do this shit to each other. AGAIN: She did not just express her opinion of Trimble's attractiveness - she decided she could mind-read those people who found Trimble attractive, and decided she knew that they only found her so attractive because they had some fixed idea of what a smart person looked like, and Trimble was just above that.

No, a woman does not have special responsibilities towards other women that a man doesn't have. But a woman has to live under the same relentless social pressure about looks and attractiveness that other women do - I thought that would mean she would know what that's like, and not want to contribute to any sort of environment or culture where women's looks are judged that harshly.

Note that I never called either of you sexist, or evil demons, or bad people, or anything like that. I just objected to two small fucking comments. I actually have plenty of shit I should've been getting on with, so evangeline's mindreading that I somehow knew I was reading something she didn't intend, and knew that and wouldn't give up, like I have nothing better to do, is way fucking off base. I'm not even the only one who reacted to her comments - and I tried so damn hard to be respectful and civil and patient about it in my explanation and discussion. But what's the fucking point? I'm out.
posted by Ira_ at 9:22 PM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Verdict? Classically hot.

Warning: This Latin/Greek/Maths/English Lit Oxford scholar contains no implants, dyes, or surgical enhancements. Please view with caution.
posted by terranova at 9:39 PM on February 24, 2009


To all the men who are saying 'wow, intelligent women, rawwrrr' - where are you in real life?

They're all complaining that women don't want to date nice guys.
posted by Snyder at 10:54 PM on February 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm an intelligent (well, degree educated) woman and I instinctively hated her. It's the smugness. No one likes a show off, and I don't think that's a British thing, I think that's a human nature thing. It's unfair, but true.

It'd probably be an interesting conversation if Summer is willing to look back with us and examine why she felt that way.

Not sure if anyone's still interested, but for the record:

**btw what follows is based on my initial gut feelings, not reasoned thought.**

1. She's Oxbridge and it's traditional to hate the Oxbridge teams. The prejudice against Oxbridge people goes back a long long way and is based on the notion that only the upper middle classes/aristocracy go there and have been trained from birth to pass through Oxbridge on their way to the Establishment.

Only 60 - 70 years ago this was true - Oxbridge was largely the preserve of the rich and privately educated who went there due to privilege, not merit. We don't forget so easily.

This prejudice does not extend to other good unis - Edinburgh, Imperial College, Durham etc - because they don't have the same history. So, it's not purely anti-intellectualism, it's a class thing.

2. She looks really Oxbridge and that just compounds what was said above.

3. I don't believe broad general knowlege and the ability to answer questions quickly = intelligence. Knowing a lot indicates an interest in the world and an ability to assimilate information, but that's not the be all and end all of intelligence. If that were the case, every winning pub quiz team would be the intellectuals of their generation.

So I resented the hype machine being put in place around the best player in a glorified pub quiz. I know it's not her fault.

4. I'm allergic to hype.

I also firmly believe that anti-intellectualism is a common human trait based on the notion that highly educated people are privileged, smug and 'not like us'. This is usually expressed as - 'they may be clever but they have no common sense/can't get a girl/boyfriend/are ugly'. I would be surprised if a version of it is not found in every developed society in the world.
posted by Summer at 1:43 AM on February 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


I also firmly believe that anti-intellectualism is a common human trait
Stinking ninth category!
posted by Abiezer at 2:12 AM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh tsk Summer, calling UC a "glorified pub quiz" is a cheap shot. We should be proud shows like this still have a place on terrestrial TV, not belittling them. The morons have got enough programmes.
posted by ciderwoman at 3:06 AM on February 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


But I like pub quizzes. OK, I'll concede your point.
posted by Summer at 3:23 AM on February 25, 2009


I can't help but feel University Challenge would be much improved by copying a round from a pub quiz I used to do a few years back: a true/false round on whether a suggested film title is a genuine porn film title.
posted by salmacis at 3:43 AM on February 25, 2009


Thanks Summer, that's really helpful. As someone else said, her hair flipping habit (which probably was a nervous, self-conscious thing) probably amplified that as well.

The writer in the "smug" link essentially withdrew and apologised for most of what he said in his updates - most of the other comments I've seen have been supportive of Trimble, and I'm hopeful it's just the media doing its thing and blowing up the hype, and the hate from the hype and so on for something to write about.
posted by Ira_ at 4:13 AM on February 25, 2009


But a woman has to live under the same relentless social pressure about looks and attractiveness that other women do - I thought that would mean she would know what that's like, and not want to contribute to any sort of environment or culture where women's looks are judged that harshly.

Are you even reading my comments? Specifically, the story about being called "cute" only in terms of my relationship with a boy who wasn't considered attractive? Look, I've been called "the ugliest girl I've ever seen", "tar face", and I've been told I should wear a bag over my head, for starters. I managed to survive fine without a posse of women following me around to back me up like the guys in the Verizon commercial.

And how "harshly" exactly did I judge her? I said I didn't think she was hot. Christ almighty. In my opinion, some men are pinning their "sexy secretary" fantasies on her, and yes, I do find that a little funny.

I'm not even the only one who reacted to her comments - and I tried so damn hard to be respectful and civil and patient about it in my explanation and discussion.

What you see as "respectful and civil and patient" I see as "patronizing and pedantic". I don't appreciate being lectured on my "duties" towards other women.
posted by Evangeline at 5:31 AM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can't we all just go back to laughing at Pastabagel now?
posted by ciderwoman at 6:08 AM on February 25, 2009


"Sexy secretary" should read "sexy librarian". "Sexy secretaries" wear a slightly different costume, of course.
posted by Evangeline at 6:18 AM on February 25, 2009


I read your comments, and I read your story. I didn't call you or imply that you were shallow. That's why I didn't address your story - if anything, it makes me wonder even more why you'd make the comments you made. I was addressing those comments, and you made it an attack on your whole person. I also don't know where you quoted "duties" from. I did not lecture you on your duties - I attempted to appeal to what I assumed you have experienced in terms of criticisms and judgements and social pressure about looks as a woman. I feel, personally, that criticisms about women's looks contribute to that.

I regret losing my temper earlier. I also apologise for my wordiness - that's just my own problem with writing. I'll just copy something I wrote to grumblebee, and be on my way and stay out of the thread:

If she had said "Hey guys, do you really find her hot? I just don't see it." I would've had no problem and no reaction at all to her comment. It's the mindreading, and the sentiment that the only reason people could find this woman that attractive would be because of her theory that I objected to - it's a deeply insulting, and yes, shitty thing to say about a woman, or anyone.

I don't feel that is unreasonable, attacking or personal. We clearly disagree. Feel free to have your say to that, but let's stop it there.
posted by Ira_ at 6:21 AM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


ciderwoman: Yes, please.
posted by Ira_ at 6:23 AM on February 25, 2009


Evangeline: And how "harshly" exactly did I judge her? I said I didn't think she was hot. Christ almighty. In my opinion, some men are pinning their "sexy secretary" fantasies on her, and yes, I do find that a little funny.

Well... She's very smart and she's not hideously ugly does not equal "she's hot".

Maybe it's not how you intended it, but that reads as total mean girl. "Not hideously ugly" is totally harsh and vindictive, starting the spectrum at 'very ugly' or 'quite ugly'. It is hateful to other women to throw that in because someone else finds her attractive and you can't accept that it's for a reason other than that she's being overhyped aesthetically because she's super-smart. I'm sorry people have said shitty things to you, but I hope you've got a better outlet for dealing with that, and I find it hard to imagine that you can look at what you wrote about here and find a basis for self-righteousness.
posted by carbide at 6:27 AM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh for Pete's sake she's perfectly reasonable looking and nothing more, but the media is making her out to be Angelina Jolie because they are sexist pigs who don't know how to deal with a young woman who is simply clever. Or at least, plain cleverness isn't actually a story, so let's make her out to be, er, smug - whoops she's not that either -- how about...er - ok, we're bottom of the barrel now -- pretty? Cue idiotic column inches about Nuts magazine is offering her a centerfold spread.

Evangeline's comment was on the money, and you sir, Ira_ are irritating.
posted by dydecker at 6:51 AM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's not how you intended it, but that reads as total mean girl.

Take it however you will, but I'm not coming to this discussion from the perspective of one of the "popular" girls in high school. I never was one of those girls, and if you knew me (which obviously you don't, though that hasn't stopped you from making assumptions), you'd find that idea laughable. Plus, I'm forty. Those days are long behind me.

I don't find her attractive. I can believe that other people might find her attractive, but I think there were comments in some of the other links that made way too much of her attractiveness to an embarrassing degree. It's a "whip off the glasses, let down the hair" kind of cliche I find tiring. That is what I was commenting on.

If you think saying "I don't think she's hot" is the worst thing a woman can say about another woman, you and I have different priorities.

And accusing ME of self-righteousness? Wow.
posted by Evangeline at 8:53 AM on February 25, 2009


Maybe it's not how you intended it, but that reads as total mean girl.

To be honest, that's not how I read it. I understand Evangeline's point to be that some men become so dumbstruck when they encounter an intelligent woman who is passably attractive that her perceived physical beauty is accelerated, in much the same way that these same men become so dumbstruck when a physically very attractive woman who is well read that she's compared to the Vos Savant. Both of these reactions betray the belief that physical attractiveness and intelligence existing within the same body is a rarity, especially in a woman.

Now of course I appreciate and celebrate the senitment that intelligence by itself is attractive, and a more valuable quality than physical attractiveness, but I don't think Evangeline is being untowardly catty in pointing out a fairly benign fact with regards to how some men see intelligence and physical attractiveness as a rare duality in women.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:11 AM on February 25, 2009


... "the same way that these same men become so dumbstruck when they encounter a physically very attractive woman who is well read that she's compared to the Vos Savant", that is.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:13 AM on February 25, 2009


Just in case I'm not the only one who can't tell if that's sarcastic or not, these things are what replaced coin-fed power meters when the Leccy Board decided to sack all the people whose job it was to collect the money.

Wait a second. You mean they went FROM coin-fed meters TO the little orange plastic stick? That's just nuts. They should make new ones, with a debit card slot - stick in your card, punch in the amount of electricity you wish to purchase, and bam - clean and easy.

I should run for office in the UK. Giant anime festivals at least once a month in every municipality over 5,000 people, and debit-card-fed power meters in every home!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:26 AM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank you, Marisa SPT - you said it much better than I did. If I were as eloquent as you I might have avoided this nightmare.
posted by Evangeline at 9:30 AM on February 25, 2009


Not for some time have I been so angry at a complete stranger as I was with this Trimble character. Each answer was met with a smug-grin or a cocky smirk. - from the TVScoop article


Of course, in athletic competitions, when one wins a round, one is expected to bow one's head in humility, rend garments, and say, "not sure how I did that, actually."
posted by terranova at 9:31 AM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Both of these reactions betray the belief that physical attractiveness and intelligence existing within the same body is a rarity, especially in a woman.

Especially in a woman? Considering the amount of stereotypical nerd (self) mockery that goes on around here, that last bit seems less supportable. Intelligence is perhaps considered a more attractive trait for men than women (within the dominant ideology) but in our culture today (certainly American culture) we hardly expect intelligence and beauty (or athleticism) to coincide in males either.

As to whether or not the comments picked apart above were "shitty" or not--if they were, the shittiness can't be in the acutal assertion. It's kind of hard to argue against the following:

above average attractiveness != superWTFhot

so let's at least abandon that level of analysis.

As has been said a number of times, this is about the intersection of gender and class.

Maybe we can talk a little more about the class part, or how their interrelation in this episode is especially British? That is, if there's more to talk about.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:12 AM on February 25, 2009


Considering the amount of stereotypical nerd (self) mockery that goes on around here, that last bit seems less supportable. Intelligence is perhaps considered a more attractive trait for men than women (within the dominant ideology) but in our culture today (certainly American culture) we hardly expect intelligence and beauty (or athleticism) to coincide in males either.

For the record, I'm not talking about how things are in Metafilter. But when a guy is physically attractive and intelligent, women don't seem to lose their minds the way men do when they meet a physically attractive woman who's also a concert pianist.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:18 AM on February 25, 2009


I agree though that the class angle is far more interesting.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:19 AM on February 25, 2009


a physically attractive woman who's also a concert pianist.

Should I memail you now or later MStPT?

The class angle is certainly important for the tabloids - but knowing a number of oxbridge alumni, it's not exclusive - there are plenty of vanilla(non royal family) geeks there too. 'Class' has become 'network' and few would dispute the benefits of network in getting you where you want to go.

TerraNova has it right with the observation on validation

Many people loathe individuals who exhibit what they can never achieve or can't bother attempting to achieve.
posted by fistynuts at 12:31 PM on February 25, 2009


'Class' has become 'network' and few would dispute the benefits of network in getting you where you want to go.

Workers of the world, never mind.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:34 PM on February 25, 2009


As an Imperial graduate who is now at Manchester, there is probably some tribal anti-Oxbridge feeling in my dislike of Trimble. To me, the hair-flicking and little smiles came across as unbearably smug. I don't think this is anti-intellectualism - I'm geeky enough to have been on similar quiz teams, and it's her mannerisms rather than her intelligence that I dislike.

In the interviews I saw with her after the final, she was also rather graceless in not acknowledging the contribution of her teammates, not coming across as a particularly good winner. I think she's simply rather socially inept and geeky; traits which do not come across well on the screen.

I don't quite know why she has engendered such media coverage, as there have been impressive women competitors before. I seem to remember a similarly formidable Oxford college team captain a few years ago, who also won in the final.
posted by Jakob at 2:37 PM on February 25, 2009


Just come on the BBC news that Corpus Christi (Trimble's team) have been disqualified and the winner's trophy passed on to the runners up, Manchester. One of Christi's students (not Trimble) had actually graduated so should not have been in the final.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:19 AM on March 2, 2009


Yeah--I just read that. What a turnout. Might be worth a follow-up post to MetaTalk.
posted by NailsTheCat at 12:29 PM on March 2, 2009


I was amused by the Telegraph's take on it, chastising the BBC for yet again doing the right thing instead of the popular thing.

Might be worth a follow-up post to MetaTalk.

The thread is still open, there's no need for a MetaTalk post. Anyone who cares is already here.
posted by grouse at 9:35 PM on March 2, 2009


Do I get to score the last comment in the Trimble thread?

I met Gail in 2005, when her boyfriend (now fiancé) was in the cast of an opera I was directing. She came along to sing in the chorus. My first impression of her was "wow-- this could be the nicest person in the world." Since then, we've worked together another time or two, and my opinion of her loveliness remains undimmed. She is a very friendly person and generally a force for good in the Universe, and charges of smugness and snobbery from those who don't know her are completely misplaced.

It's a very odd thing, waking up to find that one's friend (not like we're super-close, but still) has become a sensation. I do think a lot of the "controversy" is press-manufactured: once you get past the "ZOMG one or two snarky things have been said on the web," the story you're left with is "ZOMG highest-scoring person ever on UC is a girl," which really isn't much of a story.

Reading this thread was really interesting, though; I enjoyed reading through the various discussions of anti-intellectualism and sexism. If these two aspects of British culture end up being examined more closely, then the media kerfuffle will have been worth it.
posted by Pallas Athena at 11:36 AM on March 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do I get to score the last comment in the Trimble thread?

I doubt it.
posted by grouse at 11:37 AM on March 8, 2009


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