Not sure whether to be more irked that Razib suggests that smart women aren’t hot (and vice versa), that hot women don’t like sci fi, or than sci fi somehow denotes intelligence. Booooooooo.
While razib tells her to “focus on the science fiction part. not the intelligence,” I agree with Shelley’s later comment that who cares exactly whether he was talking about SciFi or intelligence–the idea that, because one is female and “hot,” one therefore cannot be a certain way or like a certain thing is just stupid. More annoyed ranting after the jump…
Now, I know in the grander scheme of things, a comment about the reading preferences of women at a wine bar is insignificant. What bothers me the most about this is that a fellow scienceblogger–who is surrounded by women who have *competed* at being nerdy, for crimeny’s sake–is surprised by an attractive woman who shows an interest in science fiction, and thinks that this is a rare enough event to comment on it. Have we made absolutely no progress? Is sci fi still a “boy thing,” while I should be more interested in Martha Stewart and Oprah? Is it just an anomaly for “hot” girls to read science fiction, or do science, or any “boy” thing you could name–but it’s OK and expected for lesser attractive women to do so? This would seem to be the case, as razib says later (describing his personal experience with women and scifi):
… i see the type of people who hang out in the SF sections in bookstores. not smokin’ chicas.
Maybe this is partly because “smokin’ chicas” can feel themselves being looked at as if they have two heads or something whenever they stop to browse the SF? Maybe this is partly because “smokin’ chicas” have internalized the stupid “girls do this, boys do that” stereotypes–and *especially* the “boys do that, pretty girls do this” version–that still permeate posts like razib’s?
To give in to a bit of a stereotype myself, I occasionally watch Grey’s Anatomy, a soap opera about young surgeons. One of them, an attractive blonde, worked through med school as a lingerie model, and still has trouble reconciling her physical attractiveness with her intelligence, because people assume that she’s a bubblehead based on her physical appearance. In one of the episodes, she says something along the lines of, “I know to most people I’m just a pretty girl,” when in fact she is also a smart, funny surgeon–something that most people will never realize. I’m no lingerie model, but even I get that sometimes too, and I’m sure many attractive women do as well–people wonder if they’re competent in their job for the sole reason that they’re also “smokin”. Indeed, one of my chemistry professors in college was an attractive, fairly young woman. She wore rather short skirts (not minis, but above the knee–scandalous!) and tall boots to class most days, and you can bet that her appearance generated as much buzz as her lectures. On top of this, she was the first female tenured faculty member in the physical sciences at Yale–not exactly a minor accomplishment. Yet some people simply couldn’t, or wouldn’t, get past the fact that she was young and hot–as if those qualities were somehow not able to be reconciled with her incredible scholarship. Why is still the attitudes of students–both male and female–at one of the top colleges in the country? Why is this the attitude of some posters and commenters here at Scienceblogs? Why do people continue to award intelligence points to the attractive man, but take them away from an equally attractive woman, even in educated circles where one surely knows good-looking, highly intelligent women with all kinds of different interests?
These are mostly rhetorical questions; I’ve done enough reading on stereotyping, gender, and intelligence to know some reasons why this still happens. But it still depresses the hell out of me to see it in my own backyard, so to speak.