Newsweek isn’t really my mag – I’m more of a Ms, Mother Jones, Yes! magazine reader, or would be if I didn’t have so much other stuff to read too – but I got a subscription as a gift, and it serves in lieu of conversation as my breakfast companion. Two articles of note this week:
- A great piece on why biology should be a general education requirement for everyone, by Sally Hoskins, a professor at the City College of New York. She writes, “Science isn’t old information pressed like crumbling fall leaves between the pages of forgotten books. It’s alive – growing and shifting and blossoming.”
- A more problematic piece called “Revenge of the Nerdette” about how women (“girls”) are reclaiming and transforming the moniker of nerd by being girly and “hot” while being smart and techy. The article does cite Annalee Newitz, co-editor of She’s Such a Geek, a book with a contribution by our esteemed Zuska, but the rest of the article leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I’m all over us problematizing gendered categories such as “nerd,” but I don’t like sexualizing (as well as infantilizing at the same time, an odd combination) women in order to do it. Are smart women (those profiled are undergrads and grad students at Tufts, huzzah!) less threatening if we call them “girls” and they show a lot of skin or wear pink high heels? I guess so – if they’re challenging one gender stereotype, at least they’re conforming to others. This all being said, I’m glad women feel like they can dress how they want, look “girly” and all; when I was in school (not that long ago!), it seemed to me that women tried to blend in in how they dressed rather than stand out (undergraduate engineering education is still 80% men, after all). I just challenge that now women are experiencing a simple choice for how to display themselves, and that they just happen to choose to do so in hegemonically feminine ways. Note that the photo of the women profiled portrays them as classically beautiful – light skin, long hair, wearing skirts. Note also the article doesn’t discuss race, even though all the women have pale skin and even though one student’s last name is “Sanchez.” An article of contradictions.
(Sorry the links don’t go to the whole article. I haven’t linked to Newsweek before – do the articles appear online after they’ve come out in print for a while, or are those links doomed to never being useful?)