Yesterday Sheril Kirschenbaum and Chris Mooney of the Intersection announced that they were leaving Scienceblogs in favor of new digs at Discover. Unfortunately, commenters on other blogs around those parts have been behaving badly on posts welcoming the new bloggers. It appears that it doesn’t matter how good a scientist and writer a blogger is, if she’s female, only her appearance matters. (One more reason I only show off my footwear.)
Physioprof has an excellent (and relatively profanity-free!) post up taking apart this behavior and explaining why it is not appropriate to make your first comment on the topic of a new blog about how saliva-worthy the author is.
Here’s part of what PP has to say:
It is not a “compliment”. It is a hamfisted exercise of male privilege, intended to send the message to Sheril that she has entered a male domain, and that her purpose there is to play an object role in the lurid fantasies of the men who occupy that male domain.
Update: Scicurious (of Neurotopia) provides an (even better?) analysis of the affair. Here’s how she sums it up:
Sure, you can tell a lady she’s good looking. But to do it when she’s standing up giving a scientific seminar, or when she’s writing a blog post on science policy? It’s not just out of context, it’s rude and sexist. And when we’re here, blogging to you about science, respect us (or not) for what we say. Not what we look like. You’d extend any man the same courtesy.