Normally I think one should be a bit gentle with the young un’s, as they are still not fully formed and their thinking has not developed much complexity. They haven’t had a lot of experience; you have to give them time to grow into understanding.
But if they will go about writing screeds for rightwing publications, all bets are off.
Over at the Cornell American Online, Rachel Brenc, a first-year student in engineering – oops, I mean, freshman – has written a little piece that ought to be titled Why There’s Nothing Wrong With White Male Domination Of Every Institution In Our Society As Long As I, Personally, Have Never Experienced Any Discrimination Of Which I Am Cognizant Because I’m Just Going To Quit Working As Soon As I Get Pregnant Even Though I Love My Engineering Classes And I Will Just Cross My Fingers And Trust God That My Husband Doesn’t Leave Me Or Die Or Get Disabled Or Laid Off Because I Think There Is No Discrimination Against Women And Those Ladies Who Wrote That NSF Report Are Just Whiners, Not Hard Workers (Who Know Their Place, In the Kitchen With The Babies) Like Me
Then, after the title, she could just substitute all the text with this:
Most women, except me, suck. Those stupid ladies who wrote that NSF report are castrating bitches who hate men and they can’t even handle producing an online report, I bet they aren’t even real scientists, they are just whiners. Everybody knows that everybody hates women and that a competent woman scientist is an oxymoron and hah hah it’s fun to make fun of women scientists hah hah hah. Except me. There’s no discrimination, there isn’t, la la la la la, I can’t hear you, I’ll read your report but I won’t believe the data, la la la la la, you can’t make me.
After the jump you’ll find the text of the comment I left on her online article.
To set this up, you need to know that Rachel is ostensibly offering a critique of the NSF report Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling The Potential Of Women In Academic Science And Engineering, and I need to include this quote from the article:
…these women [the authors of the report] want to have their cake, eat it, declare a gender bias because the icing is pink, and file a report on it too.
Here’s my comment to Rachel:
Perhaps Rosa Prigosen said it best when she said “This is an age of science…Science as a career for women is practically the same as it is for men. Although the supervision of scientific research is still largely in the hands of men, many of the actual experiments are done by women.”
Of course, she said it in 1916.
Rachel, you think the struggle for women’s access to science and engineering careers is something that took place – what? In the 1970s? Or last decade? And it’s all over and done with? Because you, a data point of one, have no personal stories of discrimination, in all your infinite wisdom of 18 or 19 years you conclude that you know more than the esteemed panelists of the NSF report who spent months gathering, compiling, and analyzing data? It’s great that you have not felt discriminated against so far – but you are very young. And studies show that discrimination against women increases as they move up the career ladder, so be forewarned.
If all it took was a panel’s imbalanced gender composition to invalidate the conclusions of the report it issues, then we cannot trust the results of nearly everything that is put forth from the NSF, the NIH, the government, industry, the medical establishment, you name it. Because by and large, most panels are dominated by men. No new information in the report? That’s what a compilation of data is – it compiles existing data. Welcome to report world. The report “strayed” from the topic of gender to deal with race? What, women are all of one race, so you don’t need to talk about race to deal with gender???? I can only conclude that you are white, because a non-white woman could hardly be expected to make such a silly kind of statement.
The more things change…Rachel, I still have a copy of a freshman composition essay I wrote in response to an article in the student newspaper on sexual harassment on campus. That couldn’t possibly be happening in 1980! I exclaimed. Discrimination is over! We burned our bras in the 1970s and all that. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Indeed, it’s depressing as hell to think that over 20 years later, things have not changed more than they have. I would not have imagined back then that progress would be so staggeringly slow. But I think I am in a better position than you are to evaluate the difference between then and now.
It is frightening to admit that there might be something to all this. To admit that there might be something that is going to affect your career that is completely outside of your control and that has nothing whatsoever to do with how talented and accomplished you are, that does not respect how hard or how long you work. It sucks. It is much more comforting to pretend that such things do not exist. In that sense, your near-hysterical sense of denial is completely understandable.
What is really sad, however, is the hatred of women and consequent self-loathing it implies that comes across so strongly in your article. You say that the women who wrote the report must hate young women like you, but you are the one who makes remarks like “it was reported that the lone man on the committee stumbled out of each meeting covered with whip marks and had to sprint to an emergency estrogen removal station to keep his testosterone level in check”. It would take a week to explain to you all the woman-hating packed into that one sentence: that women are a threat to men, that too-many women will emasculate a man, that women want to keep men pussy-whipped, that women want to control men, that women are, in general, evil. Or how about “Maybe if there were more men on the committee the incorporated technology would actually work”. Is that what you are going to tell your interviewers come job search time? That, in general, you can’t trust technology designed by women to function properly? Do you really believe such nonsense? Do you really hate yourself and other women so much?
You have exposed your own insecurities and self-loathing so pitilessly in this article, it makes me wince. You scoff at the reports focus on the difficulties for women of combining marriage, family, and a career that men don’t face – but you clearly recognize those difficulties for yourself. We don’t hear anything about your future hubby’s needs to stay home with the kids. Only how you’ll have to set aside your career once the kids come along, despite the fact that you do seem to love what you are doing right now very much (“excited about my two engineering math prelims”).
But you seem to be perfectly happy with your pink icing. Enjoy your cake, if it seems good to you. If all you want is cake, eat cake. Just don’t bitch at women who’d rather have something more nutritious.