Thus Spake Zuska

Scientiae May and June…

I missed contributing to the last Scientiae, which is up over at Flicka Mawa’s pad, and deals with Career Paths, Perspective, and Changing Self Image. Scientiae is always great; go and read.

I am the host of the June carnival, and finally got my call for posts up at Scientiae. The call is reproduced here after the jump. Posts aren’t due till June 6.

Hi folks, Zuska here. I suppose I should start with an apology for getting the next Scientiae topic out so late. But hey, the good news is you don’t have to turn in your submission until June 6!

The new topic is: Added Weight. “Huh?” I hear you saying. I’ve been thinking lately about how our culture encourages women to be excessively preoccupied with their weight. Taking up space in the world is a Bad Thing for women to do. We waste a lot of energy and time worrying about whether or not we are taking up too much space. A friend of mine sometimes lectures on this subject. She asks her students to consider the way women usually sit (legs together or crossed) and then the way that men usually sit (legs sprawled out and spread). She demonstrates each pose. Typically the students laugh, nervously or otherwise, when they see her demonstrate the male pose. She then asks them to consider that response: why are we made uncomfortable or nervous by a woman sitting that way? What is it about women taking up space?

How tired am I of that lady on the Nutrisystem commercial cooing “Look at me! I’m a size two!” just as proud as if she’d gotten a first-author Science paper? Tired beyond belief, I will tell you. In lieu of throwing something at the tv screen, I want to encourage us all to think about taking up space and having added weight in our lives in a positive way. Have you taken on a project in the past year that seemed like too much added weight to your life – but you made great progress on it, you got it done, you enjoyed the work and/or the results? In what ways have you taken up space in the past year – you gave your first paper at a major conference, got a grant funded, gave birth? Maybe you just gained a little weight and didn’t torture yourself about it!

How did you let the world know “I am HERE!” Or, if you feel the past year has not been so fruitful in your quest to take up positive space in the world – what added weight would you like to take on in the coming year? How do you want to take up space? How do you want to let yourself sprawl, in your professional or personal life? What, if anything, holds you back from a full-on sprawl? If you are a guy – what’s something you’ve done or want to do that supports women who’ve taken on added weight, that supports women’s right to sprawl in the world? How do you fight the nefarious Nutrisystem universe that tells women they should be small, small creatures of little physical or mental substance? Interpret liberally as seems fit to you.

To submit, send an e-mail with the permalink for your post to scientiaecarnival [at] gmail [dot] com by midnight June 6th. You can also tag your post with scientiae-carnival, but please make sure to email your link; there have been some issues with Technorati not picking up every tagged post. The complete submission instructions are here.


  1. #1 Flicka Mawa
    May 19, 2008

    Although I took the taking up as little space as possible to heart in high school (eating disorder and all), nowadays I don’t think about the space I take up so much – except maybe on the subway. I ride the 1 train, and it has seats that are marked/curved so as to suggest how much room a person should take up. Although sometimes women take up extra room with their bodies or bags, it’s most often men who will do something like slump with their legs apart and take up extra space even though their torso is the right size to fit in the seat.

    Looking forward to the carnival, and sorry that you didn’t contribute to the May carnival! Your perspective is always interesting.

  2. #2 Pat
    May 20, 2008

    ah I think the best complement I ever got was when my then research assistant Karin said “Pat you’re not a large woman, but you take up a lot of space.” Flicka Mawa take up more space– I’ve been reading you for a while and you so deserve lots and lots of space.

    PS a stupid addition– daughter Kathryn told me the more expensive the clothes the smaller the clothes are sized. Turns out, as is pretty much always the case, she was right. Try it out; currently I fit comfortably in different clothes sized between 8-12 and of course I figure that must mean my correct size is 8.

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