Thus Spake Zuska

Why I Shouldn’t Blog

A number of my Sciblings have taken up the challenge of the last “Ask A ScienceBlogger” question, “Why do you blog, and how does blogging help you with your research?” (See for example Alice and Janet and PhysioProf and Grrl and DrugMonkey.)

I am not currently involved in research, nor am I even employed, so the second half of the question is not very relevant for me. I thought I’d turn the first part around, though, and share with you all the reasons why I shouldn’t be blogging, at least not about gender and science. These are culled from comments over the past I-can’t-believe-it’s-been-almost-three-years. Some paraphrasing has been done but the essential message of each remains unchanged. Some of these I credit to the comment thread of this post over at Cosmic Variance. Enjoy!

Reasons why I should not blog (or at least, why no one should pay attention to me):

  1. You’re ugly.
  2. You’re old and ugly.
  3. You need to get laid.
  4. You’re old and ugly and you’ll never get laid.
  5. You must not be a scientist.
  6. You must not be a very good scientist.
  7. You won’t convert anyone with this kind of talk.
  8. Anger is not a useful emotion.
  9. You are your own worst enemy.
  10. “Scienceblogs is a leftist, anti-religious bed of vipers and you are just more proof of this.”
  11. There is no such thing as discrimination against women.
  12. You can’t take on sexism unless you also take on (fill in the blank).
  13. Sexism will never be defeated until (fill in the blank) is defeated.
  14. (Fill in the blank) is far more important an issue than sexism.
  15. I support women in science but I believe in deciding things purely on merit and we have to defend the standards.
  16. I support women in science but I think the problems you describe are a thing of the past.
  17. I support women in science but I just don’t agree with you and everybody’s opinion is important, especially mine.
  18. I’m a woman, and I’ve never experienced any discrimination, so you must be wrong.
  19. I’m a man, and I don’t know anyone who’s experienced discrimination, so you must be wrong.
  20. I’m a woman, and I never experienced any discrimination, and besides once a female scientist was MEAN to me!
  21. It’s just hostility in general, not sexism.
  22. There’s no disparity in treatment; everyone is equally under-encouraged.
  23. Science is rough. Women need to learn how to take it.
  24. Scientists aren’t the worst offenders.
  25. No need to worry, eventually sexism will just disappear
  26. Alas, sexism is evolutionarily predetermined.
  27. Boys and girls are just different. You can’t fight biology.
  28. Women have babies and there’s nothing we can do about this.
  29. You are just being politically correct.
  30. Real geniuses will always succeed.
  31. This is trivial and not worth our attention.
  32. This is trivial; we should be concerned about REAL incidents of sexism.
  33. You are just basing this on anecdotal evidence; you need data and studies.
  34. Your data and study are flawed and therefore don’t prove anything and besides, I have this anecdote that conflicts with what you are saying.
  35. If women were good at science, they’d already be doing it, but they’re not, so clearly they aren’t.
  36. Are you going to advocate for equal numbers of men in nursing, too?
  37. You can’t force women to like science, and if you do, you will RUIN SCIENCE!!!!!!11!!

Specialized reasons why you should never ever criticize Great Men of Science:

  • X was a great man! How dare you criticize him? Clearly you are not a very good scientist and are just jealous.

  • She wanted it.
  • Lots of great scientists are sexist pigs. It’s not a big deal. What matters is the science.
  • You probably have flaws too, so you have no right to criticize.
  • “…he was testing all these modern women, to see how many if any of them had the courage of their alleged principles.”
  • You are part of the leftwing liberal cabal that has taken over the world to promote diversity and silence the truth!

And finally, one of my most favorite of all:

Science doesn’t have a sexist culture, just a traditional male one where women don’t feel at home.

Comments

  1. #1 Mecha
    June 19, 2008

    Special Bonus reason you can’t blog (offered in the spirit of the post ;)

    You have posts on your blog about X (gardening/shoes/music/etc.), which trivializes your point if not defeating it entirely! You’re not serious enough about this topic, it must not be important.

    You’re too serious and unfunny. Don’t you have a sense of humor?

    -Mecha

  2. #2 iltc
    June 19, 2008

    How about this one: “You have a strong personality, and you don’t speak for (me/them/the situation).”

  3. #3 PhysioProf
    June 19, 2008

    You’re also shrill, and you have hairy legs!

  4. #4 writerdd
    June 19, 2008

    Wow, thank you for posting this. It sure makes me feel better about some of the comments I get on my posts!

  5. #5 ScienceWoman
    June 19, 2008

    Excellent! You get way more obnoxious comments than I do, but I thought I’d offer up a few of my collected favorites.

    You should be home taking care of your husband and child. (in that order)

    You should be writing a paper, not a post.

  6. #6 Sean Carroll
    June 19, 2008

    Glad we could help!

  7. #7 Dr. Free-Ride
    June 19, 2008

    I eagerly await the Bingo-cards. (There will be Bingo-cards, won’t there?)

  8. #8 Cherish
    June 19, 2008

    I can already guess the response:

    I’m sure you were taking all those comments the wrong way. Where’s your sense of humor?

  9. #9 Dave Munger
    June 20, 2008

    Zuska,

    I shouldn’t have to say this, because it’s made crystal clear in this post, but this post says much more about why you *should* blog than why you shouldn’t. Keep up the great work!

  10. #10 SKM
    June 20, 2008

    Thanks for compiling these–I hope your brain didn’t bleed too much. Also, that thread over at Cosmic Variance is mind-meltingly ridiculous, yet not in the least surprising. There seem to be no limits to the pretzelization of logic when it comes to defending prejudice. But that’s how denialism works, and we have to keep naming it as such. Over and over…

    Also in the spirit of the post, I’ll add that you shouldn’t blog about this stuff because you’re just not objective. You see, you look at this soooo much that you start to see it everywhere, unlike the cool, logical, objective dudes whose perception is unmarred by any actual information. /snark

  11. #11 Signout
    June 20, 2008

    Show your tits!

  12. #12 absinthe
    June 20, 2008

    I’m with Dr.Free-Ride…when are the bingo cards coming out?

  13. #13 FO
    June 21, 2008

    Forgive me if I seem dense, but I really can’t see what’s wrong with “You can’t force women to like science, and if you do, you will RUIN SCIENCE!!!!!!11!!” I thought that forcing anyone into anything (especially science) is never a good idea.

  14. #14 Azkyroth
    June 21, 2008

    Forgive me if I seem dense, but I really can’t see what’s wrong with “You can’t force women to like science, and if you do, you will RUIN SCIENCE!!!!!!11!!”

    The unstated assumptions and implications.

  15. #15 magetoo
    June 21, 2008

    So, why do you blog? The punchline of this post is missing, so to speak.

    Or is that the next post?

  16. #16 Alison
    June 21, 2008

    I don’t see why you blog actually. It just seems to be a venting place for your bitterness and anger. It isn’t constructive. Pointing out the negative so continually must be very wearing on your mindset. If I were you I’d stop blogging and try to get on with my life, as far away from the things that make you bitter.

  17. #17 Luna_the_cat
    June 21, 2008

    Gah :blink: :blink: O_O
    it
    Ok, Alison? Tell me, do you think that these attitudes — which give a lot of women in science a lot of grief — will somehow just magically disappear if people don’t keep dragging them out into the light in all their ugliness? WHY should they disappear if the people who are bothered and made angry by it are all simply driven away to areas where such vile attitudes don’t hold sway?

    The first rule of animal training is, behavior that is rewarded is repeated. Humans are animals, too. Behavior that is rewarded is repeated.

    The people who write, say, and think the kind of things that Zuska quotes above, tend to have a general desire that women not bother their comfort, or that women shouldn’t “behave badly” according to how they think women should behave, or that women should “stick to their proper place”. They don’t like having the problems shoved in their faces, and they don’t like hearing it repeated that this is a problem which needs to be changed. If they say vile things and the person confronting them backs down, shuts up, and goes away, they get what they want — peace, and the feeling that they are justified. Their behavior is rewarded. They’re hardly going to stop the attitude, given the result, are they.

    This is NOT the message that some of us want to send.

    I admire Zuska for complaining. And I imagine she actually wants to see a world friendlier for the women starting to come up the ranks now. So THAT is why she blogs, since you do not seem to have made this connection. It’s damn well useful to have as many people as possible speak up and keep speaking up, and complain and keep complaining for as long as there is something to complain about.

  18. #18 Vitis01
    June 21, 2008

    Don’t let the bastards drag you down! Anger is a gift! (ok, enough with the lyrics) I love your passionate screeds. I FEEL them IN MY GUTS and when that feeling is fresh I find it easier and more automatic to respond to the little persistent injustices that I see other guys perpetrate. I need to refresh that anger or I get worn down into complacency by the size and pervasiveness of all the -isms I want to fight.

    You make me want to ROAR at the sky!

  19. #19 Grammar RWA
    June 21, 2008

    This is an awesome blog post.

  20. #20 Cityzenjane
    June 21, 2008

    Though I am not a scientist, I have spent my adult life and my adolecsense in male dominated fields. I was a teenage camera sales person if you are wondering.

    I’ve made a couple of vlogs about situations similar and have been amaaaaaaaaazed at the male vitriol they attracted. It’s my fantasy that these responders are teenagers who are being raised by nasty drunkards. But your post pops that bubble.

    Now I’m not a scientist, at most I read things in the popular press. I am very interested though…which tells me they missed something in my early schooling.

    Race, Aptitude, Gender and Interest – a personal story
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=albggrfwo5k

    am/not feminist
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fq8nb3TWb6E

    You can poke around if others interest you! But the interesting part well at least for me is the comments sections…

    Why vlog, even?

  21. #21 sea creature
    June 22, 2008

    Thank you Zuska and keep blogging. And pass my regards to your friend Absynthe too.
    I am one of those women who left science as an undergraduate 20 years ago and often wonders what could have been.

  22. #22 Peggy
    June 23, 2008

    And if you quit blogging it’s because you were too girly to deal with the naturally antagonistic back-and-forth of the internets. Can’t you take a joke?

    Thanks for continuing to blog despite the crap!

  23. #23 SophieHirschfeld
    June 26, 2008

    I don’t always agree with what you have to say, but I like that you blog because it gives my brain something to do – no matter if it is the presentation of an idea that I need to reconsider or something that I think might be wrong and need to work out the rational arguments for or against. Some of these comments you mention are quite silly, but some could actually be valid points to consider. For example, an anecdote is valid when a sweeping generalization is made and the anecdote disproves the generalization. Also, while biology is no excuse for mistreatment, it can explain why some things happen that lead to gender inequality and give us a means to either solve it or find a healthy way to cope with it.

    Comments directed at what you write can be at least looked at and considered, even if they are wrong, just for the sake of science and exercising some rational thinking. The comments directed at you, though, should just be ignored.

    It is a pleasure to read your posts, don’t take people’s negativity personally.

  24. #24 Ian
    June 27, 2008

    A great list of comments, each of which serves only to confirm how much a voice like yours is needed whether or not people like to hear it.

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