Thus Spake Zuska

This is part one of a multi-part presentation of a sample chapter from a forthcoming book, The Madame Curie Complex. Part Two can be found here. Part Three can be found here.

This is something a little different for TSZ. Recently I was approached with an offer to share with my readers a sample chapter from a forthcoming book called The Madame Curie Complex: The Hidden History of Women in Science. A caveat: I have not read the whole book, and offering the sample chapter here for you to read does not constitute an endorsement by me of the book. But I was sufficiently intrigued by the sample chapter I read to think it was worth sharing with you, to let you read if you want. You can make up your own minds and decide if you want to purchase the book, which is on offer at the Feminist Press site for a reasonable price. About the book:

This March, The Feminist Press will release The Madame Curie Complex: The Hidden History of Women in Science by historian Julie Des Jardins. The book tells the stories of women scientists, from Marie Curie to Maria Mayer, who took enormous chances and made great discoveries in spite of, and at times because of, the resistance they faced in a male-dominated field. Des Jardins compares their stories with prominent male counterparts in an exploration of whether, and how, women research, collaborate, and come to different conclusions about the natural world.

The chapter I have been given to share with you is chapter 7, The Lady Trimates and Feminist Science?: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas. It came to me in a pdf version and a lot of formatting has been lost in moving it to this blog, but I hope you will still enjoy be able to enjoy reading it. I hope locating the footnotes will not be too hard. I’ve broken the chapter into sections for a series of posts, and the reference footnotes for each section will be at the end of each post.

The chapter opens with two quotes:

We think of science as manipulation, experiment, and quantification done by men dressed in white coats, twirling buttons and watching dials in laboratories. When we read about a woman who gives funny names to chimpanzees and then follows them into the bush, meticulously recording their every grunt and groom, we are reluctant to admit such activity into the big leagues. We may admire Goodall’s courage, fortitude, and patience but wonder if she represents forefront science or a dying gasp from the old world of romantic exploration. . . . The conventional stereotype is so wrong. . . . Jane Goodall’s work with chimpanzees represents one of the Western world’s great scientific achievements.
–Stephen Jay Gould, Introduction to the revised edition of In the Shadow of Man1

Often I think of science in technological terms–of the cold machinery, the devices, and accelerators, the weapons that science makes possible–all the things that modern science creates and utilizes. However, one day, I thought of science and appreciated its intent to look more closely into the beauty and mystery of nature. I had a glimpse of science in a different light, and at that moment the image of the woman in my dream came to mind. In one view of science the image exists of the male scientist exerting power and control over passive female nature. In this view the practice of science is seen as a violation of the natural world. However, my dream image raised the possibility of an alternative view. I began to consider another generative impulse of pure science–one born of curiosity and the love of nature. Then the woman becomes an intriguing symbol of a new way for me to think about the practice of science and its nature. She embodies the sense of science as the desire to understand nature, pursued in a rational and imaginative way. . . . Science is then not about the power of (male) intellect over passive (female) embodied nature. Rather science is a marriage, the relationship between human intellect and the intelligibility of a dynamic nature–nature which is both mysterious and knowable and in whose knowing we learn something about ourselves.
–Mary Palevsky, Atomic Fragments, April 19972

1. Jane Goodall, In the Shadow of Man (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971), 5.
2. Mary Palevsky, Atomic Fragments: A Daughter’s Questions (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 238.

On to the chapter…

In 1982 three women convened at an explorers club reception in New York City. From outward appearances, they were in their thirties and forties. One was a dulling blond, the other two brunettes; one towered over the other two, who appeared to be of average height. Each wore an informal print cotton dress, though one filled hers out with a clearly pregnant belly. From the pleasant, relaxed expressions on their faces, one might have thought they were wives of important scientists being honored for their research in the field, when in fact the three women were themselves the most famous experts in the world on wild primates. Men in universities on nearly every continent had read as much, if not more, than they on chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans; but no one had logged more than a fraction of their hours in live observation of the animals in their natural habitats. Collectively, the women had spent more than forty years in the forest, and they had only just begun.

Jane Goodall, the first of this scientific triumvirate, was a soft-spoken Englishwoman who had studied the chimpanzees of the Gombe River Reserve of Tanzania since 1960. A forty-eight-year-old divorcée and recent widow, she had lost some of the youthful glow that had drawn the attention of more than three million people to pictures of her in National Geographic in 1963. Nearly twenty years later, she was still slim and dignified, her hair tied back in the same loose ponytail. Initially, academics had written her off as a National Geographic cover girl. She was referred to in newspaper articles as the blonde who “preferred chimps to men,” but her life in Africa had not been a publicity stunt after all.

Throughout her girlhood, and animals had consumed her interest, she became inexhaustibly curious and patient observing them. At the age of four she waited for hours to witness chickens laying eggs; by nine she was riding horses, by eleven drawing pictures highlighting the differences between green loopers and caterpillars that turned into lime hawk moths. When most adolescent girls were writing to friends about high school crushes, she sat with her nature log classifying bullfinches and hedge sparrow babies. Her fascination with animals did not lead to formal study at university. Instead she held waitress and secretarial jobs until she had the money in hand to fly to Kenya. The twenty-three-year-old found work in Nairobi as a secretary at the Coryndon useum, under its illustrious director, paleontologist Louis Leakey. After taking her to assist his wife at their dig site at Olduvai Gorge, he chose Goodall to carry out a long-term study of chimpanzees in Tanzania.3

The chair of the National Geographic Society, the organization that became her greatest sponsor, remembered what he thought of the novice explorer when he first met her: She was obviously bright, but inexperienced, with a high-school equivalent education. . . . I thought it very unlikely this attractive young woman would devote her life to studying chimpanzees at Gombe Stream, deep in the wild, remote forest of Tanzania.” And yet she agreed to go into “the wild,” a five days’ drive from Nairobi and twelve miles from the nearest town of Kigoma. Only some local fishermen, a native cook, and her mother, Vanne Goodall, accompanied her, since Tanzanian officials refused to let her proceed without a parental chaperone. In the first months at Gombe, she was bedridden with high fever and slowed by malaria, the nearest doctor three hours away by boat. She turned waif thin as she adjusted to the heat and a reduced intake of calories, but she eventually felt well enough to find a lookout point high above the valley. Coffeepot in tow
and notebook in hand, she waited patiently for the chimpanzees to make an ppearance, even if it meant wrapping blankets around her to endure the night air.4

Perched at her post, in October 1960 she observed chimps inserting long twigs into termite mounds to scrape for food; a week later she noted their consumption of baboon babies, bushbuck, and several kinds of monkey. Little did she know that, as she recorded these behaviors, she was cracking evolutionary theory from its foundations, challenging the definition of Homo sapien in distinction from other species. The world’s leading primatologists had long insisted that chimps were vegetarian and couldn’t use tools, but this relative novice quickly proved them wrong. Soon she also reported on the chimps’ travel routes and child-rearing practices and claimed to understand the organization of their social structure. Specialists were intrigued by her fortuitous findings and came to see for themselves. By 1975 the Gombe Stream Research Center teemed with graduate students and scholars from Stanford, Cambridge, and the University of Dar es Salaam. Goodall had created a truly international center of research.

In 1986 many of the scholars who once made up the Gombe community came to Chicago to hold a conference marking the publication of The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior, the most comprehensive compendium of Goodall’s research to date. By this time she was no longer merely a leading light in academic circles, but a darling of the American public. Since 1977 an institute bearing her name had advocated for habitat conservation and better treatment of animals in captivity. Promotional trips to the United States soon required personal assistants to organize her book signings and television spots. By the 1990s Jane Fonda, Johnny Carson, Jimmy Stewart, and Michael Jackson were helping her raise funds for the apes. Her books for laypeople and children turned her into one of the most popular science writers in the world. No man or woman had translated scientific research into accessible language and advocacy so successfully since Rachel Carson wrote on the perils of pesticides in 1962.5

Jane Goodall was a tough act to follow when Louis Leakey’s second “Lady Trimate,” Dian Fossey, embarked on her study of mountain gorillas in the Congo in 1966. A six-foot-two American, she was rougher around the edges than her reserved British counterpart. Fossey looked composed for photographers at the Explorers Club meeting in 1982, but she was anxious to get back to her animals in the Virunga Mountains. It was
no secret that she liked gorillas much better than people. Brash, awkward, and, at times, downright hostile to Westerners, she increasingly preferred her own company in her isolated cabin at Camp Karisoke to engaging the egos and curiosities of those from outside.6

Dian Fossey grew up in an upper-middle-class family in San Francisco and had been estranged from her mother and stepfather since she was a child; animals had long become surrogates for affection. In high school she rode show horses and decided that her career would be one of caring for them, if only she could make the grades in science. She struggled in chemistry too much to get into a veterinary program and settled instead for courses in animal husbandry, eventually majoring in the occupational therapy of children, but she never relinquished her fantasy of going to Africa to study animals up close. When she read about Jane Goodall in 1963, she took out a loan against three years’ salary and set out for Tanzania, hoping that Louis Leakey would lead her to the animals. He put her in contact with photographers who allowed her to accompany them at Kabara, the study site of American gorilla expert George Schaller just three years earlier. It was here that she became enchanted with the mountain gorilla, but also where she first detected her physical limitations. Within seven weeks she had been so debilitated by ankle sprains that she was forced to return to the United States, her dream of studying animals apparently over.

Fossey wrote stories about the gorillas for local newspapers and got engaged to a Rhodesian man who had come to the United States to study and had no intention of returning home. Meanwhile, Louis Leakey was on an American lecture tour and came across her stories and photographs. He asked her if she wanted to study gorillas just as Jane Goodall studied chimps, and her response was immediate. She tabled her wedding and walked away from a career in physical therapy to embark on a life in the field, telling her family and fiancé that she didn’t know when she’d be back.7

Fossey left her life behind to study a group of gorillas that occupied an area of extinct volcanoes that stretched for twenty-five miles, two-thirds of which belonged to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the rest situated in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans and Uganda’s Kigezi Gorilla Sanctuary. It was the site on which legendary aturalist Carl Akeley had convinced King Albert of Belgium to create a national park that would protect gorilla inhabitants. Setting up camp four thousand feet up, Fossey began her life as an observer and ally of mountain gorillas. When civil war broke out in the Congo, rebel soldiers put her under house arrest, but she convinced them to drive her into Uganda. Reports differ about what happened across the border. She told some that she was brutally raped, others that she endured various forms of torture. She emerged from the incident determined to set up a new camp on the Rwandan side of the Virunga Mountains, a camp that she named Karisoke in September 1967.8

Ten thousand feet up from the closest neighboring villages, she hired porters to trek up and down the mud-drenched, nettle-laden mountain twice a week to bring food and mail to her camp. Men trained for this work could do it in an hour and a half; with her arthritic legs and emphysemic lungs, she needed the better part of four hours. It’s unlikely that a day went by on the mountain that she wasn’t in pain. She suffered hemorrhages, near blindness, rotting teeth, broken bones, and diseases likely ranging from tuberculosis to cancer. Before she arrived in Africa she had weak lungs, made worse by the thin air and her smoking of unfiltered cigarettes. The scarcity of fair weather, fresh food, and friends
did little to improve her condition. “It was indeed fortunate that I really liked potatoes,” she joked, for sometimes the only choice was mashed, baked, or boiled. Students who came to study the gorillas often left as quickly as they arrived. She thought it just as well: “It never dawned on me that exhausting climbs along ribbons of muddy trail, bedding down in damp sleeping bags, awakening to don wet jeans and soggy boots, and filling up on stale crackers would not be everyone’s idea of heaven.”9

Karisoke was not convenient, but since it was the best place from which to study rare mountain gorillas, that’s where she stayed. Her subspecies of interest, Gorilla gorilla beringei, had been “discovered” in 1902, but never studied closely, and, Fossey speculated, might be extinct before the end of the century. She was determined to understand and help the gorillas, her attitude raising perpetual conflict with local cattlemen and poachers. Hostilities between Bahutu and Batutsi farmers had long led to the illegal grazing of cattle in zones designated for the gorillas, and Batwa hunters poached gorillas to make novelty items of their hands, feet, and heads. Government officials and researchers wanted to protect the animals and hoped that a regular flow of visitors would bring wealth into the local economy and provide an incentive that would
allow for such protection. But Fossey didn’t think there was time to wait for the benefits of tourism to kick in–that is, if the tourists themselves did not lead to the destruction of the animals. Regular contact with humans could make the gorillas more vulnerable to diseases and traps. She believed that patrols, if their members were provided adequate salaries and weapons, would pose less of a threat to the animals.10

No scientist, farmer, or government official was interested in her approach, so she carried out vigilante justice herself. Leveraging researchers and local tribesmen, she instructed them to cut traps, confiscate weapons, and release animals from snares, regardless of the local tensions they incited. If graduate students wanted to see the animals, they were going to have to take on the dangerous patrolling responsibilities too. Many of them, fresh from the lab, proved unfit for the challenge and watched in horror as she staged sacrificial rituals to scare the locals into compliance. Their belief in black magic proved useful; during trips back home she replenished her supply of Halloween masks for her charades. Researchers reported that she whipped genitals and injected poachers with gorilla dung until septicemia set in. Allegedly, she kidnapped
a poacher’s son to make him submit. All of it, she insisted, was for “the sake of the remaining gorillas.”11

Corporate sponsors were not impressed. Whereas Jane Goodall remained the success story of the National Geographic Society (NGS) and the Wilkie and Leakey Foundations, Fossey became persona non grata in the community of primatologists. Like Goodall, she had come to Africa in search of apes, steady funding, professional affirmation, and perhaps even companionship; but Goodall had been more successful on every count. Goodall’s work in Tanzania led her to the men she eventually married: NGS photographer Hugo van Lawick in 1964 and Tanzanian parks director Derek Bryceson in 1975. With van Lawick, Goodall bore a beautiful blond son, known as Grub, much to the fascination of readers who followed the event through the glossy images of National Geographic. Life and love were never as easy for Fossey. After years of grueling effort in unbearable conditions, physical contact with the apes was elusive. For years she had to settle for a brief touch of fingertips with the great silverback Peanuts. The pictures that photographer Bob Campbell was able to capture of the event were not nearly as flattering of his human subject as van Lawick’s were of his. Fossey, too, fell in love with her photographer, but Campbell left her and went back to his wife. He would not be the last married man to choose his wife over her. Although she wanted children, her unsuccessful love affairs resulted in dangerous abortions performed without the benefits
of Western medical equipment. Not a day went by that she did not fear that financial hardships would bring her research to an end. She was bitter and often lashed out at staff and colleagues.12

Rwandan locals referred to Fossey as Nyiramachabelli, which translates to something like “the woman who lives alone on the mountain.” (A British tabloid translated it to mean “the old lady who lives in the forest without a man.”) Ann Pierce, who spent fourteen months at Karisoke, described it as “very lonely up there”; students unprepared for the isolation exhibited symptoms of “astronaut blues,” a combination of “sweating, uncontrollable shaking, short-term fevers, loss of appetite, and severe depression combined with prolonged crying spells.” If students felt this way after only brief stints, one can imagine the extent to which eighteen years at Karisoke plagued Fossey’s psyche. Accounts differ, but most corroborate that she grew frighteningly violent and mad. In 1977 the brutal killing of Digit, her most beloved gorilla, seemed to send her over the edge. She was murdered in her bed in December 1985. Two men were convicted of the crime, but in truth no one really knows who killed her, for she had many enemies around her.13

The third woman of Leakey’s triumvirate, Biruté Galdikas, headed not for Africa but for the rainforests of Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Fossey quarreled with her, never realizing that her fellow “Trimate” would defend Fossey’s militant protection of animals more eloquently than anyone else. When others questioned Fossey’s sanity, Galdikas
credited her with single-handedly converting the public image of the gorilla from “monstrous King Kong to peaceful vegetarian” and for ultimately saving him from extinction.14

In high school Galdikas dreamed of going to the Far East to be near the orangutans, but unlike the other Lady Trimates, she had acquired a husband and nearly her doctoral credentials before embarking into the field. She met Louis Leakey during yet another of his American tours: he had just given a lecture to her archaeological-dating-techniques class at the University of California, Los Angeles, when she approached him. His walking cane and nearly toothless smile belied his vigor; his enthusiasm was infectious–nearly “evangelical,” as she experienced it. She declared that she was his next lady protégée; she had already written the Malaysian government and planned to be accompanied to the rainforest by her husband, physicist Rod Brindamour. He would double as her photographer and camp manager, much as Hugo van Lawick had for Goodall.15

Leakey helped her get funding from NGS and other private foundations, and she arrived in the dense swamps of Borneo in 1971. She named her camp after Leakey and embarked on her “return to nature” in the same idealistic spirit that permeated California campuses at the time. Fossey resented Galdikas’s naive idealism as well as her charmed academic career and sex life, for although Galdikas worked in an oppressive
rainforest, she seemed never to break a literal or figurative sweat. The pages of National Geographic displayed a long-haired beauty, who in no time had adapted to the swamps and had loving orangutan orphans hanging from her limbs. Galdikas admitted later that the appearance of Eden was only appearance: the rainforest was not a picnic site, and marriage in it was hardly idyllic. National Geographic had failed to capture
her first week at Tanjung Puting, when she first wondered what she had gotten herself into. “I was confined to a tiny, airless hut with five men,” she not so fondly recalled. “I had no privacy except after sundown, when oil lamps made from small sardine cans left most of the hut in darkness.” The isolation was stifling. She longed for any reminders of her former existence–a letter, even an old magazine. “At times,” she admitted, “we felt as though the rest of the world had abandoned us.”16

Back home, friends and family feared that she and Rod were forever lost in the jungle, and the truth wasn’t far off. For months they trekked with machetes in tow, clearing the thick growth that enveloped them. Avoiding fallen logs, vipers, and leech-infested pools was a treacherous and daily exercise. It was not uncommon for her to wade in swamp water to her armpits and to lose feeling in her frozen extremities. She layered her clothes to keep her notebooks dry but still succumbed to mysterious rashes, fevers, bites, and feelings of perpetual wetness. The orangutans, meanwhile, gave little indication of their presence in the forest other than an occasional brushing of leaves or shower of urine from the canopies overhead. By the time she saw her first animal in the
wild, she had lost twenty-five pounds.17

In 1977 Galdikas became pregnant and, to the horror of her family, gave birth to her son without the benefits of modern medicine. She felt pressure to produce a respectable dissertation, and writing and mothering occupied all her time, while the native nanny occupied Rod Brindamour’s. He no longer wanted to be with Galdikas, so she divorced him in 1979 as well as the Western existence she once knew. Essentially changing places with the nanny, Galdikas stayed in Indonesia and let her toddler son live with his father and teenaged wife in Canada. Later, she married a young Dayak tracker, a man smaller and less formally educated than the Western men she knew. He did not speak English, nor did he intend to leave the village where he was born. Their children would come to have Western names, Frederick and Jane, her daughter’s name inspired by one of the few white women who understood the allure of the wild. But Galdikas eventually considered the Dayaks her people, the orangutans her family, and Borneo her permanent home.18

When she arrived in New York in 1982, Galdikas looked as though she had chosen a life of druidism over Western science or domesticity. She wore her signature oversized spectacles and was soon to give birth to another child. Her silky brown hair had become increasingly wild and soon would turn wiry gray. Once slim and voluptuous, with each passing year she gained weight and morphed more fully into a figure indifferent to Western tenets of beauty. Had she been a man, her transformation might have been likened to that of H. G. Wells’s ingenious Dr. Moreau or of Conrad’s Kurtz in The Heart of Darkness. She, too, had become a demagogue of sorts, assuming the identity of “Ibu,” or “Mother Biruté,” among the locals, but her succumbing to the wild seemed less romantic than for men. Shedding all the trappings of conventional life to live reclusively with her beloved animals, she appeared to be the proverbial cat lady; she didn’t live in a dilapidated house down the street, but rather in a hut in the rainforests of Borneo–ultimately secluded from civilization.19

Galdikas transgressed the boundaries of female behavior but also of sound science, to the irritation of her professional peers. In the mid-1970s, primatologists had praised the rigor of her dissertation. Her findings on orangutan food sources supported evolutionary theories about divisions of labor that she extended to human males and females. After 1974 researchers adopted her animal sampling techniques as the most effective for recording behavioral data in the field. But like Fossey, she gradually fell from grace–down a slippery slope, from seeming to be a disinterested scientist to becoming an advocate for the apes. The rate at which she published research trailed off; thousands of pages of handwritten field notes sat in storage, collecting dust. Anthropologist Peter Rodman couldn’t bring to mind any original research of hers after 1975. Carey Yeager, who observed proboscis monkeys upriver from Camp Leakey, believed that the ruse of her performing “science” was pretty much up when she started accepting tourists’ money to play out fantasies of being scientists in the field. She directed more research in Bahasa Indonesian, rather than English, and admitted having little concern for remaining disinterested in the Western sense.20

Signs of her dramatic transformation were present even in 1975, as she lectured to a roomful of scientists in Los Angeles. Standing at the podium barefoot, she had appeared to have “gone native.” They could not have known that she was not making a statement, but rather acting out of necessity. The swamps of Kalimantan had swollen her feet to such an extent that her closed-toe shoes didn’t fit anymore. She had no need for formal footwear in Borneo and was surprised, when she returned to the West, to find how much her feet had expanded. Her feet are an ideal metaphor for her ideas about the natural world, a physical reflection of interior change that others might never understand unless they, too, had to walk in shoes that no longer fit. “Journal articles and
monographs on fieldwork talk about theory, techniques and results,” she reflected. “One rarely hears how fieldwork changes people’s lives.

The living conditions, the funding difficulties, the practical problems, the highs of discovery, the false starts and dead ends, the drudgery of scientific record-keeping, the learning how to get along with people and societies initially very foreign to you, the learning how to get along without people, places, and things you once took for granted, the feeling of suspension in time as the world spins on without you–all have an impact.”21 Until Western scientists left the lab to live in the field, they couldn’t know life in her shoes.

Reference list for this section:

3. Jane Goodall, Africa in My Blood: An Autobiography in Letters: The Early Years, ed.
Dale Peterson (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000), 12-25; National Geographic Video, Jane
Goodall: My Life with the Chimpanzees (Washington, DC: National Geographic Society,
1990); Goodall, In the Shadow of Man, 3-4.

4. Jennifer Lindsay, Jane Goodall: 40 Years at Gombe; A Tribute to Four Decades of
Wildlife Research, Education, and Conservation (New York: Stewart, Tabori, and Chang,
1999), 8; Jane Goodall, Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of
Gombe (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990), 5; Goodall, In the Shadow of Man, 40-62.

5. Jane Goodall, Beyond Innocence: An Autobiography in Letters: The Later Years, ed.
Dale Peterson (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001), 355-56; Sy Montgomery, Walking with
the Great Apes (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991), 205-6.

6. Fossey felt overshadowed by Goodall and joked that her eventual book, Gorillas in
the Mist, should be called “In the Shadow of In the Shadow of Man.” See Montgomery,
Walking with the Great Apes, 149.

7. Dian Fossey, Gorillas in the Mist (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983), 1-4; Montgomery,
Walking with the Great Apes, 49-52; Alex Shoumatoff, African Madness (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988), 11-13; Farley Mowat, Woman in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey and the Mountain Gorillas of Africa (New York: Warner Books, 1987), 2-23; Harold T. P. Hayes, The Dark Romance of Dian Fossey (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990), 38, 58, 114, 121-22.

8. Fossey, Gorillas in the Mist, xv, 2, 6; Shoumatoff, African Madness, 8-10, 13-14.

9. Fossey, Gorillas in the Mist, x, 10, 159.

10. Fossey, Gorillas in the Mist, 20-21, 57-58, 154-55; Shoumatoff, African Madness, 7, 16; Hayes, Dark Romance, 124-29; Mowat, Woman in the Mist, 58-60.

11. Shoumatoff, African Madness, 20-21; Fossey, Gorillas in the Mist, 27-28; Hayes,
Dark Romance, 182-83, 207, 233, 295-97, 301; Mowat, Woman in the Mist, 59-60, 82, 90, 94, 104-5, 125, 193.

12. Hayes, Dark Romance, 200, 213, 216-17, 225, 229, 258; Mowat, Woman in the Mist, 85, 89-90, 93-94, 124, 200-1, 217, 253, 369-70; Shoumatoff, African Madness, 24-25, 33; Montgomery, Walking with the Great Apes, 53, 64-65, 133, 154, 160.

13. Fossey, Gorillas in the Mist, 156; Hayes, Dark Romance, 29; Shoumatoff, African
Madness, 19; Mowat, Woman in the Mist, 155.

14. Biruté M. F. Galdikas, Reflections of Eden: My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo
(Boston: Little, Brown, 1995), 385, 392-95.

15. Galdikas, Reflections of Eden, 39-43, 46-48; Evelyn Gallardo, Among the Orangutans: The Biruté Galdikas Story (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1993), 9-10; CBC Television Network, The Third Angel (Eugene, OR: New Dimensions Media, 1992), videocassette; Linda Spaulding, A Dark Place in the Jungle (Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 1999), 65; National Geographic Video, Search for the Great Apes (Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 1995), videocassette; Bettyann Kevles, Watching the Wild Apes: The Primate Studies of Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1976), 111-12; Montgomery, Walking with the Great Apes, 166-67.

16. Galdikas, Reflections of Eden, 83, 164.

17. Galdikas, Reflections of Eden, 83, 87, 90, 105-6; Gallardo, Among the Orangutans, 27.

18. Galdikas, Reflections of Eden, 300-305, 320-24, 382-84; Montgomery, Walking with the Great Apes, 7.

19. Spaulding, A Dark Place in the Jungle, 233-34.

20. Carleen Hawn, “Please Feedback the Animals,” Forbes 170 (October 28, 2002), 168-70; Spaulding, A Dark Place in the Jungle, 76-77; Montgomery, Walking with the Great Apes, 176, 182-83.

21. Galdikas, Reflections of Eden, 281, 336-37.

Comments

  1. #1 David Marjanović
    March 10, 2010

    Little did she know that, as she recorded these behaviors, she was cracking evolutionary theory from its foundations, challenging the definition of Homo sapien in distinction from other species.

    Goodall’s work has cracked a lot of things from their foundations. It’s basically a Copernican revolution. But the theory of evolution is not among those things – it simply doesn’t go into such details as when such traits as tool-making or hunting evolved in our ancestors.

    It fits this lack of knowledge that des Jardins can’t get Homo sapiens right; it is singular, and the final -s is part of the name, not an English plural ending. (And never mind the italics, which are part of the spelling, too.)

  2. #2 Zuska
    March 10, 2010

    I mentioned in my post that essentially all formatting was lost in converting PDF to blog format. That would include italics, Mr. McNitpicky.

    Others can speak to the rest of your critique.

  3. #3 V. infernalis
    March 11, 2010

    I wonder if the author has learned any lessons from Margaret Mead about the perils of distorting facts to fit a preconceived narrative. Is Newton’s Principia described elsewhere in the book as a “rape manual”, by chance? Or perhaps how fluid dynamics problems were insoluble until feminist science arrived?

  4. #4 PeggyL
    March 11, 2010

    Thanks for sharing this, Zuska! I had seen the announcement of the book, and am looking forward to reading it when it comes out.

  5. #5 FrauTech
    March 11, 2010

    Thank you for sharing. I hope if you decide to buy it you’ll share your overall perspective. I’m intrigued but enough on my reading list right now that this will just have to be added to a future wish list.

    The author doesn’t make any negative comments about male scientists in general, only negative scientific community reactions to these scientists, and does not attribute it to gender bias. And yet one angry comment already that shows a book chronicling the lives of female scientists must indeed be radical and hateful literature. One wonders if that person even read the excerpted material or merely applied their own preconceptions.

    My understanding is evolutionary biologists continue to debate the use of tools amongst primates. It would seem discovery of this event would have a big impact on evolutionary theory, but perhaps Mr. Marjanovic can educate us as to why it does not.

  6. #6 Zuska
    March 11, 2010

    I wonder if the author has learned any lessons from Margaret Mead about the perils of distorting facts to fit a preconceived narrative. Is Newton’s Principia described elsewhere in the book as a “rape manual”, by chance? Or perhaps how fluid dynamics problems were insoluble until feminist science arrived?

    Oh, ho hum. Why don’t you buy the book and read it and come back and let us know, if these questions seem so terribly important to you? Otherwise, do you have anything to say about the actual chapter offered here for consideration? Would you care to explain exactly in what manner you consider the author is distorting facts? That would be a helpful contribution to a dialogue.

    Or are you just a whiny angry d00d full of hatred for women who can’t stand the fact that someone wrote a book about women doing science from a perspective other than the standard d00dly perspective, and you feel the need to distort the facts about a book you haven’t read to fit your narrative of castrating feminazis destroying all that is good about science?

    Yeah, I thought so. Take your hatin’ and run along.

  7. #7 SKM
    March 11, 2010

    It’s interesting how Marjanović singles out Mead as though bias in her perspective makes her unique among anthropologists, yet bundles Des Jardins together with Sandra Harding, whom Des Jardins does not even cite.

    Apparently women are all the same as one another, and horribly different from men.

  8. #8 et
    March 11, 2010

    Any book that starts a chapter like this: “they were in their thirties and forties. One was a dulling blond, the other two brunettes” immediately loses most of my interest. Why must we refer to women by age & hair color (blond, brunette?! does anyone even use those words?)?

  9. #9 David Marjanović
    March 12, 2010

    My understanding is evolutionary biologists continue to debate the use of tools amongst primates.

    Not much…

    It would seem discovery of this event would have a big impact on evolutionary theory, but perhaps Mr. Marjanovic can educate us as to why it does not.

    Because the theory of evolution by mutation, selection and drift is general, not specific. It applies to everything that can reproduce and inherit, and doesn’t say anything about how any particular species evolved. It’s not about how we descended, it’s about how descent works.

    It’s interesting how Marjanović singles out Mead

    You’re confusing comments 1 and 3. And, just for the record, I do not harbor any such prejudices against des Jardins.

  10. #10 bexley
    March 12, 2010

    Only some local fishermen, a native cook …

    Only tangentially related to the topic but it was somewhat jarring to see the word native used in this context. In the UK it has largely fallen out of use because of its colonial associations. Interesting to realise that without those same associations it is still being used over in the US.

  11. #11 SKM
    March 12, 2010

    You’re confusing comments 1 and 3.

    Right you are. I apologize for the confusion.

  12. #12 Zuska
    March 12, 2010

    I would encourage readers to check out the comments on the final post in this series (link to Part Three at the top of the post) where at least one reader has left an extensive comment analyzing the chapter. Something more substantive and interesting than nitpicking about italics that aren’t present for reasons you haven’t paid attention to, or whining about out-of-context remarks you once heard that some feminist made about science that aren’t even in the text of the blog post you clearly haven’t read. You know, a less d00dly sort of comment.

    I have encouraged the book author to participate in the conversation here so if you have read and are just lurking, do leave comments or questions for her to consider. D00dly jackasses can expect to have their whiney irrelevancies deleted.

  13. #13 V. infernalis
    March 12, 2010

    I’m always impressed by the selectivity of the outrage about stereotyping around here.

  14. #14 Zuska
    March 13, 2010

    You know, if you aren’t happy with what you are reading, a possible solution is to stop reading.

  15. #15 David Marjanović
    March 14, 2010

    Something more substantive and interesting than nitpicking about italics that aren’t present for reasons you haven’t paid attention to

    Stop whining about my whining! :-D I apologize, I retract that part. The missing -s at the end stays on the list of things des Jardins should have got right but didn’t, and it’s considerably worse than the italics; her Dunning-Kruger comment about the theory of evolution is much worse still.

    Thanks for the pointer to parts 2 and 3, I’ll read them now. I never said the whole thing wasn’t interesting – I just have SIWOTI syndrome.

  16. #16 Calli Arcale
    March 15, 2010

    It looks like a very interesting book, but one thing struck me when reading the quote by Mary Palevsky: she talks of machinery and labs and things as being very masculine, but the essential curiosity of science she describes as feminine. This bothers me. Part of is because it seems silly (and a bit Victorian) to constrain creativity to the sphere of the feminine, but mostly because I’m a woman, and I want all those cool machines and labs and things. I wouldn’t want to be out in the forest looking at apes; I’d rather be in the lab tinkering with bubbling things in retorts, or possibly robots. I think of science as being about all that engineering and such, and it doesn’t bother me, or seem like an exclusively male domain. It’s where I want to be.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t think it’s much progress to say “science can *also* be girly”. I’d rather say “science can be all these things, and it doesn’t matter what chromosomes you’ve got; they’re all cool and awesome and wonderful.” Because they are.

    That said, it is certainly true that this nevertheless happens, and as the point of the book is to explore that, it sounds fascinating. I enjoyed this excerpt (these three “trimates” are all amazing scientists, even if they didn’t all have the degrees to go with them, and their personal stories are fascinating) and look forward to reading the others when I have some more time.

  17. #17 Calli Arcale
    March 15, 2010

    Addendum: while the book is aimed at exploring how women’s insight has affected science, I will be particularly interested to see if they cover women whose contribution was signficant but attributed to men. I think particularly of astronomy, which is a field where stereotypical perceptions of femininity do not really apply — which may be part of the reason why it remains one of the more female-hostile fields. (There are some very sharp female astrophysicists, but they are definitely a minority, moreso than in many other fields.)

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