Female Science Professor's Scary Stories

Female Science Professor has been posting a set of tales based on her recent, annual trip to spend quality time with the extended family. Those of you with families should be able to sympathize.

In Men Are So Special, she reminisces about last year's bang-up good times:

It might be easier to endure these family visits if I could get away once in a while and take a break from making sandwiches for my uncles, but our family get-togethers occur on an island, in a house surrounded on 3 sides by tall trees and on the fourth side by a cliff. I think it would be easier to escape from Alcatraz.

And then we get Island of the Uncles, a particularly lovely tale. She discusses a conversation she overheard between two of the uncles, both ministers, that is so denigrating to women...well, read the post. And after you read this, think for a minute about how people have such a hard time believing that upstanding members of society, who seem like such nice men - good family men! - could be guilty of any of those nasty things those nasty women accuse them of. They must be making it all up to settle a grudge. Yes, yes, that's it. It's certainly not that sexism is so pervasive and accepted that the upstanding members of society are often poisoned through and through with it...

Now move along to Why I Am A Scientist (according to my family) and consider FSP's tale. There are several things to be sad about here. One, that apparently a woman becoming a scientist is such a bizarre occurrence that it requires an explanation, a creation myth. Two, it needs an explanation because becoming a scientist is an act that otherwise threatens to alienate her from the rest of the women in the family. Three, it suggests that the other members of her family cannot imagine themselves doing what FSP does. They have not had the creation myth experience, and therefore science is not, and cannot be, part of their lives.

Lastly, read Mini-Victory and cheer for FSP on the mini-golf course! FSP, I think you earned a bit of a boast and gloat.

Note, though, that FSP's daughter is already well aware that beating the men is somehow more significant than beating the women - it has a special meaning. We learn our gender politics early and often, and in the strangest of places.

Female Science Professor, I hope you are home by now and recovering from all that family love...

More like this

Im so friggen sheltered. Every time I read your blog, I feel like Im looking into an alternate dimension.

My husband's parents are bible-thumpin' Baptists, and extremely right wing. Even though they are Canadian, I think they might actually have a portrait of Dubya hanging somewhere in their house. My mother-in-law is out visiting us even as I write this (more on that in a bit).

My father-in-law is fairly quiet. My mother-in-law though is the most misogynistic person I have ever met, and her opinions are made even more obnoxious when she uses bible verses to back up her statements.

For instance, when women get raped, they obviously deserved it because "have you seen how women dress these days?" (I mean, obviously, any normal God fearing man would be driven to rape a woman dressed in a sleeveless shirt and tight jeans, right?).

According to her, single-mothers are the single largest cause of the decline of the morals of western civilization (next down the line is the fact that school prayer has been abolished). In trying to enter into reasoned debate with her over that sweeping statement by pointing out that for every single-mother out there, there is at least one father who is off doing something else other than trying to keep a family unit going on one salary, whilst also trying to maintain enough energy to actually be vigilant enough to keep their kids out of trouble. And also, that a not-insignificant fraction of those fathers do bugger all to monetarily support their children. But no, no, according to my mother-in-law, all those fathers *want* to be married to said mothers. It is the slutty mothers who choose to live as wanton whores (just being a single mother makes you a wanton whore, did you know that?)

After I had children, and particularly after the second, she continually badgered me with admonishments that it was an Abomination Under God to work outside the home if you are a mother (she quoted many bible verses at me to support those statements...she quoted them so many times I used to know them by heart, but, thankfully, I lost them all when I had the stroke last year. Thank god for that).

I've been suing Big State University since 2004 but we only told my mother-in-law a few months ago about the lawsuit because we suspected that her reaction would be that any maternal status discrimination I suffered at the hands of my employer was my own damn fault for being in the work place instead of at home, where I should have been. We were right...she has been pretty obnoxious regarding the lawsuit since she learned of it.

Because I have been ill lately, she has been out for a couple of weeks to help out (which, in many ways, I *do* appreciate). She actually has been behaving herself relatively well this trip out (I suspect because my husband read her the riot act when he picked her up from the airport...I've been ill for a while, and the last thing I/we need is someone spouting bible verses at me, letting me know what an Abomination I am (especially since she does it in front of the kids)). We've only had one "incident" where I came in from outdoors the other day to tell my husband something, and my mother-in-law intercepted me at the kitchen to tell me that I shouldn't disturb my husband because he was resting and watching TV (never mind that I had been outside in 98 degree heat for hours weeding while he had been inside playing games with the kids for most of that time...no no...the Man of the House should never be disturbed while he is at leisure).

So, it is not just the bible-thumpin' men who can make the world a more evil-smelling place to live. The bible-thumpin' women are often so freakin' brainwashed they can harp the party line better than the men. It reminds me of the way some senior women in physics are actually...

As an aside, I am a Christian (who also applies Buddhist philosophy to my lifestyle). I go to church regularly... *not* an extreme-right-wing bible-thumping, guitar-twanging, drum-banging, Dubya-luvin' church. Just a church. I'm just stating my religious views here in case people think I have a strong aversion to my mother-in-law's views because I might have a strong aversion to Christianity. I don't have an aversion to the religion in its originally intended form; I try to live my life as a Christian as an exception to Ghandi's comment "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians...they are so unlike your Christ". I *always* think of my mother-in-law when I think of that quote.

I've never figured out how my husband turned out even remotely normal being raised by his parents (his sister certainly didn't)...I have noted though that he has an amazing ability to simply ignore his mother, no matter how outrageous her comments are. It is a skill I need to learn, because you can't pick your family, and it is obvious that my mother-in-law is way too far gone to soften her views (if anything she gets worse as she gets older).

Sometimes, all you *can* do is ignore people like that.

This has nothing to do with FSP's scary stories, except maybe in relation to mini golf, but I am annoyed with a certain orthopedic company in corporate America right now. A certain piece of marketing targeted towards the 'active woman' has a picture of the lower half of a woman in a skirt (which I guess makes sense to distinguish her from a man) carrying a shopping bag riding down an escalator. As an ACTUAL ACTIVE WOMAN I am EXTREMEMLY insulted by what this implies! My active activities consist of shopping?!?!?! And I can't even walk down stairs?!?!? I realize patients with orthopedic products of this nature are not going to be running marathons, but COME ON! The figure could at least be doing yoga or playing golf or even gardening! I am rather peeved and just wanted to vent - so thanks Zuska for being here to let me do just that! :)

From The Guardian today, Hotel mistakes Nobel laureate for bag lady:

She was wearing a Mayan dress, the traditional attire of indigenous people in central America, and the hotel's response was also traditional: throw her out.
Staff at Cancun's five-star Hotel Coral Beach appear to have assumed this was another street vendor or beggar, so without asking questions they ordered her to leave. Except the woman was Rigoberta Menchú, the Nobel peace prizewinner, Unesco goodwill ambassador, Guatemalan presidential candidate and figurehead for indigenous rights.
The attempted eviction, an example of discrimination against indigenous people common in central and south America, backfired when other guests recognised Ms Menchú and interceded on her behalf.
Commentators noted the irony of upmarket resorts discriminating against real Maya while trying to attract tourists with fake Mayan architecture and spectacles.

Ms Menchú "was in the Mexican coastal resort at the request of President Felipe Calderón to participate in a conference on drinking water and sanitation". Somehow I don't think she was expected to make the sandwiches.