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Damsel-In-Distress Feminists, Commence Your Vomiting

I've got a reasonable feminist pedigree for a boy. Swaggering, posturing masculinity makes me retch and sneer. I'm a devoted user of gender-neutral pronouns. My Jewcy profile lists my gender as "not applicable", because when I fill out forms I'm … Read More

By / October 4, 2006

I've got a reasonable feminist pedigree for a boy. Swaggering, posturing masculinity makes me retch and sneer. I'm a devoted user of gender-neutral pronouns. My Jewcy profile lists my gender as "not applicable", because when I fill out forms I'm annoyed by gratuitous inquiries into my gender. Who gives a shit? What do you care?

None of this means I admire the damsel-in-distress feminism that has replaced the more vigorous woman-power of my mother's day. Still, I don't wish these dainty ladies ill, and today I'm particularly concerned for their well-being. You see, in an article in the NY Times, Margaret Wertheim, an unapologetic feminist and a historian of women in the sciences, hits us with a shocking piece of verbotenspeech. Before diving into a discussion of the very real sexist prejudices that handicap female scientists, Ms. Wertheim says, "While there may indeed be subtle biological differences contributing to the scarcity of women in the top ranks of science…"

Has anyone in the blogosphere echo chambers yet commented on the fact that this little disclaimer of a dependent clause affirms the very point that got Larry Summers canned?

After all, in Summers's now infamous (and relentlessly mischaracterized) speech, he suggested that–though the male and female populations almost certainly share the same mean scientific ability–men might have a slightly larger average deviation from the mean, helping to produce a disproprotionate number of male scientific dolts and male scientific geniuses. Notoriously, MIT professor Nancy Hopkins claimed that upon hearing Summers's horrifying words, she felt that she was either going to "black out" or vomit.

Shouldn't Nancy Hopkins and company now be vomiting at the thought that a prominent feminist would publish Summers-esque hate speech in the paper of record? Should we picket the Times and Ms. Wertheim's offices? Or is the truth that what Summers said was within the bounds of reasonable scientific inquiry? So much so, even, that a real feminist like Wertheim can acknowledge that it's a possibility, and do so without vomiting or fainting?

 

 

 

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