The Kings Are (Always) Angry

Dr. Shellie has a post on the National Academies report and the ensuing discussion on Inside Higher Ed. Dr. Shellie says:

I am increasingly frustrated with the issue of discrimination against women in academia. Rhetorically, women are being put in the position of having to prove that discrimination exists, against the claims of their opponents, who claim that the gender ratio in science is in fact due to other factors (biology, interests, etc.).

I don’t like the way this debate is framed. It puts women in a weak position, to argue the evidence for their own poor treatment.

And anyway, I have no interest in proving that discrimination exists. I would much rather believe that discrimination (or its softer cousin, “bias”) does not exist and just focus on helping myself succeed.

Ah, Dr. Shellie. I, too, wish that all you had to do was focus on helping yourself succeed. That’s all you should have to do. You shouldn’t have to prove discrimination exists. You shouldn’t have to deal with its effects. You shouldn’t have to deal with whiny-ass men who want to argue with you about whether it does or does not exist and whether they are or are not part of the problem and if they should or should not be doing anything about this problem which does or does not exist. It’s all a pain-in-the-ass, life-force sucking, enervating drag.

Just this morning I was reading Seneca via a wonderful book I picked up in a used book store. (Used bookstores are like crack cocaine. I should never be allowed to enter them unsupervised.) The book is “The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present” ed. Phillip Lopate, and the selection by Seneca that seems pertinent here, on pages 12-15, is titled “Slaves”. Seneca says:

Kings forget their own strength and others’ weakness and fly into a white-hot fury as if they had really been injured, when their exalted position guarantees them complete immunity to any possibility of injury. Nor are they unaware of their immunity; by complaining, they solicit an opening for inflicting harm. They profess they have been injured in order to work injury.

Go ahead and read the discussion at Inside Higher Ed, if you have the stomach for it. It won’t shed much light on anything. But it will give you an idea of what the Kings are thinking these days. I’ll summarize for you, if you have a busy schedule, or would rather spend your precious time, like Dr. Shellie, helping yourself succeed.

  1. There is no discrimination. It’s just a matter of differing interests. Isn’t it pretty to think so.
  2. People (= women) who demand gender equity = communists who take their marching orders from Marx and Engels. See: Intelligent Designer’s critique of evolutionary biologists. They demand the surplus labor of the childless to support their selfish child-raising lifestyle. (Please don’t ask us to make sense when we (a) accuse women of being communists and (b) use Marxist theory to accuse women of oppressing single male scientists in a classic capitalistic manner but pretend it is communism; our theory that we have, that is to say, which is ours, is the theory of Marxilism.)
  3. Discrimination against Jews in science caused them to work harder to try to succeed and thus led to their over-representation. If women are still underrepresented in science, perhaps we are not discriminating against them enough to motivate them sufficiently. If anything, the over-representation of men thus shows that they are discriminated against.
  4. “All generalizations about groups of people are false.” Including this one?
  5. I offer myself/this personal anecdote/a friend I know/somebody I heard about/my gut feelings as an example that completely refutes the National Academies report.

And there you have it, except for a few voices of reason here and there from some feminists/women scientists trying patiently, patiently to explain to the Kings that they are dressed in the emperor’s clothes. Morons managed. Back to your personal success, Zuskateers!

  1. October 13, 2006 at 8:49 pm

    And lo, came Absinthe, beaten, bloody and barely alive from the dank trenches of science academia. “Hear me!” she cried “I have data, *public* data, which unequivocally shows in a dozen different ways that women are totally screwed over in my field! Here it is! Take a look and judge for thyselves!”. And she held forth the data in her shaking, bloodied hands. And lo, powerful gender equity advocacy groups have heard the cries of Absinthe and are now taking that data and are independently analyzing it themselves. They do this because the Kings who have the power to fix the whole fucked up mess refuse to believe anything is wrong unless it is backed up by lots and lots of hard data.
    Yes, the Kings did their best to kill off Absinthe… uppity women who know where all the data skeletons are buried must have their careers destroyed. Foolish Kings…they may have destroyed Absinthe’s beloved career, but by doing so they also removed the one remaining barrier that kept her from speaking out about her collected gold mines of gender inequity data; fear of losing her career. And speak out she now does…frequently and loudly, and she backs up everything she says with data and statistics.
    Hard data anyone?

  2. October 15, 2006 at 9:22 am

    I am loving that Seneca quote. I may have it tattooed on my bum. That way, if I ever meet Larry Summers, I can moon him and he’ll get an education.
    Thanks, also, for your extremely sweet and touching comment. I look forward to reading your essays!
    (PS: As a ~85% straight girl, my Muse might be a tall, dark sexy dude in a lab coat and scuffed black leather shoes who appears in darkened microscope rooms …)

  3. Mustafa Mond, FCD
    October 19, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    From Bob Park at What’s New

    “Out of the Shadows: Contributions of Twentieth-Century Women to Physics,” edited by Nina Byers and Gary Williams, is an important contribution to the history of science. It is forty stories of women who made major contributions to twentieth century physics, written by distinguished scientists who are themselves actively engaged in the areas of physics about which they write. Cambridge University Press, produced a beautiful 500-page volume, and the Sloan Foundation provided a grant that reduced the list price to $35. It cannot be read without a sense of regret at what the world lost by not having greater involvement of women in science. Even today, my freshman physics class averages only 10% women.

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