Home > Those Humorless Feminists, What They're Saying > Rules For Media Coverage of Feminists

Rules For Media Coverage of Feminists

The most excellent Dr. Isis has launched her most excellent Letters to Our Daughters project. Isis tells us

The inspiration for my Letters to Our Daughters Project comes from my hope that we can recreate our family tree here, creating a forum where the mothers and aunts in our fields (which I hope to not limit to physiology, but that’s where I’ll start because that’s who I know) can share their wisdom with us. I think there is a wealth of information among these successful women and I hope to use this forum to share it with young scientists who are yearning for that knowledge.

Today, Isis tells us, Someone has noticed. Isis followed up on this interest from Someone at a public radio program, only to be finally informed that

“If we can’t identify you by name on our program, then there really is not enough controversy here for us to do a story on this project.”

So what’s that all about then?


Isis says she is left feeling squeemy by this encounter and I don’t blame her a bit. Some commenters are of the opinion that it can all be chalked up to MSM-syndrome: the mainstream media just doesn’t “get” the blogosphere, those old farts who run those tired forms of reporting don’t understand us hip young folks. (Never mind there are young reporters and old fart bloggers, including yours truly.) A few other bloggers suspect a ruse, someone trying to suss out Dr. Isis’s identity, but Isis claims she verified Someone’s identity and was not being Zuckered. (always glad to help try and create a new term, sister Isis!)
Here’s my take on this: it has much less to do with the cluelessness of MSM about the bloggysphere, or somebody’s desire to unmask Isis in particular, than it does with how MSM generally shapes stories about feminists. Stories involving feminists, by definition, must always be controversial, because feminism and feminists cannot be taken as uncontroversial things.
So herewith I present one possible scenario for a “controversy” that Someone from public radio might have been interested in cooking up for a program piece. Just talking about the nice anonymous blogger who started a project to encourage young women scientists? Not so interesting. Framing it (oh my god, I used that word!) as another chapter of the ongoing campus culture wars? MUCH more interesting! If you’re gonna talk about feminazis, there are rules to be followed. Let’s get started.
Rule Number 1: Feminists must not be portrayed as doing anything really positive for Humankind, especially women. Feminists are RUINING!!!11!!!1! women’s lives by not allowing them all to “choose” full-time wife- and motherhood, unless the women are poor, in which case feminists are ruining poor women’s lives by encouraging them to expect social justice instead of just relying on themselves and getting off welfare and going out to work to support their children. (You can play at home! Pick your favorite issue. See if you can explain how, no matter what, feminists are RUINING!!!11!!!1! women’s lives.)
Rule Number 2: Feminists should be portrayed as though their real agenda, no matter what they say, is to emasculate Mankind. Feminists may say they are all about equity in the workplace but what they really mean is stealing jobs from men – the very jobs that make men out of the boys! Just ask Christina Hoff Sommers. She’s created whole conferences about this very issue, and the media loves her. Next the crafty feminists give those jobs to unqualified women (probably unqualified black or Latina women, to boot). Finally, they force men to go against their natural selves through the imposition of ridiculous workplace rules like no groping your colleagues and other ridiculous restraints on a man’s evolved sex drives. You might as well just Bobbitt every man the minute he enters the workplace.
Rule Number 3: You cannot under any circumstances cover anything a feminist is doing without having one or two “experts” to explain why they are evil and wrong. If it’s science-related, preferably one of these experts would be Christina Hoff Sommers. She’s not a scientist, but no matter – she’s positioned herself as the go-to “conservative feminist” on gender and science. If it’s academia-related, it would be great to get some commentary from someone like David Horowitz. The two of them can explain to you how any particular feminist is destroying the minds of America’s youth and the pillars of the American university tradition as we have known it and, by extension, America itself.
So, my guess is, Someone wanted to create a nice “fair and balanced” public radio program about Dr. Isis’s Letters To Our Daughters project. You gotta have controversy in order to be fair and balanced. The controversy is: Isis thinks she’s doing something good, but it’s not really good for young girls, because it encourages them to think of themselves as victims. Furthermore, pushing young women into careers they don’t really want to do – and aren’t, by their biology, naturally inclined toward – is bad for them, bad for science, and bad for our country. Feminists only want to do this because they hate men, and they hate our country. Just ask David and Christina. They will explain it to you.
But you can’t expect them to swoop down on Dr. Isis’s college campus and collect evidence of the nefarious intent of MRU’s network of evil feminist malcontents, of which Dr. Isis is most surely just the latest manifestation, if they don’t know where it is they are to swoop. The controversy is much less exciting if you can’t make a stink on campus. Maybe find a female science student right on MRU who will proclaim, “I don’t want any “special help”!”
Yeah, that’s how these things are manufactured. I have friends on college campuses who have been the target of stuff like this. Isis, I say, count yourself lucky that Someone flounced off into the night. There are some kinds of attention your project just doesn’t need.

  1. May 8, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    I’m a “old fart” as well – card carrying AARP member and all. MSM really really doesn’t get the blogosphere. I know more about Dr. Isis by reading her blog than I know about almost all of the MSM – not that I care to know that much at them.

  2. D. C. Sessions
    May 8, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Stories involving feminists, by definition, must always be controversial, because feminism and feminists cannot be taken as uncontroversial things.

    Of course. Once something is not controversial, there’s no use in having a term for it any more.
    When was the last time you saw someone described as an “abolitionist” or “suffragist?”

  3. May 8, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Zuska, you are so awesome that I have no words for your awesomeness. This post is fantastic.

  4. May 8, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    You know, D.C. is right. I’m in it for the drama.

  5. meijusa
    May 9, 2009 at 5:13 am

    what volcanista said. Awesome post.

  6. D. C. Sessions
    May 9, 2009 at 8:29 am

    You know, D.C. is right. I’m in it for the drama.

    I’d rather not misinterpret that.
    Just so I’m not myself misunderstood: I’m looking forward to the day when “feminism” is precisely as controversial as the abolition of slavery — and therefore, there won’t be any useful semantic content to the label “feminist.”

  7. Ged
    May 9, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Finally, they force men to go against their natural selves through the imposition of ridiculous workplace rules like no groping your colleagues and other ridiculous restraints on a man’s evolved sex drives.

    Here’s a controversy they could print – I once worked at a place where guys were encouraged to be guys by the owner guy and it wasn’t just the women who hated it. It created a tense & unproductive vibe. Women & men left, the company lost valuable resources and some sued. It was lose-lose all round. Those ‘ridiculous’ workplace rules benefit everyone and translate to the bottom line.
    No takers? Thought not..

  8. May 9, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Zuska, I had never considered it this way. Damn it, I hate it when you you’re right (as you so frequently are). I am keeping my Naughty Monkeys though.

  9. May 9, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Zuska, I had never considered it this way. Damn it, I hate it when you you’re right (as you so frequently are). I am keeping my Naughty Monkeys though.

  10. J. J. Ramsey
    May 9, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Ged: “I once worked at a place where guys were encouraged to be guys”
    Why do I get the bad feeling that this really means that guys were prodded to act like macho knuckle draggers?

  11. AK
    May 9, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Something to consider: controversy sells, and most radio shows have to show a profit or they’ll be canceled. I suspect you’ll find the same attitude toward any sort of community advocacy that would interest a radio show.
    Especially talk radio (which, as you tacitly assume, is mostly “conservative”.) They need people to call in, and they need those people to already know which side of the “controversy” they’re going to be on. IMO most people who listen to “talk radio” fantasize about calling in, but don’t. But they need to have an opinion to (fantasize about) call(ing) in about. No controversy, no opinion. “Gee, that’s nice” just doesn’t cut it.
    On the subject of talk radio being “conservative”, of course! Why would anybody not stuck in the last century bother with radio at all, when there’s blogs, BBS, and talkback on most on-line newspapers?

  12. D. C. Sessions
    May 9, 2009 at 11:07 am

    I once worked at a place where guys were encouraged to “be guys”

    I think punctuation makes meaning much clearer.
    I’ve never had a problem being a guy, but I’ve never been big on “being a guy.” The distinction is not trivial.

  13. D. C. Sessions
    May 9, 2009 at 11:07 am

    I once worked at a place where guys were encouraged to “be guys”

    I think punctuation makes meaning much clearer.
    I’ve never had a problem being a guy, but I’ve never been big on “being a guy.” The distinction is not trivial.

  14. stickypaws
    May 9, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    *Applause*

  15. May 9, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Z, your analysis sounds exactly right to me.

  16. May 9, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Just so I’m not myself misunderstood: I’m looking forward to the day when “feminism” is precisely as controversial as the abolition of slavery — and therefore, there won’t be any useful semantic content to the label “feminist.”

    For fuck’s sake, dude, no one gives a flying fuck what day you’re “looking forward to”. How about focusing on current reality, and not pie in the sky bullshit that has about as much likelihood of occurring in our lifetimes as establishing a permanent human colony on fucking Mars?

  17. Theresa
    May 9, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Amen, Zuska. If the rules you describe were *not* in effect, wouldn’t the fact that Dr Isis and her informants *needed to remain anonymous* be good evidence of a controversy, at a career-threatening level?
    > “there really is not enough controversy here for us to do a story”
    For “controversy” read “screaming catfight”?

  18. May 9, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Maybe. But I would have thought that if these ‘rules’ were key to how this thing would play out, that Isis being anonymous and pseudonymous would make the most sense as part of the controversy itself.
    I had suggested that this was a fake, but Isis confirms that it is not. I’m now leaning towards clueless person as best explanation. But the Zuska Model of Media Coverage of Feminists seems reasonable, notwithstanding.

  19. D. C. Sessions
    May 9, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    How about focusing on current reality

    Some people see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and ask why not?
    Put another way, some of us prefer lighting candles to cursing in the darkness.

  20. May 9, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Some people see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and ask why not?
    Put another way, some of us prefer lighting candles to cursing in the darkness.

    Do you have the slightest idea how obnoxiously condescending it is to show up at a feminist blog and start blathering about how fucking great it will be when feminism is obsolete? You are doing the opposite of “lighting candles” if by that you mean “showing the way to a better outcome”. Rather, you are insulting women who *are* actually trying to figure out what can be done, slapping them in the face with your male privilege.

  21. D. C. Sessions
    May 9, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Do you have the slightest idea how obnoxiously condescending it is to show up

    I bow to the Master.

    blathering about how fucking great it will be when feminism is obsolete?

    I rather suspect it’s about as objectionable as telling a multitude who grew up under Jim Crow about a day when one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
    If that’s the indictment, I’m proud to plead guilty.

  22. lurker
    May 9, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Sorry, DC, you’re no Dr. King.

  23. May 9, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    I rather suspect it’s about as objectionable as telling a multitude who grew up under Jim Crow about a day when one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!! Yeah, d00d blathering on a feminist blog about how great it’s gonna be when feminism is obsolete is totally exactly just like Martin Luther King preaching to his fellow black Americans about ending racism. I am sure all the laydeez are totally inspired by your eloquent d00dly call to action.

  24. Boots
    May 9, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    PhysioProf, I adore you.
    D.C., re. your dreaming: noise with inaction is just noise. Also, hello, wtf insulting. Are you always this oblivious and egotistical?

  25. D. C. Sessions
    May 9, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Sorry, DC, you’re no Dr. King.

    Damn straight I’m not — which is why I’m so flattered to be compared to him.

  26. Kathryn
    May 9, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    I am a woman, I definitely support women’s rights, and I agree with D.C. Sessions that once feminism achieves its goals, we won’t need to label anyone as a feminist any more.

  27. D. C. Sessions
    May 9, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    D.C., re. your dreaming: noise with inaction is just noise.

    Yup. I’ve made that point a time or two and Boy! Howdy! did it draw incoming.

  28. Kathryn
    May 9, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Oh, and to clarify: I meant the feminist goals of women being accepted as equals and the end of discrimination against women–not the whole “anti-man” agenda many people equate with feminism.

  29. May 9, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    You know, the one thing that has completely chapped my ass about this project and this discussion are the men who have suggested that the feminists are somehow hurting the cause of equality by focusing on the struggles women face. That by ignoring the menz or highlighting how far we still have to go, it reinforces the current disparity. There are a lot of men who seem to think that “Isis is doing it wrongz.” Yes, it’s lovely to think that there will be time when men and women are truly equal, but it also trivializes the current struggle.
    So I am going to basically summarize the reactions to the project:
    Women — “Yay! This is awesome!”
    Men, Group 1 — “This is pretty cool, Isis. Maybe I can learn something too.”
    Men, Group 2 — “I have concerns about this project.” “What about the men, Isis? You’re ruining science by not letting us play.”
    AS far as I am concerned, Group 2 can bite me.

  30. Boots
    May 9, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Damn straight I’m not — which is why I’m so flattered to be compared to him.

    Or which is why you flatter yourself so much by comparing yourself to him? Uh huh.

  31. May 9, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Zuska, I think you’ve nailed it. I inwardly cringe every time there’s a MSM report on women in the workplace (especially women in science), because of the “balanced” reporting.
    That said, I think that Letters to Our Daughters might might fit nicely on “This American Life”, which is focused people telling their stories.

  32. D. C. Sessions
    May 9, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Zuska, I think you’ve nailed it. I inwardly cringe every time there’s a MSM report on women in the workplace (especially women in science), because of the “balanced” reporting.

    That’s setting a meaninglessly low bar for cringeworthiness: the MSM insist on “balanced” reporting of everything, right down to the sale of African seven-year-old girls to HIV-positive creeps looking for the “virgins cure AIDS” treatment [1].
    There’s so much more work to be done WRT the status of women in the workplace [2] that reference to the MSM treatment of the subject is like reference to the comic-book treatment: there are glimmers here and there of enlightenment, totally drowned out by a flood of just how physioprofing clueless can you be?
    [1] Obligatory disclaimer: it has nothing to do with the continent, color, crushing poverty, or bias against the HIV-positive. The practice exists and is still beyond objectionable.
    [2] Not to mention everywhere else.

  33. May 9, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Dude, how fucking stupid are you that you continue to fail to understand that the women discussing this matter neither need nor want your d00dly advice on how they should be doing it? Or is it that you get it, but you are intentionally acting like an asshole?
    Either way, get a fucking grip, man.

  34. May 9, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    My general experience is that, in trying to describe how things should or could be, many men miss what is actually happening and opportunities to be real allies.

  35. May 9, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Forgive my old fart syndrome (OFS). But I have no clue what “MSM-syndrome” or “MSM” is suppose to stand for. Usually in my scientific writing I do as an example: Kiss My Ass (KMA) and then use KMA afterwords throughout. Is this post good enough to make your front page again? Someone, please explain MSM and I’ll read the entire article.

  36. becca
    May 9, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Zuska- I think you’ve nailed it (at least partially- it’s still possible this particular Someone was *also* clueless about the bloggysphere; irrespective of generation).
    I shudder to think of how a story contrasting Christina Hoff Sommers with the Letters to Our Daughter’s project would have gone. I sincerely *hope* our mysterious senior producer wouldn’t have sunk that low- but I can see the journalistic incentive for ‘controversy’, and I think you’re right that the very word feminism gives a lazy journalist very handy stock controversy.
    CPP- oh go soak your head.
    DC Sessions might/might not be clueless, but he’s said nothing on this thread which strikes me as anywhere near as batshit whackaloon as you thinking your petty vindictive bullying has any place in a constructive disscussion about feminism and the media.
    Go direct your vitriol at someone who deserves it (may I suggest Christina Hoff Sommers after reading Zuska’s link?).

  37. May 9, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Becca: If it was not for Physioprof, who would defend Zuska and the other women? (At least let him think he’s helping.)

  38. May 9, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    That’s setting a meaninglessly low bar for cringeworthiness: the MSM insist on “balanced” reporting of everything, right down to the sale of African seven-year-old girls to HIV-positive creeps looking for the “virgins cure AIDS” treatment [1].
    There’s so much more work to be done WRT the status of women in the workplace [2] that reference to the MSM treatment of the subject is like reference to the comic-book treatment: there are glimmers here and there of enlightenment, totally drowned out by a flood of just how physioprofing clueless can you be?

    So what exactly are you suggesting? That we shouldn’t bother discussing the way the MSM* reports on issues involving women because their reporting on other subjects is equally is bad? Of course there is more work to be done, but Zuska’s post was about the treatment of feminist subjects by the MSM, so that’s what we’re discussing here. At least that’s what I’m discussing.
    Anyway, I think it’s very shortsighted to dismiss the MSM because of its frequently awful reporting on political and social issues. Most of the general public does get their news from TV or newspapers (or information filtered from those sources onto talk shows), so an article in the New York Times or a segment on CNN can certainly influence the opinion of both the public and policymakers. Every time Sommers is quoted in one of these articles it provides legitimacy to her and her arguments.
    * Main Stream Media

  39. D. C. Sessions
    May 9, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    So what exactly are you suggesting? That we shouldn’t bother discussing the way the MSM* reports on issues involving women because their reporting on other subjects is equally is bad? Of course there is more work to be done, but Zuska’s post was about the treatment of feminist subjects by the MSM, so that’s what we’re discussing here. At least that’s what I’m discussing.

    I read Zuska’s post as being about more than the MSM. They screw up so much that you can pick almost anything that they touch as being badly treated.
    Women’s issues deserve better than to be lumped in with the rest of their stock (and usually trivial) cluelessness, so that’s how I read it: as being an instance of setting women up to fail and the public’s acceptance of cardboard-cutout stereotyping.

    Anyway, I think it’s very shortsighted to dismiss the MSM because of its frequently awful reporting on political and social issues.

    “Dismiss” as in “cease to take what they say seriously,” or “dismiss” as in “pretend that they don’t have power?” The first, I would hope any adult did long ago. The latter would be extremely foolish.
    However, what I meant above is that I don’t cringe at the MSM treatment of nontrivial issues like feminism only because I don’t expect them to handle even trivial issues competently. It’s like the things that toddlers say: you’d be embarrassed if a teen said them, but from a toddler you can’t expect any better.

  40. deatkin
    May 9, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    Comrade PhysioProf:
    I read your writings often, although I comment rarely, and once again I read your writings about feminism in general and women’s issues in academia specifically and come away with the impression that there is almost no way that I (or most other males) could have a positive interaction with you about these topics of discussion. Your presence in a thread can and does intimidate me into not commenting on the topic at hand, because I feel that if I support the feminist stance on the topic, then you will say something like “women don’t need you giving them your male approval”; if I take issue with the feminist stance on the topic, you will take this as evidence that I am anti-feminist/sexist on every issue under the sun and my opinions are not worth addressing; and, if I do neither of those two things and claim to have no particular opinion on the topic, then you will decry me as one of those silent majority males who are damaging the cause of feminism through inaction. I really, really can’t think of anything to say on women’s issues that won’t be met with your contempt, but there must be something, since you yourself are a male who says things about women’s issues, and I presume you find your own attitudes towards women acceptable.
    Now, I’m perfectly willing to accept that the problem lies with me on this; whereas you are a professor who interacts with women in an academic workplace setting on a frequent basis, are married, and grew up in a society in which the ways men exercised power and privilege were much more overt than they are currently, none of these things are true for me. In sum, I may simply be too immature (I’m 20 and a mere undergraduate) to think broadly and imaginatively enough on feminist issues in order for me to reach a conclusion that somebody such as yourself would find satisfactory. Perhaps this is the case for D.C. Sessions as well, perhaps it is not. But instead of attributing comments that you perceive as off-base to some insidious, malignant strain of male paternalism, isn’t it more likely that the person is someone like me, genuinely troubled by all the ways in which women are inhibited and made uncomfortable by men in society, but uncertain as to what attitudes we could hold that women would appreciate? Isn’t it possible that people like me are actually afraid that self-described male champions of feminism such as yourself will ridicule our attempts to communicate solidarity with feminism and embarrass us in front of the women we are trying to support? That’s definitely the case for me. If I had made the comments that D.C. Sessions posted earlier in the thread (not that I would, I’m more the “cursing the darkness” type) and was met with the responses that you provided, the chances of me ever commenting again on feminist issues on ScienceBlogs would be very slim. You would have created one of those silent majority, implicitly-supporting-the-status-quo males that you so despise.
    I know mockery is your style, and at times it can be devastatingly effective, but I think in this specific instance it was unwarranted and poisonous to the environment of this comment thread (to the point that I felt compelled to comment, which takes some doing). I feel that most men (in my age group, at least) want to support women’s issues, and maybe it is our fault if we support them inappropriately, but it is definitely your fault if we persist in our ways because you mocked rather than enlightened us. I would appreciate, but am certainly not demanding, a comment, detailing some of the ways in which you explicitly and constructively promote feminism in general and women in academia in particular, and providing some sort of template from which a male such as myself could go about doing the same. If ever there was an easy way to earn respect on the internet, such a comment would be it. If such a comment (or a full-blown post) already exists from you on such a matter I would appreciate direction to it, but perhaps a rehearsal would still be in order. Cheers.
    -deatkin

  41. May 9, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    @Peggy: Main Stream Media = MSM. Thanks. You helped an old fart (OF). Tomorrow is mother’s day. I wish all those women folk all the best for all you have done. All of us have women in are lives and of those mothers are the most important. Here is to all mothers (consider this a toast), as CPP would say you mothers-all-fucking-rock (MAFR). Be proud to be women. The attachment between mother and child is special. Nothing else compares. Happy Mother Day (HMD).

  42. May 9, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    I would appreciate, but am certainly not demanding, a comment, detailing some of the ways in which you explicitly and constructively promote feminism in general and women in academia in particular, and providing some sort of template from which a male such as myself could go about doing the same.

    Don’t give women suggestions about what you think they ought to do about institutionalized misogyny. Listen to women when they tell you what to do about institutionalized misogyny.
    This shit is not as fucking complicated as dumbshits like you and Sessions try to make it seem. But you obviously like to admire your own endless paragraphs of blithering bullshit.

  43. jc
    May 9, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    HAHAHAH! Physio, YOU’RE doing it wrongz! Join the club, man. No cover charge.
    deatkin, Feminism 101. go there.
    Zuska, yup.

  44. becca
    May 9, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    w.p. “(At least let him think he’s helping.)”
    Nope; not my job to validate him.
    deatkin- nicely said.
    For the record, CPP regularly makes me feel like my comments are unwelcome, and I’m a girl (last time I checked).
    CPP- are you sure your commenting on this thread isn’t a reflection of your own internalization of institutionalized misogyny? Cause it sure seems like you believe that feminists having an intelligent discussion about the way the media treats feminism just isn’t interesting enough without you injecting in mockery of random clueless d00ds.
    jc- yup. Doing it very wrongz indeed.

  45. Roi des Foux
    May 9, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Don’t give women suggestions about what you think they ought to do about institutionalized misogyny. Listen to women when they tell you what to do about institutionalized misogyny.

    Or to write it in one sentence: “A man’s role in the feminist movement is to follow women’s orders without contributing to the discussion.” Dude, you sound like the caricature of a feminist as described by Rush Limbaugh.

  46. May 10, 2009 at 12:35 am

    You know, CPP, you are an ass. Why do you speak for everyone and have the final word? You have once again completely hijacked a thread and totally moved it away from the original post so that is is obscured by your own egotistical roost-ruling attitude.
    I would like to go back to the original subject, if I have your permission (I am only a guy, and thereby clueless for all that.)
    It looks like what is happening here is that someone wants to take the “Letters to our daughters” project and do the same thing that was done when they bastardized the “Take our daughters to work day” into “Take our kids to work day.” That issue was presented as a day off for the girls from school, and the poor boys were being treated unfairly by the system because they were boys. “Reverse sexism,” they called it. And now it is a totally meaningless “Take your kids to work day,” that is a pre-packaged fun and games day where the kids spend about 2 minutes with the parent and the rest doing crossword puzzles and watching movies.
    Except that they can’t quite figure the angle from which they can do this, so they are turning it into something else, something more sinister.
    Me, I want more women in STEM not because I feel any particular penitence for being male, but because from an economic and societal standpoint, I think that suppressing the desire among young women to go into science and technology is a huge waste of talent when the need for a larger talent pool is growing more and more acute.
    If Dr. Isis’ project helps redress a waste of talent I am all for it (plus I also believe in the touchy-feely “follow your dream” stuff, but I had better not mention that lest I seem too patronizing.)

  47. Carlie
    May 10, 2009 at 6:48 am

    Or to write it in one sentence: “A man’s role in the feminist movement is to follow women’s orders without contributing to the discussion.”
    Seriously, you take “Stop talking and LISTEN for a minute” as “follow women’s orders”? You might want to check your privilege for just a second and consider that perhaps women who have lived with misogyny their entire lives just might know a tad bit more about it than men who have never had to stop and think about it, and that listening might be a way to learn something. Feminism 101, indeed.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    May 10, 2009 at 8:33 am

    CPP –
    What are YOU doing about institutionalized misogyny? Besides bellowing and lunging at the other males like a beachmaster defending his patch of sand and his harem?
    Remember Eldridge Cleaver’s statement: “You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem”? There’s another one: “You don’t have to teach people how to be human. You have to teach them how to stop being inhuman.” So what are you doing to become part of the solution and start teaching people to become less misogynist?

  49. May 10, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I didn’t totally mind D.C.’s comment, once he explained his point, actually. Telling feminists they need to be more farsighted is really problematic, but I think he clarified that that wasn’t what he was saying. I’m not quite sure how it’s relevant to point out that feminism is controversial because its goals haven’t been realized yet, but it didn’t strike me as offensively off-topic.
    CPP can be harsh, yes, but often he gets it right. And sometimes it really does help to have an ally call people out instead of that decision (let it slide or say something) always resting with feminist women. And since I think it did kind of sound like D.C. was telling feminists how to do things (even if that wasn’t the intended message), that kind of thing should get called out.
    If you feel like everything you say is wrong, listen and learn. I’m not telling you to shut up – I’m telling you to listen. Only when you have a strong sense of entitlement to have your voice heard in every single forum might those things sound the same.
    (Also, if your comments that are meant to agree with feminists are getting called out as sounding like you are bestowing your manly approval on the little ladies’ ideas, maybe you’re not wording them as well as you think…)

  50. May 10, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Anonymous Coward, calling people out on their shit is a way of making them more aware of the impact of their words. It’s not an empty gesture. As deatkin was pointing out, a person’s words and language can have a strong impact on others. Rape jokes communicate to men that rape is funny and not a serious problem (and maybe even okay). Woman-bashing conversations communally enforce a host of negative ideas. All kinds of comments about and against women can serve to silence any women present and remind them of “their place.” These aren’t empty words. And even if a person continues to think all that shit to themselves, if they stop vocalizing it, it stops reinforcing other people’s prejudices.
    We need allies. Feminist women aren’t always going to be present in every conversation, and if men start calling each other out on this shit, it might help communicate that it’s really NOT okay.
    Just don’t expect a cookie for it, or pat yourself on the back about it. Do it because it’s right and leave it at that. It’s just common decency.

  51. May 10, 2009 at 11:28 am

    CPP – I’m not sure if I’m understanding you.
    In real life (rather than on the internet) when feminism or institutionalized mysogny comes up in a discussion, are you saying that I should listen to the perspective of the women and attempt understand their perspective before I attempt to add to the discussion at all? And then, if a male attempts something barbarically stupid, whether or not feminists are present, I should call them on their shit so that they learn that their behavior is no longer acceptable?
    I can totally understand that perspective.
    Or are you suggesting that I’m not even potentially capable of contributing to the discussion, because I’m a male, and so my job is solely to smile, nod my head, listen, and then mock any male who doesn’t understand that our job isn’t to contribute anything.
    Because the latter just feels wrong to me.

  52. May 10, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    There is an article on the NYT on women bullying.
    http://community.nytimes.com/article/comments/2009/05/10/business/10women.html
    Much of it is the same old same old.

  53. May 10, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    I hope this isn’t considered hijacking the thread, but the connection is (for those who can’t otherwise follow it) from MSM treatment of feminism, to MSM treatment of women being maltreated (the reason there is a need for feminism) to MSM treatment of anyone being maltreated, and back to parental advice on how to deal with being maltreated, and to answer the comment by Isis regarding men who want their own “letters to our sons”.
    There already are a number of writings that fit in that category for men, the Prince, the Art of War. That is the whole purpose of boot camp in military training. That is the purpose of hazing when you join the military or any other male dominated group. The purpose is to give you the tools and the training to survive in that situation.
    When it is kill or be killed, you have to be able and willing to do the killing first in order to survive. That reality is not the “fault” of the participants; it is the natural and unavoidable consequence of the system they are “competing” in.
    When getting grants becomes more competitive, don’t be surprised when the more “competitive” researchers get the grants, not the most competent. As always, the easiest way to win any “competition” is to ensure that your opponents don’t even try. Bullying is a very effective way of achieving that.

  54. May 10, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    However, what I meant above is that I don’t cringe at the MSM treatment of nontrivial issues like feminism only because I don’t expect them to handle even trivial issues competently. It’s like the things that toddlers say: you’d be embarrassed if a teen said them, but from a toddler you can’t expect any better.

    Now I understand better what you meant. I disagree though that we should essentially give them a pass. It doesn’t make any sense to me to lump together all the bad reporting that is out there and ignore the fact that the MSM can do a good job. There is still excellent investigative reporting (just check the last Pulitzer awarded, for example), there are writers who do a good job covering science news, and often coverage of local events and local politics is quite good. What makes me especially cringe when issues concerning women are covered is that they aren’t given the same respect as other news items – for example, articles about women in the workplace are published in the lifestyle section, rather than the business section; and they are often seem to work hard trying to portray women’s issues as an “entertaining” catfight and to reinforce gender stereotypes than as news that affects half the population.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    May 10, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    volcanista – I “call people out on their shit” when I feel it’s necessary. And I was asking Comrade Physio Pfuck what HE had done to solve the problem.

  56. iltc
    May 10, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    CPP FTW! not listening is what makes me want to punch people.
    And Zuska: “Maybe find a female science student right on MRU who will proclaim, “I don’t want any “special help”!” ” Ohhh that is sooo true. So true it hurts. Don’t forget said female will need to also write a whiny editorial to the school newspaper about how she’s doing just fine and the rest of us should shut up.

  57. Pseudonymous Bravado
    May 10, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Comrade Physio Phuck! HA HA HA HA.
    You’re a douche, AC.

  58. Carlie
    May 10, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    Right, AC, and what CPP had just done to help solve the problem was to call certain people on this thread out on their shit. Have you even read the thread?

  59. May 10, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    I think you nailed it, Zuska. After all, the MSM are more than happy to put people on the air in shadow with distorted voices and fake hair and hats. Usually guys who are scared for their family or their career.
    What is wrong about putting “Dr. Isis” on the air? Nothing.
    What is wrong with hir idea? Nothing.

  60. becca
    May 10, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    Peggy- I think that any issue that is near and dear to our hearts is apt to be something where flaws in media coverage stand out like glaring neon lights.
    For example, there are precious few cases in the MSM I typically characterize as good science reporting (SB doesn’t count as MSM right?). As a microbiologist, everytime I hear reporters mix up viruses and bacteria, I get the urge to subject them to involuntary tattoos with the correct information printed on their arms.
    That said, the irritating treatment of “women’s issues” you describe is remarkably common. I’m also optimistic enough to be reasonably sure the MSM could do better.
    (Although “news that affects half the population!” is not necessarily the way I’d put it. Women’s issues really are of interest to everyone – which is part of what makes it silly to have articles about businesswomen only in the lifestyles section).
    “what CPP had just done to help solve the problem was to call certain people on this thread out on their shit.”
    You really think so?
    Let’s review: what CPP has just done was help PERPETUATE the problem by pretending that his own personal petty vendetta (he and DC have a history) had any fucking value whatsoever compared to a valid discussion of feminism in the media.
    When volcanista and Peggy disagreed with DC Sessions they expressed well-reasoned counter positions. This is what intelligent people do; it allows for clarification of the actual point of disagreement which is vastly more likely to lead to problem solving than antisocial tirades.
    Look, if you want CPP speaking for YOU, as an individual, that’s fine. Personally, I can swear a bluestreak myself if I am so inclined; I don’t see how ad hominin logical fallacies help the feminist cause; and I don’t buy that CPP is doing this to be an ally (as opposed to using it as an outlet for his own bizarre obsessive feuds).

  61. deatkin
    May 11, 2009 at 8:06 am

    “Don’t give women suggestions about what you think they ought to do about institutionalized misogyny. Listen to women when they tell you what to do about institutionalized misogyny.
    This shit is not as fucking complicated as dumbshits like you and Sessions try to make it seem. But you obviously like to admire your own endless paragraphs of blithering bullshit.”
    I don’t talk often, but when I do I talk a lot, because I really want people to come away from the conversation with the meaning I’m trying to give it. Sometimes they’re not interested in my meaning and I’m just wasting time, but sometimes they are and I wind up having a very rewarding day. So far, with Comrade PhysioProf, this appears to be an instance of the former, but that could yet change. CPP telling me to listen isn’t of much use when I’m already listening. The problem is, nobody’s really saying anything. And now I can hardly remember what it is I wish somebody would say.

  62. May 11, 2009 at 8:40 am

    I don’t talk often, but when I do I talk a lot, because I really want people to come away from the conversation with the meaning I’m trying to give it…The problem is, nobody’s really saying anything. And now I can hardly remember what it is I wish somebody would say.

    Oh little muffin, you had my sympathy for your adorable 20-year old self as you went toe-to-toe with PhysioProf until this very moment. If you’re going to interject your penis-bearing self into a feminist discussion and make the claim that noone is saying anything of value to you, then you need much, much more help than Womens Studies 101 can ever provide. You might need to go to feminist kindergarten.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    May 11, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    I’m getting flashbacks to the 60 and 70s feminist meetings I attended. And stopped attending after I heard the same shit from them as I heard from the guys in the SDS, BPP and the rest, just with a new label. If I wasn’t willing to toe their line, I weasn’t radical/feminist enough
    Exactly what do you propose to do to eliminate academic misogyny? Kill all the ones who stand between you and the coveted department chair?

  64. D. C. Sessions
    May 11, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Oh little muffin, you had my sympathy for your adorable 20-year old self as you went toe-to-toe with PhysioProf until this very moment. If you’re going to interject your penis-bearing self into a feminist discussion and make the claim that noone is saying anything of value to you, then you need much, much more help than Womens Studies 101 can ever provide.

    Cut the kid some slack, Isis. He’s right: the comments here have diverged from the original topic and have mostly become about personalities. That may be instructive in its way, but filtering the signal from the noise is a bit to demand of a self-confessed neophyte.

  65. J. J. Ramsey
    May 12, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Anonymous Coward: “Exactly what do you propose to do to eliminate academic misogyny? Kill all the ones who stand between you and the coveted department chair?”
    Actually, what Isis and Zuska and plenty of other feminists are doing is educating people about all the little and not-so-little ways that sexism gets reinforced.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: