Saturday, November 19, 2011

Nature Jumps Into the Sexism Morass

I saw this the other day, read the first few sentences and couldn't figure out what was going on. Or didn't want to believe that Nature, the premier British scientific journal, was publishing adolescent male musing on how different the female sex really is. But there it is. I found this today, from the Journal of Are You Fucking Kidding, of which the editor-in-commandant is apparently a sister chemist. So I went back to Nature, and indeed, the gameboy stuff was still there.

The writer wrote it, and he is defending it in the comment thread, apparently learning nothing on the way. An editor, probably more than one, had to approve it, which meant that they found nothing wrong with it and presumably liked it better than other things they might have published in its place. And it's fiction. I didn't know that Nature published fiction, so it seems that some special exception must have been made for the brilliance of this piece. (That's sarcasm; I'm feeling like the naivete is so thick that I have to explain every little thing.)

That sequence attests to a thoroughgoing sexism, apparently invisible to all involved.

And oh yes, it was written tongue-in-cheek, ha ha, the author tells us, so it's your fault, you sourpuss feminists, if you don't get it. No humor, ha ha.

All this stuff, as the editor-in-commandant is saying, is so old, it's hard to believe that the boys at Nature aren't aware of it. I think that's a big part of my disbelief. They've been hidden away in their labs and missed the last fifty years, I guess.

Update: Oh my, I see I'm quite late to this discussion. I'm still having a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that Nature actually published something so juvenile.

Mas: Scientific American is published by the Nature Publishing Group. But they've posted two of the best responses to Nature's idiocy, by Christie Wilcox and Janet Stemwedel. There is also a Twitter hashtag, #womenspace, for those who follow such things.

I simply could not imagine doing any better than this.

Womandate 11/20/11: Nature seems to have This masterpiece has been regendered. I have to admit that I thought about doing that myself, but I had several more important things to do, like removing the soaker hoses from the flowerbeds and setting up the heated birdbath. The regendering, which seems to consist only of replacing male names and pronouns with their female equivalents, shows even more vividly how poorly written this piece is and fails to do much more. Even the comments have been regendered. Given what I've read about Nature's editor, the man responsible for publishing the original idiocy, I suspect that this was his brilliant idea too. I was thinking of a more elaborate regendering, in which reversed sex roles might even generate a bit of satire. But I think I'll go wash out the summer birdbath instead.

I am told, via Twitter, that this is an automated function at I'll stick with my comments above as modified.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

worked great though. Nature's web stats are through the roof.....