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Selling Science

January 31, 2011
What gimmicks do you use to market your science or engineering blog? I’m a fan of adorable fluffy animals or weird machines or sea creatures. Most engineers I know are visual people and a compelling photo with a hopefully interesting headline just might reel ’em in.

Scicurious recently posted Let’s talk about sex (in science). This brought up a rehash of the Science Cheerleaders (or the pretty girls can do science, but remember your number one priority is to be pretty in a traditional way, and by pretty we mean fuckable). You see a lot of bloggers posted about how they either get unprofessional comments on their appearance based on a blog profile headshot or how as professors they get unwelcome attention to their gender and body from students or other professors even. But the verdict was using sex or sexy themes might bring more attention to something, but it does not necessarily do a good job at selling said thing.

One of my fav commenters, jc (when you going to get your own blog and put all your great stuff there?) came out and said something perfect:

“Well, how many women WANT to come forward and say “You were called hot, I was called fat and ugly”?”

The Disturbance Hypothesis definitely holds up. Women are a disturbance to men, PERIOD. If you are too smart, you’re fucked. Too pretty, you’re fucked. Ugly, fat, brown, lesbian…fucked fucked fucked fucked. If you don’t wipe some moron’s ass, fucked. If you overshadow some moron’s ass with your brilliant study, fucked. Whatever the goalpost is for whatever whiny douche, you have to exist below it as a woman, or you are fucked.

Ain’t that the truth. I feel angry and left out and margianalized no matter how you throw the dice. I love Dr. Isis but every time she shows a picture of some hot woman it is like shoving my body hate right in my face when I least expect it. Believe it or not I think sciencey blogs do a good job at sheltering me from society’s ridiculous expectations. And I know she’s trying to present who she is without judging anybody else, but those pictures make me feel judged.

When I talk with coworkers about the douchebag mucky mucks who work here and get away with harrassment and skeeviness and mysoginistic behavior I’m angry that some of my female colleagues have to deal with this kind of unwanted attention. I’m angry the guys who do this have enough power to get away with it and that pretty much any young pretty woman can be a target. But then I’m reminded I don’t get this kind of attention and nobody is referring to me as “pretty” and that they don’t think of me that way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not “one of the guys” I’m pretty sure that’s a myth. It’s just that my not-as-standard level of female attractiveness or femininity puts me in the category of other.

An object to be ignored rather than objectified, and I don’t like either option. I’m angry that my male colleagues accuse women of bringing it upon themselves by dressing a certain way when I know that that doesn’t help but I feel disgusted that my own modest clothing choices are judged or publically applauded like it’s some ridiculous fucking contest of what ways we all meet or fail to meet the boys’ standards. It shouldn’t fucking matter how we all choose to dress, so shove it! This is my personal style not because exposing more or less skin means I think a man has any right to objectify me or any other woman. And I’m not talking about noting attractiveness inside one’s head, I’m talking about how there are engineers and there are women and some neanderthal male brains can’t allow anyone to fit in both categories, or are unable to just have a single category: engineer.

My senior project group members were talking with our company sponsor about purchasing materials. Most so far have come from Home Depot. My group is 75% female and they and the male sponsors started relating stories about either themselves or people they know walking into a hardware store and suddenly getting a ton of male attention. Or walking into a video game store. I nodded and laughed. But I felt like the quote from jc’s comment: to paraphrase, you were given attention but I’m so fat and ugly I wasn’t even noticed. And I felt sad. Sad that we stereotype that “pretty” women need extra help in a hardware store. Sad that like jc I get simultaneously sexually objectified but also rejected for unfeminine features or for my weight. Rarely do I walk the middle ground of being noticed and respected for my personality or my skills. Everytime I think I’m having a conversation with a colleague I get a cutting comment that reminds me I am at core a woman. And like all other women, I am an incorrect woman who does not meet their perfect standard.

I shouldn’t have to say props to the men in my life or the men in the blogosphere who do not objectify and do encourage and do not verbalize inappropriate comments and are able to see past all that shit. But I will say it because I hope these men can be the drivers of a culture shift as I don’t think we women can do it alone. So thanks allies and fuck off everyone else.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 31, 2011 4:39 am

    I love you and will keep commenting. No to the blogge.Ugh, I hate hardware stores. For all the reasons you mention. You should see what I ask for help with. I get alot of WTF looks. I stopped "looking nice" after the first month here. I also gained weight, from the depression. I haven't "done my hair" in months. When I am treatly badly and like a fuck fantasy by asshole colleagues, I shut down. It's time to leave. There is no perfect standard. It reminds me of shopping at different stores. If I go to a BigNameFruFru store, I might have to pull jeans that are a size 16 or XL shirts because everything is cut way small. If I go to BoxStore, the jeans that fit are 10 and shirts are M. Every environment is cut different. The cutters are all same assholes, but the standards shift from place to place.jc

  2. January 31, 2011 4:22 pm

    I think I mentioned somewhere about my hesitation in regards of wearing a skirt for a talk and when I finally did it I got "nice legs" and "wow, don't you look like a real woman now"… nothing about the science. From people who usually talked about my science, apparently I was a stunning woman (part of my brain was happy to hear it, other part screamed "RUN back to pants suit!!!")After that, I ended up being much more "post feministic" in my using of my body to get ahead. Men want to fuck it? Ok then, I'll use my body (looks/boobs) to make them do what I say … [extrapolation]Well, maybe not as much as this but somewhere in there is something even more sadder… that you have all these sexy woman manipulating men since they have that 'distracting' body. When it comes down to it though, I still think the women loses doing that.gosh. way to start a Monday morning there FrauTech 😉 (great post!! just me getting angry in the morning before coffee and alll)

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