Ponderings on Nature and its misogynistic stance

So with this whole Nature thing…  (You know, the one where one of the most well-known scientific research journals published a sexist story straight out of the 1950s… and now says they did nothing wrong, women have no sense of humor (except their wives), and they’re getting uptight over nothing etc. (Bingo!), and how dare women personally attack sexist asshats by calling them out etc.  Despite the well-written and polite explanations of how they are, in fact, doing harm by publishing a sexist story in what is one of the most well-known scientific research journals.  Etc.)

I’ve noticed in the comments that when a male feminist says something, the sexist asshats in general ignore him.

If they don’t ignore him, they’re at least a little polite to them.

When a female feminist says something without mincing words, they attack her.

When a female feminist says something couched in stereotypical female language (I’m sorry … I don’t mean to say… I don’t mean to offend you… etc.), they attack her.

UNLESS straight-talking female feminists have already said their bit, in which case the asshat praises her for her soft language.  Not like those other bitches.


Why is Nature doubling down on misogyny?

1. Because they can.
2. Because the men there are insecure and this is the only way that they can feel superior. So they’re taking every advantage that they can to keep women down.

We’re just flabbergasted that in this day and age OVERT sexism is still being countenanced at something that is (was?) supposed to be a top research journal.  While we’re not surprised that there’s still sexism, we are surprised that something like this is not only being allowed, but is so strongly encouraged by the establishment.  Generally at this point a statement has been released by the establishment saying that sexism will not be countenanced and the matter is being looked into.  The fact that even that hasn’t happened is dispiriting.

Many of our readers are more expert on feminism and the way these jerks keep women down.  Do you have any explanations for us?  And how can they be countered?  What is the best action for people to take?

Confidential to Ed Rybicki:  We know you’re going to hit our comment section because you google your name every day and this confidential is going to show up.  Therefore we are going to direct you to this post.  We apologize in advance for your clueless response to our post somehow not getting fished out of the spam filter… we’ve read your same clueless paragraph on so many different blogs at this point that we don’t really need to see it again.  Haven’t you done enough harm already?  Don’t you have some “science” to do?  We don’t care about your apology, but we are eagerly awaiting Nature’s.  Also, you haven’t hit Paul Anderson’s blog, despite his post being quoted (and linked to) all over places you’ve been.  We suspect it’s because you think he can beat you up.

19 Responses to “Ponderings on Nature and its misogynistic stance”

  1. Practical Parsimony Says:

    You are so right about male feminists no getting flack. And, I don’t mean in the comments. It is true in life. Any male who ever defended my feminist stance and objected to demeaning sexist remarks was met with no resistance. Okay, the last hour was spent reading all the comments, but I never saw the original article or a link to it. Maybe I missed it. Can you give me a link to the article being discussed?

  2. feMOMhist Says:

    hmmm Ok, so the feminist philosophers recently went on a sort of strike, refusing to participate in male dominated panels at conferences. I like that. However, mindful of the career-making status of a publication in Nature, that seems an unlikely option.

    Option two is for a coalition of like minded, powerful scientists (male and female) to approach the editorial board of Nature to get a damn apology, which should have been forthcoming immediately (replace “woman” with any ethnic or religious group in that stupid piece and it never would have been published), and a f*cking editorial policy regarding stupidity in the pages of prestigious.

    Option three -ignore the jackass since he seems to thrive on the attention, although that allows such behavior to go without consequences.

    Option four – indeed have bigger scientists kick his ass.

    I suspect Option two is probably the best, and may even be in the works.

  3. Yael Says:

    If I have data worthy of publishing in a glamormag, I will send it to Cell. I don’t even like Nature articles anyway and I hardly read them. Cell articles have a lot more meat and detail in them. Physicists would probably have PRL?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Science is ok too, right? Somehow I have more faith in AAAS. But I don’t keep up with it much.

      • Yael Says:

        I find that Science is even more abbreviated than Nature. Fine for entertainment reading, but I really detest trying to repeat experiments from there. At least they are not as obnoxious as Nature. And people in my field never seem to publish in Science anyway.

  4. First Gen American Says:

    Science is scary..you know why, because facts are subject to interpretation and not all the interpreters of facts are trustworthy or qualified to do so. People who aren’t in science fields tend to believe that all science is good science. Kind of like how some people think that everything a doctor says must be true…not all doctors are that great and not all of them diagnose things correctly. It’s just like every other profession out there. 10% is excellent, 10% is abysmal and the other 80% is passable.

    Quite a rant. I don’t dare sift through the previous articles as I’m afraid of getting sucked in. My own way of combatting sexism is excellence in the things I do. You can’t question great performance. I also tend to ignore a lot of it. Maybe it’s not the best approach but it’s worked for me.

  5. MutantSupermodel Says:

    Ok I must be the worst feminist in the world. I read the piece and thought they were making fun of the males who are stupid enough to think they can find undies in a supermarket. Plus they’re British. And those people have a weird sense of humor. See? Stereotypes abound.

    Personally I deal with Womanspace all the time but I refer to it as Manvision. I have two, well three now the Boyfriend’s moved in, males in my house. They can’t find ANYthing. Ever. I usually correct it by standing close to them and guiding them until FINALLY they spot it. It can take forever. But at least the men I live with won’t grow up thinking parallel universes are to blame.

    I dunno, maybe I’m too tired to see the harm in it. It made me laugh. At the men. Seriously.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I think Dr. Isis’s explanation may be the best. Though many of the other articles in that top link are excellent. The one on stereotype threat is quite good. And of course our own Micro Dr. O has a great response to it.

      Paul Anderson’s explanation is shorter and perhaps gets straight to the point:

      Finally Mr Gee, since Nature seems not to be discriminating about what fiction it publishes, I have three stories of my own you might wish to consider publishing in future issues of Nature:

      Gayspace (a hilarious tale of how gay people access parallel dimensions to look fabulous)

      Blackspace (a hilarious tale of how black people access parallel dimensions to be to be fast sprinters)

      Jewspace (a hilarious tale of how Jewish people access parallel dimensions to save money)

      Or maybe you’d have the sense not to publish these. Because they are offensive, and based on stereotypes. And you’d be right.

      The main problem is that it was published in a science journal and 1. addresses men as if they’re the only readers and 2. basically says that men may be useless at shopping but that’s because they’re busy thinking big sciencey thoughts. Women are only good at shopping. It’s ridiculous.

      I’m sure our other readers can chime in about why the story is actually not harmless.

    • Cloud Says:

      The author is actually South African. The editor is British.

      I think the thing that annoyed me most about that story was the fact that it was in such a prominent journal, and it perpetuated the idea that housework is something women do and men don’t/can’t do. This has three consequences: (1) if men really don’t do housework, then it makes it harder for women to achieve career success and also have a family; (2) this problem is frequently cited as the reason why women drop out of science, despite the fact that there are plainly a lot of women combining motherhood and science; (3) this then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and young women drop out of promising careers because “everyone” knows that it is impossible to combine said career with family life.

      I wrote about this much more coherently on my own blog.

      On the original topic of why this behavior by Nature is being allowed to stand… I don’t know. I’ve been surprised by that, too.

  6. chacha1 Says:

    nicoleandmaggie, I hope you don’t mind if I insert this address to an article from Science News. http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/335872/title/Odds_Are,_Its_Wrong

    Given this apparent acceptance of badly-done science with badly-drawn conclusions, it’s a wonder to me that anyone reads these journals at all.

    Re: the editorial policies of Nature: this is a prime example of why I counsel people to consider the source. My mom gets all worked up about political issues based entirely on unsubstantiated email forwards or editorials (!) in the Wall Street Journal, which is not exactly known for its impartiality even in its “reporting.” I know people who get all their health information from subscription-only newsletters funded primarily by supplement advertising. Editorial bias is not only real, it’s pervasive. In the publishing market as a whole, the only effective response on a personal level is to cancel the subscription.

    For those who might have contemplated publishing in Nature I have no advice. As a general comment, though, I work in the patent field; I’ve handled cases involving citation of hundreds of scientific journal articles. The ones from Nature have largely, to me, seemed to be the most speculative and least practical. So if your experiment is designed a bit vaguely and the results are kind of sketchy, maybe that’s the go-to place.

    I’d also say that both publishing AND research remain, in my observation, well-fortified citadels of sexism. And, in general, those who can’t write, edit.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      There was a good paper about this phenomenon in either the Atlantic or the New Yorker last year. I’m thinking it’s an Atul Gawande but it may have just been similar to one of his.

      No, not Atul Gawande. I’ll have to dig it up at work tomorrow.

  7. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    This “making fun of men” thing is a favorite of the supposed “skeptics” who are blind to the existence of systemic misogyny and oppression of women, and who view the issue as purely one of “sexism” of particular individuals. Gendered humor that “makes fun of men” for their “stupidity” or whatthef*ckever is only funny because everyone knows that despite whatever faults they are being mocked for, they still have all the privilege, and even though the women are “smarter”, the bitchez still do what they’re told, clean uppe, make sangwiches, etc.

    It is just like the court jester making fun of the king for being fat, stupid, farting, etc. The whole reason it’s funny is that everyone knows that if the king wanted to, he could have the jester beheaded.

  8. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    PRIVILEGE! Jeezus f*cke, I know how to speel!

  9. Science: It’s for everyone! | Supernova Condensate Says:

    […] is still rife in science, sadly. It’s sometimes quite overt too – provoking much deserved vitriolic responses. As for inspiring anyone into science, the people […]

  10. link love | Grumpy rumblings of the (formerly!) untenured Says:

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    […] So about 6 years ago, this douche named Ed Rybicki wrote a really sexist short story that inexcusably and inexplicably got published in Nature, because the board of Nature was (is?) full of sexist asshats.  We talk about it some in this post from November of 2011. […]

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