Sexism and Sexiness, Science and Nature

I have mostly ignored the discussion surrounding the blog post on sexy female scientists. I don’t think it’s unimportant, but I didn’t have the energy to really dig into the many issues raised by the post. My opinion, if you’re curious, is probably most closely aligned to Sheril Kirshenbaum’s.

However, yesterday I also saw a blog post on a nurse-in at a Johnny Rocket’s in Kentucky. (Nurse-ins, for those of you who are not in any mommyblogger loops, are generally organized as a response to a business or organization asking a nursing mother to leave or nurse elsewhere. This is often in violation of state law, as forty-four states specifically allow women to nurse in any public or private location. Yes, including businesses. One day I will have a post about how nursing in public is a feminist cause, but today is not that day.) And, well, you can read the comments yourself. Some of them are supportive, some of them are willfully mis-interpreting the law, and then some are complaining about how they don’t want to see “dirty tits” or “gross-looking” women.

These two issues are really two sides of the same coin. They happen to be extremely relevant to my life — as I am a woman scientist, and a mother who has nursed her child in public — but they are merely two examples of the sexism that is still in society. Forget about whether I’ve contributed anything to our understanding of galaxy clusters, or whether I’m trying to provide the best nutrition for my son. Am I sexy? No? Well, then, clearly I have no value.

I don’t care what Lukeprog’s intentions were in posting that list. The sheer act of compiling and posting it is hardly different from the Consumerist commenters complaining about ugly women nursing in public. It’s treating women as objects of attraction first, and scientists, mothers, and members of society last.

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Rebecca

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07 2010

4 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. 1

    Nifty parallel, nicely made. And right.

  2. mkandefer #
    2

    The list was of sexy women scientists. No ordering was given on whether they were scientists first or sexy first. Then list acknowledges both properties. Your point would be more accurate if Lukeprog said that only these women should be scientists, just like the position only sexy women should breastfeed in public. Good arguments can be made on the ethics of posting such a list, but the parallels you make are not among them. For example, that objectifying women in this manner provides another way for others to see women as objects, rather than people.

  3. Rebecca #
    3

    The women scientists were selected on their perceived sexiness, which has nothing to do with their achievements as scientists. The act of selecting from a wide pool (of women scientists) based on one factor (sexiness) is indeed objectifying women.

  4. mkandefer #
    4

    I didn’t disagree with you that this was a form of objectifying women, in fact I say as much. I just don’t think your analogy is very good.


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