Archive | July, 2013

Emily Graslie: “Screwing up traditional conceptions about the sciences since 2013.”

29 Jul

Emily Graslie: “Screwing up traditional conceptions about the sciences since 2013.”

In June, I went to Montana to visit Emily Graslie, who runs the popular YouTube show The Brain Scoop, a show about the internal happenings of zoological museum collections.

One day during my stay we went on a short road trip out to Montana’s border with Idaho. The landscape there is beautiful. We drove for some way down a logging track before pulling over the car, getting out, and going for a short hike. Neither of us was wearing appropriate clothing, but the landscape was so beautiful that it couldn’t be resisted.

On our way back to the car, we found what looked like a complete skeleton on the side of the road. Emily had a small fit of excitement, and quickly set off down the path to the car to grab the equipment that she always has with her so that we could collect the specimen. . . .


When Rape Goes Viral [Newsweek]

25 Jul

When Rape Goes Viral [Newsweek]

What all these stories have in common is a wrenching Catch-22 at their core. For decades, the challenge facing anti-rape activists was to take what is often an intensely private crime—54 percent of sexual assaults are estimated to go unreported—and bring it to national attention as a pervasive crisis. Now that cases regularly crop up in which photos and videos of sexual assaults are circulated on social media, it’s becoming harder to argue that rape is anything but a public scourge. We are all bystanders. We all bear witness.

Yet the increased attention on social media often has tragic consequences for victims. They don’t just have to grapple with the physical and psychological ramifications of being sexually violated. They have to deal with the fact that everyone else knows what happened, too.


By Ann Friedman.

What it’s like doing philosophy in another department

25 Jul

What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?

I am working in a discipline that uses philosophy. I think it is it helpful to offer vignettes from the “territories” abroad. My job is solely on research in philosophy of this discipline. I am in a research team who are all, also, similarly inclined. The other all-male (tenured) colleagues just don’t seem to get it and never challenge that my work is not chosen to read whilst theirs is (chosen by each other). One in particular thinks that laughing about my work in public is both cool, funny and scholarly. Recently it started to go beyond a joke and is – I believe – a factor in a situation where I do not feel taken seriously as a scholar in my department and have been really unhappy in some ways in higher education and thought about leaving. I asked him if he would like to go for a drink…

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The Visual Intelligence of Pacific Rim [Storming the Ivory Tower]

23 Jul

The Visual Intelligence of Pacific Rim [Storming the Ivory Tower]

There’s more to Mako than just this scene and its impact on the rest of the film, of course, but I think the flashback and its visual language serves to demonstrate two things: first, Mako is a complex, wholly admirable female protagonist that probably has more depth than the male protagonist (which actually isn’t all that new–holla at my fellow Hermione and Eowyn fans), and second, the film is capable of saying complex things, but it says those things through visual symbolism. (CONSCIENCE EDIT: And just in case it’s not clear, I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing feminist criticism–I’m a feminist critic myself–I’m just suggesting that if we’re evaluating female characters, number of lines in this context is kind of a myopic way of going about it. There are other feminist criticisms of the film–like the overall number of women in the ground crew, for example–that are totally on point, I think. I just think Mako isn’t given nearly the credit she really deserves as a female protagonist.)


Hat-tip to my friend Jenn, who may have more Geek Cred than anyone else I know, for this one.


Taking Off My Pants [NY Times: The Score]

17 Jul

Taking Off My Pants [NY Times: The Score]

Any composer’s success — no matter how we each define it — is never, not ever, all about the music. I wish it were. It is not. For both the men and women among us, there is an inherent bitonality in the woman-composer label. It underscores the crises of female composers as unique in our field versus our art on our own terms. If a female composer embraces her label, and that label is used as a determining factor for an opportunity of any kind, is her music diminished, muted, because it was not evaluated on an even playing field with the music of men? If a male composer embraces the use of the “woman composer” label for his female peers, as a member of the group with the majority presence are his opportunities diminished because of a determining factor — gender — over which not one of us has control?

Composers work in a public sphere; those with a presence in any corner of our musical community have navigated and created that presence in part via interpersonal relationships. We write our best music, we meet people, we work with people, and slowly, with or through people we know, varied projects and collaborations emerge. While writing compelling music is our foundation, our vehicle of expression, our scaffolding for our livelihood, a composer’s life, career, presence in the artistic culture at large is also about much more than our music.



It’s time for an end to “women’s stories” [Salon]

15 Jul

It’s time for an end to “women’s stories” [Salon]

One more, from Salon’s Anna North.

I am tired of women’s stories.

Let me clarify: I am not tired of stories about women’s lives, stories that tell me something real about how a particular woman thinks or works or loves. But I am tired of “women’s stories,” stories that are supposed to be about a problem that afflicts “women.”

These stories, in mainstream American media, tend to fall into certain categories. There are the ones about when women should get married. There are the ones about how women balance work and their children, told with no discussion of these women’s race or class, and with a strange disregard for the possibility that said children might also have fathers. And then there are the ones about hookup culture.

Hookup culture stories are extremely popular. The latest, Kate Taylor’s “Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too” sits as of this writing at the top of the New York Times’ most-emailed list. It is about women at Penn, but it is essentially the same story as this one about women at UNC, and though less overtly polemical, it is also essentially the same story as thisand this and this. It’s not hard to see why these stories succeed: They are about very young women having lots of sex with multiple partners. They’re a lot like porn, except that instead of an orgasm you get a vague sense of free-floating anxiety.


How to Write About “Hookup Culture” (Ahem, New York Times) [Slate]

15 Jul

How to Write About “Hookup Culture” (Ahem, New York Times) [Slate]

And another, by Amanda Hess at Slate’s XXfactor blog. As Hess herself summarizes it on Twitter:

Tips for journalists who write about “the hook-up culture”: Talk to men, college grads, and non-Ivy kids


Pearl-Clutching Alert: Ambitious College Sluts Taking Over Campuses [Jezebel]

15 Jul

Pearl-Clutching Alert: Ambitious College Sluts Taking Over Campuses [Jezebel]

At Jezebel, a response to that NYT article I posted a couple of days ago.

I know, I know. Hold the phones. Did you not know women are doing this? Because THEY ARE DOING IT LADIES. They are also DOING IT ON PURPOSE! Bet you didn’t see that coming. (In my day, we did this too. We called it college.)

If it all stopped there, we might just go on about our day not thinking too much about this trend piece that feels two years too late. But that’s not all: Instead, we are treated to the ol’ switcheroo, where suddenly right after the portion of the story about smirky virginity loss and fun romps with dudes you can’t even have coffee with, the story shifts into (and never exits) a long list of regrets and concerns, including a story of rape. Whereas part one of the story reads like an episode of Girls, part two is an after-school special. 

Also quotes from Penn grad Dr. Logan Levkoff’s Response to the NYT’s ‘Sex on Campus’ over at the Huffington Post.

On being viewed as a token

15 Jul

What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?

I always enjoyed philosophy. When I decided to go into a PhD program, I don’t think I was prepared for what I experienced as a woman in the department. I was the only woman in the PhD program (albeit it was a very small department). Soon, I found myself on several committees. This was very exciting for me. Throughout my college and even high school career, I had always been a part of department, joining academic clubs, attending and/or running student conferences, etc. I learned about 2 years in that the only reason I was accepted and on the committees was because I was a woman. This was really hard to digest. I constantly questioned whether I was *good* enough to get a PhD in Philosophy. Thankfully my advisor was great and he tried to go to bat for me on several occasions. But unfortunately he was the only one…

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Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too [NY Times]

13 Jul

Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too [NY Times]

Their relationship, she noted, is not about the meeting of two souls.

“We don’t really like each other in person, sober,” she said, adding that “we literally can’t sit down and have coffee.”

Ask her why she hasn’t had a relationship at Penn, and she won’t complain about the death of courtship or men who won’t commit. Instead, she’ll talk about “cost-benefit” analyses and the “low risk and low investment costs” of hooking up.

“I positioned myself in college in such a way that I can’t have a meaningful romantic relationship, because I’m always busy and the people that I am interested in are always busy, too,” she said.

“And I know everyone says, ‘Make time, make time,’ ” said the woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity but agreed to be identified by her middle initial, which is A. “But there are so many other things going on in my life that I find so important that I just, like, can’t make time, and I don’t want to make time.”

via The Colby Echo (on Facebook)