Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Problem when Sexism Sounds So Darn Friendly on the SciAM Blogs

According to the blog post author, The Problem when Sexism Sounds So Darn Friendly points out that this is a repost in light of current events, so you may have read this before. Like the author, I think this might be a good time for a revisit.

Melanie Tannenbaum, the author of The Problem when Sexism Sounds so Darn Friendly, comments on recent events, such as the controversy over the obituary for Yvonne Brill and the outcome when the author of I F-ing Love Science revealed that she was female, while referring to research into hostile and benevolent sexism. The research she quotes is from 1996 (17 years ago) so if anyone knows of an update, I would be happy to read more on this topic (benevolent sexism, not sexism in general). I am especially interested in light of this result:
...those who endorsed benevolent sexism were likely to admit that they also held explicit, hostile attitudes towards women (although one does not necessarily have to endorse these hostile attitudes in order to engage in benevolent sexism).
Tannenbaum also posits an example where benevolent sexism is alive and well, and working to the detriment of both men and women.
However, to those people who still may be tempted to argue that benevolent sexism is nothing more than an overreaction to well-intentioned compliments, let me pose this question: What happens when there is a predominant stereotype saying that women are better stay-at-home parents than men because they are inherently more caring, maternal, and compassionate? It seems nice enough, but how does this ideology affect the woman who wants to continue to work full time after having her first child and faces judgment from her colleagues who accuse her of neglecting her child? How does it affect the man who wants to stay at home with his newborn baby, only to discover that his company doesn’t offer paternity leave because they assume that women are the better candidates to be staying at home?
The post is worth a read, though, as I mentioned, I would like to know about more recent, possibly international research into these attitudes.

I also wanted to share my favorite comment from researching this post (and quoted in the linked article from The Guardian about the fracas) came from a person responding to all of the commenters* talking about the science blogger's lovely femaleness: "My fellow dudebros: Chillax. In science, sex is just a single genome characteristic,"

*And yes, I looked up commenter, since Google hated the spelling: commentator is for sports, commentor might still win in common use, though one source I checked suggested that "-er" is preferred over "-or" as a suffix (that explains computer, but not tormentor), and commenter just hasn't been added to the New Words and Slang. For now, I am going to use it, but let the best neologism win.

No comments: