Saturday, February 19, 2005

she could play pretend, she could join the game

Rage, rage, go away. Oh yeah, and the rain can go take a hike as well.

I feel I am constantly managing internal explosions, because, already slightly simmering about the Harvard President's remarks about women in science, I got home late last night, turned on the television to welcome a new season of Bill Maher, and finally realized that I can't watch this guy anymore. Though I've often disagreed with him before, he's made legitimate points about the war on Iraq, the elections, Democrats, Republicans. Politics, in short. But, holy toledo, is he a misogynist. It's not the first time I realized this. It's the first time that it hit me so close to home that I just couldn't handle watching him anymore. To Bill Maher, I say:
  • Thanks for deciding to address this idea of women not being as capable in science and mathematics with a panel of solely XY's... I mean, unless you count Robin Williams under "other." It's a sad day when Robin Williams has to come to my defense.
  • Thanks for taking Dr. Nancy Hopkins to task for her departure from Dr. Summer's lecture, citing that Hopkins said she felt sick and that she might black out due to the President's remarks. Do I think Hopkins is girly? Yes. Would I roll my eyes at her if I heard her say something like this? Absolutely. Does it mean she is any less capable at conducting research on insertional mutagenesis in zebrafish? No, mother-effer, it does not. Emotion and scientific knowledge need not be mutually exclusive.
  • Are you still sore over last season, when Dr. Bernadine Healy, a woman, I might add, and a White House adviser, advised you to attend medical school because of your incorrect assumptions regarding the ills of drugs?
Look, I have no problem with someone stating an opinion that women may not be able to succeed in science. I have no problem with discourse on the notion that many women may not be able to balance their desire to have a family with the 80+ hour weeks that are required to become a tenured professor. Even though I think Dr. Summer forgot his decaf, as Salil pointed out, I don't have a problem with his concerns or questions. But I do have a problem with people that take this a step further, like Maher, and shrug and basically say "yeah, we do the hunting, they do the gathering." That's some old school b.s. right there.

But there's no point in going in circles on this. Salil pointed out that, of course, there are differences in innate capabilities. But will there ever be data that conclusively show that women, on the whole, are just not as intellectually capable at science and mathematics, baby-making tendencies and "Math Is Hard" Barbie's aside? I don't know. And if that is true, that there is a real trend there, isn't it even ten times more important to make sure that those women who do have an aptitude for science are given the same opportunities as men of their caliber?

Am I sensitive about this topic? Obviously a little too much. I think I need to make a pact with myself to stop writing about this. I get too fever-pitched about it, and then I start resembling a crazy person from crazy land.

Speaking of Bez-erkely, I went to see a fantastic one-woman show last night, called Bridge & Tunnel. It's in workshops here and will be moving to Broadway in Manhattan in the fall. It was heavy-handed in parts, but mostly, it was quite amazing to see one woman transform herself into so many different characters so adeptly. The characters almost seemed to occupy her. Also, one Australian character had the funniest lines I've heard in a while:
"You're like second-hand smoke
You seem harmless, but you're killing me."
Dudes, I just hope I have that quote handy when I encounter someone who needs to be told that, because that shit is hilarious. The Bezerkeley-ites almost ruined the show at a few points- they're prone to cheering and hooting and hollering in a way that a New York audience would just never consider. I'm actually quite fond of Berkeley, though I like to kid around about its extremist nature. Maybe you need to be an extremist to really make things happen. Or perhaps that is how I like to explain away my inability to enable change.

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