Friday, June 03, 2011

Vox Day’s classy response to objectification of women scientists [updated]

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Dr. Tara C. Smith
Dr. Tara C. Smith

Most people will read this typically sexist piece by Vox Day and feel outrage and disgust, but the reason I keep reading his brain-droppings is because I am routinely amused at just how full of shit he is. Here’s his classy reaction to Dr. Tara C. Smith at Aetiology’s complaint about being objectified for her looks:

I'm ticked off and venting via dashed-off blog rant.... I know Mr. Salesguy was trying to be nice and probably thought he was flattering me, but fer chrissakes, that is NOT the way to go about it. Women in science already frequently feel like "The Other," that we're "too XX" to be good at what we do, that our possession of breasts surely must mean that we're too much of a fragile flower to be able to handle the "man's work" involved in science and academia, and that we need to go above and beyond what our male colleagues do just to feel the same level of acceptance and appreciation. I'm sure Mr. Salesguy has never thought about the plight of women in science before tonight (and I doubt that my conversation really made him think about it for more than a few fleeting seconds), but it really dragged down what had otherwise been a very nice few days of unadulterated sciencey goodness.

This is a beautiful example of what is one of my favorite female faux outrage poses. Certain women, usually those of average appearance, love to pretend to be furious because someone complimented them, which they believe gives them an excuse to talk to everyone they can get their hands on about the fact that someone thinks they are pretty or whatever. You'll notice you never see any genuinely gorgeous girl getting her thong in a twist over someone happening to recognize the obvious; she knows she's hot and it's no big deal.

… Yes, because when a woman is irritated at some dolt dismissing any possibility of her having a career other than being a Hollywood pin-up babe on the sole basis of her aesthetics, she’s obviously just flattered. And hiding it. Underneath her venting. For some reason.

Vox must be just incredibly in-tune with the female mind, because that makes absolutely no sense to me.

Of course, he then tries to use himself as an example why Dr. Smith’s complaint is just vain-minded bitching:

And the idea that one can be somehow damaged by one's looks defying the expectations of one's occupation is a ridiculous attempt to justify the "look at me, look at me" behavior. At my second book signing, which was a large Barnes & Noble event at which there were some 10 or 12 other much bigger-name SF/F authors, including Gordon R. Dickson, there must have been at least 10 people who told me I didn't look like a SF writer. I didn't take any offense, of course, or agonize about how this made it terribly difficult to be taken seriously as a writer. It was not exactly hard to ascertain what they meant by the comment given that in addition to being the youngest one there by a decade or more, I was also the only weightlifter in the bunch. SF/F writers are often fascinating conversationalists and I quite enjoy spending time with them, but as a general rule they tend not to make for the most physically imposing specimens of humanity.

Such cluelessness. Does Vox really think his experience as a male writer is somehow comparable to the experience of female scientists in a male-dominated line of work? Where one of the more controversial issues at the moment is specifically the lack of diversity and the presence of such sexist and boorish attitudes towards the few women who actually make it in the world of science? Just how badly does he have to miss the point to think that merely being an unusually youthful or physically fit author has anything to do with the plight of female scientists, who are not only covertly (when not overtly) objectified for their looks, but have their intellectual capabilities and achievements ignored or even dismissed because of a prevalent mindset that “pretty girls aren’t supposed to do science”?

There’s a reason why it’s so much more difficult for women scientists to make it compared to their male counterparts, and that is Vox Day and every other conceited prig like him.

But, just before you start thinking that Vox is all done with his diatribe:

So, Ms Dr Smith needn't worry. As an expert observer of the opposite sex, I don't think she's too pretty for science. I don't think she's pretty at all. I'm confident she can rest assured that most men who aren't of low sexual market value, like the scientists and atheists by whom she is customarily surrounded, will not take any notice of her unless she happens to perform some spectacular feats of science. Which is probably unlikely, since she's such a transparently superficial twit that she'll find it hard to pull her narcissistic nose out of her navel long enough to observe anything scientific.

Stay classy, Vox. Stay classy.

UPDATE: (06/23/11 12:00 AM) – He has responded!