Scarfing with Rose, Day 1.
Yesterday I asked a out boy. He is older than me, works in retail and decided to put me in my place by describing me as barely tolerable and tedious after we met a year ago. Think twas a platonic coffee date I barely recall because I was suffering sunstroke and insomnia and he made me wait around for him – not really respecting me or my time. After being told I’m less attractive because I treat my asthmatic tabby (which death is better for her dignity even though House has said, there is no dignity in death, no such thing as good one!) than by someone who sees them as themselves as on an authority on me as a dull. He was straining C minus company, I totally went into to rant mode, sorry for those who saw less than my professional side but I love my cat…sorry about that but sometimes boundaries in life blur and I screwed that up. Apprentice level here – definitely lost points for the name calling and over sharing! No more guy stuff unless it’s a history of the evolution of Boylesque.
But it’s a good example of something I’ve been wanting to talk about and that’s the lack of well known female communications in science communications. As I recalled that day, it was a particularly hot day, I was feeling physically unwell and he was running late for our “hanging out” and I remember thinking to myself that anyone willing to waste my time this early on in a friendship probably wouldn’t value it later on (this truism is true!) and then as I did as girls are taught to be and replaced it with the *nice* thought parking in the city must be hard to get this morning for him. And that’s a problem I’ve noticed, girls and young women are encouraged to take an initial reaction such as “wasting my time” and make excuses for men as to “they must be more busy than me”. The day itself as far as my blurry memory a year or so ago, is what I can call was pleasantly nondescript and rather than bogart the conversation with all my thoughts and ideas and all the things I’m going to ever do in Peru like balloon over the Nazca lines or teach my cat to walk on a lead or venturing my opinions on the Higgs-Boson and should we be focussing on Earth based science rather than Mars due to climate change and I love GMO.
I shut the hell up and listened to him because I’ve been told I’m too mouthy and opinionated to be called nice, I let this man-child lead the way through Rundle Mall even though I was thinking about liminal characters in Norse sagas being outside the rules to achieve change but also sadly beneath them rendering them outside the social order and solace of belonging to the tribe and I liked Floki’s eye liner…apart from Brian Cox and Bill Nye and Sagan, I can name one science communicator that’s female because she’s my teacher.
Lacklustre and I went our seperate ways and I mistakenly thought he was attending our mutual friend’s wedding and I was trying to reach out since most of my people there are in the bridal party. Blue is my colour Leigh, just saying 😉 if it’s TARDIS blue, I want a divorce big sis!
Then I had the audacity a year later to see if that guy wanted to catch up over social media- the thing is, guys aren’t taught to be nice, not even when rejecting a woman and had the audacity to call me tolerable and tedious because I apparently did not impress this guy I’ll call Nero. Another male friend today in a car admitted to only listening to one of three words I said in a sentence – not very nice at all and tried to justify it with bad science. And I wondered how much of being described as barely tolerable or even worse tedious, of not being actively listened to by men as if it’s just an expectation because you are a woman and some *science* is used as an excuse for men to ignore your theories and thoughts and ideas have pushed perfectly capable and brilliant women out of science communication and education because they were poorly received by rude men-children?
I decided that last night’s encounter was more than terribly rude and by far most people don’t describe me as boring (crazy and fearless perhaps) but this teaching women to be nice and pliable, teaching them not to be expressive of anything contradictory to the predominant male paradigm or opinion in the room or not appealing to the male audience is a dynamic as educators because we are sliced up objectified body parts, we need to change this now. It reminds me of a press release yesterday of a study they did recently where participants remembered the body pieces as familiar rather photographs of a whole woman when the participants were shown images of both male and female images. It was both sexes that remembered the dismembered female images more easily recalled. We are talking women cut into pieces – largely this probably is because female body parts are dissected to sell products as cut-up corpses by the media but the good news is that this process seems to be reversible.
And for me, this seems to be the same for female opinions, our thoughts, our ideas have been similarly dismembered into sexy red pouts that the message never really gets through until all that left is what we sell as feminine and nice lips, baby. And by doing that, we are gutting an asset and points of view necessary to communicate to an entire audience. I made this mistake recently when I thought I needed red heels to sell the message I was an independent science communicator like River Song at the crash of the Byzantium in Doctor Who until I realised in my proposal for a paper that she was an image, created by a man and those shoes were designer also created by man to appeal to a male gaze even if Alex Kingston chose them. I still want those shoes, but now I want them for my empowerment and I love shoes.
Perhaps I should have expressed my opinion more that day, Nero, but I was trying to be nice and listen in the traditional female role of the adoring audience because I wanted you to like me. It’s time for women to give up being nice and wanting to be liked, because believe me, I know it’s hard to face rejection and be called names for shaking the status quo, but you are more than body parts and your brain and mouth have as much to say as your hand on your hips. Science needs many perspectives beyond that of the male gaze.
TL/DR: Please feel free to join in my project, Scarfing with Rose, to visit the Lonely Archaeologist FB page, post pictures and leave your experiences there. And red shoes, where do I get them?