Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Where IS my outrage?

[note- this is a bit rambling, but I think it's important to get these thoughts out, ill-formed as they may be. And on the off-chance that you haven't read about Monica Byrne's experience, go do so now ]

I want to thank ScientistMother for her post last night, and for noting that only Isis explicitly reblogged Monica Byrne's story. I couldn't stop thinking about how my own response to DNLee's experience and Monica Byrne's experience differed so much.  Why was that? It felt pretty easy to stand with DNLee when some two-bit online marketer called her an "urban whore." Didn't require a second thought. Why not the same response for Byrne's story?

Because Bora has been a science blogger for so long? Well, I've never interacted with Bora online, and honestly I never did follow his blog.

Because he's an editor at SciAm blogs? Maybe, though I don't have any aspirations for deliberately trying to widen my blog's audience (if I did, posting something, anything, would be a step).

Because after what he did to Monica Byrne, he apparently didn't continue making sexual advances to her? Ok, but other women writers say he did the same to them (see comments on her post), and honestly, his apology is weak.

Because I didn't want to be seen as a trouble maker, or 'activist' in this regard? Whatever I write here may be read by people I'd want to hire me, and is this how I'd want them to see me?

Because I know of times where I know I've acted badly, and recognize there are surely times where I've acted badly without knowing it. So, who am I to judge?

It's been bothering me all night, and that's good- it should. Because it's not consistent to stand up loudly for DNLee and not for Monica Byrne. And because my thoughts above place the center on the incorrect location: either Bora, or me. The attention should be on Byrne, and then what is the best response

Monica Byrne wanted to talk to Bora about writing on science- Bora thought of Byrne (and the other women he did this to) purely as a potential sex partner. "I'm a very sexual person," he said. There's no way to see that as anything other than a disgusting and outrageous comment in a work setting. I still can't grasp what it would feel like to meet with someone about a cool new opportunity to write an article, a blog post, whatever- and then have that person make it clear that they don't give a shit about that. They just want to go to bed with you. And then integrate that over a lifetime of similar experiences? I have no words, cause I cannot conceive of it. Need more concrete examples? Read about Kathleen Raven's experiences.

This pisses me off. Any right thinking person knows these actions are horrendous and unacceptable. Behavior like this shouldn't be tolerated anywhere. I'm pissed off as a man, who is judged, reasonably so, as a possible creep by people who don't know me. I'm pissed off thinking about what experiences the women in my life (my mom, my wife, my daughter) have endured. But that's too narrow a focus. I'm pissed off that other people have to experience this. I don't really know what to do to address it. But the response overall has been somewhat muted, when more outrage is in order.

I want to thank Monica Byrne for her bravery in speaking up. I don't know what it feels like, but can only imagine it's incredibly difficult to do so.

Relevant links:
Priya Shetty has an excellent piece about the relative silence of the community's response.
Dr FreeRide's post
DrugMonkey's post
Odyssey's post

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A bit late, but still time to stand with DNLee

Perhaps you've heard of this through others in the science blogging commuity, but it needs to be said over and over again: this behavior is never acceptable, and must be called out as such. If you offer a science writer a change to blog at your site, and she refuses you, you don't call her whore. 

Go read about it at Isis's place here (after Scientific American removed DNLee's post), and also check out her follow up here

[it's another example showing the value of the web to learn about experiences of people different than you. As a white male in science, it's not likely someone would call me a whore if I refused their offer to do something. What would that feel like, especially when it's one more thing in a long line of similar experiences?]

Sunday, October 6, 2013


After a long, cold day of apple picking in the rain, not much can beat the first beef stew of the season.