Monday, July 17, 2006

"Your Boyfriend Must Have Done it For You"

Prof. Barres is transgendered, having completed the treatments that made him fully male 10 years ago.... Being first a female scientist and then a male scientist has given Prof. Barres a unique perspective on the debate over why women are so rare at the highest levels of academic science and math: He has experienced personally how each is treated by colleagues, mentors and rivals.

Great stuff.

5 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Jackie M. said...

My friend Andrea pegged on the sentence:

"People who do not know I am transgendered treat me with much more respect," he says. "I can even complete a whole sentence without being interrupted by a man."

Ha-ha. Good times, good times.

Me, right now I'm pegging on:

As the applause died down, one scientist turned to another and remarked what a great seminar it had been, adding, "Ben Barres's work is much better than his sister's."

Heh. He's sweet, isn't he, this clueless, clueless dude? (Susan G., are you reading this? I'm immersed up to my neck in anecdotes like this one... these are what make me so uncomfortable with your assertion that "no-one would ever be surprised to find out that a particular something was credited to a woman, not a man." Maybe... but, well, for what value of "surprise"?)

But what really, really stuck with me was the Ben Barres quote I read elsewhere:

"Women have heard this stuff so much from people like Larry Summers, some corner of their brain starts to believe it," he said.

Ow. Ow ow ow ow ow. See, THAT.... that is the real value of the Summers/Pinker discussion. Before all this started, I didn't realize that I kind of believed this shit.

So now the question is... how, exactly, do I talk myself out of believing it, deep down inside?

Susan said...

You are -so- misquoting me. I said that no professional SF editor would be surprised to find that a woman had written a good hard science fiction story. Not that some generic "no one" would ever be surprised to find that a woman had done some generic "something".

Susan said...

Wait! I think what I actually said was that no professional editor would be surprised to hear that a woman -could- write good hard SF. For any given story, of course anything might be surprising.

Jackie M. said...

Being a bit toasted around the edges after that discussion I was, of course, aware of how badly I was misquoting you. Or at least, it was a conscious decision on my part to make it more generic. Still, the clarification is useful. But I'll defer my specific objections to your correction for an e-mail which will be sent shortly...

Kameron Hurley said...

Before all this started, I didn't realize that I kind of believed this shit.

It's that whole "if you hear something often enough..." phenomenon. Which is why it's so important to speak up against people when they make broad statements and expect them to be taken as truth.

So now the question is... how, exactly, do I talk myself out of believing it, deep down inside?

For me, personally, it's an ongoing battle. I tend to be harder on myself than I likely should be, but that's what keeps me going, because I'm a lot more affected by media images and propaganga than I'd like to be. It's one reason I keep the blog: so I can yell or laugh at people who say things that don't jive with the reality that I'm actually living.

Because that's often the thing: people will talk on and on about "how things are" but the moment you stop and question that, you realize that your own experience just doesn't line up with their assumptions.

It's hard. I question a lot of my own base assumptions, and look at the subtext of everything I write, and examine the beliefs I hold. Nothing's "always" certain.