The point of calling out bad behavior.

DrugMonkey posts on a senior neuroscientist (and fellow of the AAAS) using social media to display his sexist stance towards women in his scientific field. (Too many unattractive women at the Society for Neuroscience meeting! Oh, the humanity!)

And, totally predictably, in both the comments on DrugMonkey's post and on the Twitters, there is the chorus of:

  • What's the big deal if one guy reveals himself to be a sexist jerk?
  • You're not arguing that we should limit his free speech, are you?
  • If you call him out like this, in public, there is no way the man will Learn and Grow, let alone issue a sincere apology. Be nicer!

Plus most of the rest of the squares on the BINGO card.

It's almost like people have something invested in denying the existence of gender bias among scientists, the phenomenon of a chilly climate in scientific professions, or even the possibility that Dario Maestripieri's Facebook post was maybe not the first observable piece of sexism a working scientist put out there for the world to see.

The thing is, that denial is also the denial of the actual lived experience of a hell of a lot of women in science (and in other fields -- I've been sexually harassed in both of the disciplines to which I've belonged).

I can't pretend to speak for everyone who calls out sexism like Maestripieri's, so I'll speak for myself. Here's what I want:

  1. I want to shine a bright light on all the sexist behaviors, big or small, so the folks who have managed not to notice them so far start noticing them, and so that they stop assuming their colleagues who point them out and complain about them are making a big deal out of nothing.
  2. I want the exposure of the sexist behaviors to push others in the community to take a stand on whether they're cool with these behaviors or would rather these behaviors stop. If you know about it and you don't think it's worth talking about, I want to know that about you -- it tells me something about you that might be useful for me to know as I choose my interactions.
  3. I want the people whose sexist behaviors are being called out to feel deeply uncomfortable -- at least as uncomfortable as their colleagues (and students) who are women have felt in the presence of these behaviors.
  4. I want people who voice their objections to sexist behaviors to have their exercise of free speech (in calling out the behaviors) be just as vigorously defended as the free speech rights of the people spouting sexist nonsense.
  5. I want the sexist behavior to stop so scientists who happen to be women can concentrate on the business of doing science (rather than responding to sexist behavior, swallowing their rage, etc.)

And, I'll level with you: while, in an ideal world, one would want the perpetrator of sexist behavior to Learn and Grow and Repent and make Sincere Apologies, I don't especially care if someone is still sexist in his heart as long as his behavior changes. It's the interactions with other people that make the climate that other people have to deal with. Once that part is fixed, we can talk strategy for saving souls.

92 responses so far

  • Thony C says:

    A message to all my fellow men, stop being fucking sexist!

    • DrPell says:

      You're not a man and you're a moron.

      • Pecunium says:

        Oh Pell... Where is the glory of your CV?

        For those who don't know... "Dr. Pell" is known to the denizens of Manboobz. He has claimed to be a nephew of Montgomery Clift, to be a doctor, a lawyer, a couch-potato who can do pull-ups (not chin-ups) so his shoulders are above the bar; in greater numbers than the US Marine Corps requires Marines to do.

        He says, "mature orgasms" come when a woman reacts to the chemicals in semen.

        He's also fond of racist imagery.

        So it's no real surprise to see him being a douchenozzle here.

        • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

          In other words, I've finally attracted a high quality troll!

          /crosses "attract high quality troll" off her bucket list.

          • Pecunium says:

            Persistent, perhaps. The quality of Pell is not his efforts in a single thread (though the meltdowns can be spectacular), it's his persistence.

            If he weren't so possessed of specific verbal tics (appeals to authority, while spouting patently false claims), and his amazing ability to be transparently wrong (off the top of my head he has claimed to be a lawyer, a doctor; and both, an adjunct professor at Princeton, a psychotherapist; specializing in women with sexual dysfunctions, and a nephew of Mongomery Clift. His age is late 20s, or early 50s, on the occasions he feels he needs it for verismilitude).

            If called on his inconsistencies the meltodowns are both epic, and unbelievably rapid.

          • Delft says:

            Congrats: You've discovered the origins of Mother Goose's rhyme! "I do not like thee DrPell..."

            And also on calling out the unacceptable behaviour.

    • Nick says:

      Ok, first of all, consider how old this sexist drugmonkey is. Second, before you make any judgment of behavior, consider the persons profession. I'll tell you one thing, I've been a professed scientist for at least two years now but my profession had been to repair stone chips on windshields for a while. Now, I choose to focus on computational linguistics and friendship. Maybe at some point, a young person may have befriended a professional, and maybe it made them feel comfortable. But the youth are not astute with years of contemplation, and their activity generally reflects that approximation. You basically want them to be perfect.

  • Kate Clancy says:

    Thanks for writing this, Janet.

    I was talking to some friends about this earlier. The reason I'm for this shaming is that this sexist remark occurred online, and Maestripieri is trying to situate himself as a science blogger. I have found that the science blogging community is pretty intolerant of oppressive behavior -- if the person doing the behavior realizes what happens, apologizes, all is forgiven. But if not, they're out. And I think this, combined with the ways in which science blogging operates as a more effective meritocracy than academia (there is unlimited space in the blogosphere, and so all quality work can rise to the top, plus we have a lot of very generous mentors), is what makes our community a strong one. A lot of people have had really powerful, important realizations about their own privilege from seeing people speak out about their own experiences (myself included), or by learning about appropriate, progressive social norms from our intolerance of wrongdoing.

    It's a better model than what we have in academia, because in academia we just whisper about inappropriate behavior, leaving people to get burned by sexists/racists/etc over and over again.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Now this is a five point plan I can get behind.

  • As one of Professor Maestripieri's FB friends, I saw this comment when it was posted, as well as the strong (but cordial) objections from some of his colleagues.

    The comment is surprising in the sense that Professor Maestripieri comes from a field that has a long history of amazingly accomplished female scientists. One could even argue that modern primatology was dominated by it's female leaders.

    I do, however, think it's important to bear in mind what Professor Maestripieri's comment is NOT.

    His comment is NOT insensitive. It would be insensitive to ask a friend who recently lost their spouse whether they are thinking about getting back into the dating scene. That's insensitive. This comment is not insensitive. It's kind of mean and quite shallow.

    His comment is NOT funny. It had no pith, wisdom, irony or wit to it. This comment is not funny. It's banal.

    His comment is NOT even accurate. Many neuroscientists that are women are amazingly beautiful people (physically and otherwise), as are many of the neuroscientists that are men and those that are not easily characterized as one or the other. And even if they are not classically physically beautiful, they are often still attractive spirits with plenty of things to say that are way wittier and more clever than Maestripieri's blunt FB comment.

    The public shaming in response to his comment is perhaps understandable. But I hope that a group of his close, enlightened colleagues will privately advise Professor Maestripieri to correct his unfortunate statements and to reach out to those that were hurt or insulted by his comments.

  • Jim Thomerson says:

    A good friend and colleague had a conscious inclination toward outrageous comments. He made an outrageous comment to one of our female colleagues. He did not know her history and did not know she was the plaintiff in a sexual harassment suit. His comment was intended to be humerous and harmless, but was not under the circumstances. I had a discussion with him about the difference between outrageous and inappropriate. I was pleased to see that he understood me and from then on modified his behavior appropriately.

  • [...] The point of calling out bad behavior. | Adventures in Ethics and Science says: October 17, 2012 at 8:31 am [...]

  • Grumble says:

    David, if the objections of Maestripieri's FB friends were "cordial," the objectors were doing a disservice to neuroscience, science, and society.

    I have zero obligation to be cordial, so I can call a spade a spade: Maestripieri is a sexist asshole who is a discredit to our profession.

    • hrs says:

      actually, failure to be cordial is a pretty sure way to discredit your opinion in the eyes of the person you are trying to correct. if you tell someone "you're a sexist asshole." they will probably say "fuck you" and not give further thought to your point.

      • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

        First, there is something deeply disturbing about someone saying, "I will recognize women's basic humanity but only if they ask me nicely!" Such a stance is not exactly the mark of a decent human being.

        Second, the point here is that if the community stands up to call out sexist behavior, then the "Fuck you!" response is only a live option if the perpetrator of the behavior that is being called out is prepared to exit the community. Which maybe is no great loss to the community.

      • idlemind says:

        So women are supposed to bow and scrape and say "please excuse me, your royal pen....highness." Sexist jerks deserve to be treated as sexist jerks, not as poor misguided children. What kind of a point does it make to be "polite" and thus subservient to his sense of self-importance? Doesn't that just reinforce his behavior? He can say "fuck you" and dismiss a woman's opinion as worthless, but the more he manifests such jerkiness, the sooner others will recognize his behavior as such.

      • Chris Rowan says:

        The remorse and/or redemption of the original perpetrator is surely but a secondary goal of calling out douchebaggery, far behind reinforcing social norms (don't act like a douchebag), deterring others from breaking those norms (if you do act like a douchebag, you will be called on it), and most importantly, provide the glimmers of a safe space for the victims (in event of douchebaggery, some of us have your back).

        The hurt feelings of someone being criticised for casually and publically insulting whole demographics is therefore also a secondary concern: although sometimes people are self-aware enough to think past their knee-jerk defensiveness and learn something, if the lesson is pounded hard enough.

      • Grumble says:

        hrs, others have said it, but since you replied to me, let me give it to you straight: I DO NOT GIVE A FLYING FUCK about "correcting" Maestripieri. No, instead I am very interested in making sure this asshat gets outed to the full extent possible, so that prospective students, post-docs, collaborators and employers (female and male) become aware of his proclivities and think twice before they subject themselves to his odious attitude.

        That is why he needs to be told publicly, to his face(book), that he is a sexist asshole. Not so he will change, but to attract attention to his words and actions.

      • Spiny Norman says:

        Nonsense.

        def: "warm and friendly : the atmosphere was cordial and relaxed."

        Feigning "warmth and friendliness" is not mandated when someone has just implicitly denied that you or your colleagues exist for any reason other than to serve as actual or potential receptacles for his penis.

        Precision is important. Honesty is important. False cordiality is not.

  • Instrument says:

    When I was very young, my even younger sister was a biter. After one incident my father (an otherwise intelligent man) insisted that I "bite her back, so she knows how it feels".

    I believe that my father would understand you desire that perpetrators "feel deeply uncomfortable -- at least as uncomfortable as their colleagues"; but then he was also comfortable with flogging and the death penalty.

    Of course he did not claim to be concerned with ethical concerns or the impact of his "solutions" on the rest of the community .

    • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

      I trust that you are not making the (oft heard) claim that having it pointed out that your behavior is sexist is just as harmful as being subjected to sexist behavior. Right?

      • Instrument says:

        It was your assertion that having it pointed out would make the perpetrator just as uncomfortable.

        I was questioning your support for retribution as an appropriate remedy.

        • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

          I don't think the point is retribution so much as discomfort. Discomfort can be instructive, especially when it alerts you to the fact that you are not treating members of your community as if they were actually fully members of your community.

  • DNLee says:

    Ive met him before. Seemed okay, but I was just a lowly grad student so noajpr words for me.
    I'm all for calling ___isr behavior out. And letting folks know that bad behavior is not tolerated (around me) and it a person of privilege &/or power, say a PI, Society officer or advisor doesnt call him out for this & reprimand him too, then it sends a clear message to those female/minority members.
    This kind of dehumanization is cute and you aren't a full member of the science club.

  • Hi. I called out Maestripieri on Twitter, too, and it got a bit of traction since I am apparently witty when irritated. As someone who was sexually harassed as both an undergraduate and graduate, and in fact who just had her academic achievements belittled a few weeks ago with the (public) assertion that I must have slept my way to where I am, I am deeply invested in outing and shaming these men.

    Why?

    Because polite encouragement of their behavior is merely what women are socialized to do whenever anyone, male or female, is an ass. Women are "nice" - this tends to translate in to not "seeking retribution" but instead falling under the "kind and caring" rubric. And men take advantage of that - consciously or otherwise. Accusing a woman of not being "nice" in her calling out of someone like Maestripieri is shifting the focus away from the bad behaviour and trying, instead, to de-legitimize the person (male or female) who is making the accusation of bad behaviour.

    And I am invested in this not only to make my own life easier, but because not everyone is made of such strong stuff as the women who do make it through the hell of graduate school and emerge with their PhDs. I've seen a lot of women chased away, broken by a system that rewards aggressive men and their sexual harassment of those women, and punishes the women for daring to be smart and pretty at the same time. (Hell, it nearly succeeded in chasing me away.)

    Men like Maestripieri who make sexist comments like this deserved to be hauled out and shown for what they are, not only so that colleagues can distance themselves and decide whether or not he is someone that they want their name associated with, but so that potential students can evaluate whether or not his personality is one that they want tangled up with theirs, and whether or not it's worth it to risk their academic career and legacy with the association.

  • Domsooch says:

    I'm not convinced that this is the reason that there are relatively fewer women in Science. Amercain women maybe, but not regular women. Seriously? Really? This is why you left or did not stay or whatever, whoever you are?
    So what some are saying is that sexism in academia the most npr listening 'enlightened', crowd of men that there is, is the reason women left? To do what ? Become plumbers ?!

    What are you really arguing for?
    Is it the environment? That makes it an unwelcoming environment so women will not continue their studies? Or is the putative sexist environment a tell for greater gender bias that creates a rigged system? This may have more merit, but I'd need a little more convincing. Simple numerical disparity does not count.

    Friendship/comraderie at some level is all about making certain innappropriate comments and there is an understanding that you don't really mean it. Its part of the joke!!! Your hard work and enlightenment earns you the priviledge of making certain inappropriate jokes. And because people know you, they realize you are kidding. Of course its all for naught if you actually objectify women etc. in reality, i know nothing about this guy, and will reserve judgement until more evidence is in. You guys who were so quick to call him an asshole, surely know him better than me. Do you really think this guy will fail women whose faculty search comittees he is a member of because they are not hot enough?! Will he really discount what they say because of what they are?
    Do please dish some more on this guy!
    Sometimes it just feels like a North Korean political rally around here.

    Now having covered myself in honey and knocked over the bees nest, I should add a qualifying statement, there is a whole generation of supposedly 'with it' but actually very creepy professors that will tend to stare at their colleagues chests from time to time. I wont try to defend them but other than creeping out co-eds, do their attitudes lead them to reject women students in favor of men? Are there enough of them to en masse, block women from carreres in science.

    In short, give me a better mechanism, and i might start believing it.

    • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

      Why can't you believe it on the say-so of the women who live it? Is your distrust of women's ability to describe their own experiences and choices really that profound?

      (Also, plenty of phenomena have been well established long before the relevant causal mechanisms were understood. The analgesic action of aspirin is just one example.)

    • American women aren't "regular" women?

      I'm sure that will come as news to about 155,796,000 women.

      I'd address the rest of your post, except for the fact that you're demanding women justify themselves to you rather than actually listening to the lived experiences of women, suggesting that you've got a misogynistic mindset problem that would make it more beneficial to go talk to the wall.

      • DrPell says:

        You really can't take seriously anything a female says. Just as we knew that morphine relieved pain long before we (sort of) knew the exact mechanism, science will eventurally show why females perceive reality in a bizarre way, misinterpret perfectly normal behaviour, are more paranoid, and are constantly projecting their internal feelings onto men. The female thinks about sex all day(about once every 10 seconds) and about how she looks to attract men and assumes that men are doing the same.
        But don't worry girls,we men will eventually figure out how that little hamster in your brain works and then condition you from childhood to think more normally. Perhaps even a drug treatment may work after we wean you off of those "antidepressants" you take, because you know life is like so hard for you living in a 1st world country.

        • DrPell says:

          And btw, why would you need moderation here unless your real intent is to censor comments you don't like that debunk your silliness?
          Any form of censorship is a lot worse that a comment made by some professor. If you censor comments it's no different than some female who puts her fingers in her ear and hums every time she hears something she doesn't like because something was said that doesn't fit into her feminist or pc brainwashing. It's childish and is one of the reasons that men just don't take females seriously. Always being on the defensive and thin skinned is a sign of insecurity and incompetence which is why he said that US females are not normal.

          • becca says:

            Obvious troll is... unoriginal.

          • Pecunium says:

            Because people exist who have, as their sole aim, disrupting meaningful discourse. I'm sorry Varpole ruined your most recent attempt at amusing yourself on Manboobz, "Otis".

            But if you are too thin-skinned to take someone trying to keep comments something like reasonable (and if I am replying to you, your charge of, "censorship" is peurile), why ought anyone take you seriously?

        • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

          Let the record reflect that I did not hire Dr.Pell to post here and demonstrate the continued existence of sexist nonsense. Sometimes the universe provides.

        • Crack Alack says:

          Poor Pell. Deep down, where the the sun don't shine, is a little boy deathly afraid that he's not superior to anyone.

          Heavens, how will he prove he's special?!

          • DrPell says:

            Appreantly the Boobettes over on the Fruitloops' site have nothing to do all day but troll wacky feminist blogs.
            Ignorant lower class fembots whose only reply to anything is either troll, or it's boring.
            They also like to look for a letter or comma out of place because in their little hamster brains this means they're a lot smarter than the writer.
            It's pathetic.

          • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

            Dr. Pell, you are becoming boring. Any further comments you post here will be unapproved.

    • Spiny Norman says:

      A verbose argument from personal incredulity. That puts you in with climate skeptics and creationists.

      Stay classy, Domsooch.

    • sleddog says:

      "Your hard work and enlightenment earns you the priviledge of making certain inappropriate jokes. And because people know you, they realize you are kidding."

      Let me guess... your inappropriate jokes are ok because you're friends with women. And oh, you have a black friend too. And your sister's hairdresser is gay. So those jokes are also fine. You don't mean it.

      Not to diminish your enlightenment or privilege or anything, but that argument is a poor one.

    • Spiny Norman says:

      ...oh, and who the fuck, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, casually calls undergrad women "co-eds"?

    • Elizabeth says:

      I invite you to be a woman for a few years and try it out for example in a field called Motor Control, part of the computational neuroscience sub field. Good luck there! as a woman I mean. Even with Cum Laude degree in Math / CS, all sorts of prestigious fellowships and such, and plenty of good out-of-the-box ideas that simply work way better than anything they have had in vogue for the past 30 years or so, as a woman you are dead in that sub-field of Neuroscience.

      Try it out, I invite you. You will not need any numbers or statistics to get convinced of X. One has really to experience it first hand as a female to gain the proper perspective. I have personally survived them because what I do is way out there and other fields picked it up, funded it big time and gave me green light to move on with my ideas and research plans. I call these fellows "The Talibans of Science". They stone to death new ideas and much more so if they come from a woman. Yet thankfully the system in the US is wonderful -the best by far!- one can always move forward if one learns it and takes advantage of loopholes here and there. No need to waste energy on fighting these types of men. And they are not the majority!!! I have plenty of wonderful male colleagues that respect my work. As for beauty and such, it is really over rated. In New Orleans I rather go for music and good food. This poor fellow from UChicago must be really deprived of a lot of things to go there searching for girls. I mean! for God's sake go to Bourbon street. He must have had his GPS confused.

  • [...] and Dr. Free-Ride have posts up right now about d00dly University of Chicago professor Dario Maestripieri who [...]

  • arvind says:

    I never get what the big fucking deal is about making someone truly repent and change either. I'll totally take pushing something underground any day! It's also funny that whoever advocates for "real" change in people is hardly ever affected by the bad behavior in question.

  • chicken salad sandwhich says:

    Oh nos! Some people think some people are ugly, and say so! I'll get around to thinking this is problematic the day after my female boss stops glancing at my crotch.

  • I am always kind of amazed at this idea that a person who is called out for saying something moronic is having their free speech "limited". They said something idiotic, which was then repeated over and over (with attribution!), with basically no effort on their part. Not only have they exercised their right to free speech- they've been given a megaphone, to boot!

  • Keating Willcox says:

    This is an interesting dialog.

    First, I am astonished at the level of rage. The professor made a comment about the looks, physical attractiveness of a group. Unlike rap music, he made no remarks regarding behavior or asking someone to perform any act. Granted, his words were poorly chosen. Had he chosen "handsome" or "well turned out" would the rage be the same?

    Second, I live in a world where almost all women's magazines, and other media are obsessed with looks, weight, fashion, shoes, makeup. This is the pure consumer response to what must be an endless urge by women to improve their looks. So, why is that fine, and what the professor said so craven and evil? Can you have it both ways?

    Third, the reason women get paid less has a lot to do with factors other than discrimination. There are lifestyle issues, family issues, choices made to spend less than 80 hours a week in the lab. These are all choices that keep the glass ceiling in place. Many companies that are smart are making choices so that they have a work environment better suited to families and caretakers, but by and large, society has extra rewards for those who give up family and leisure in return for working hard. See the work of Diana Furchtgott-Roth for details.

    Fourth, for those who were enraged, seeing these comments with such rage tells me that people who need to work around you need to keep their ideas to themselves. If they have a sense that someone is attractive, that thought should never be uttered. I have had fellow employees who were looking for injustice, and seeing comments which are simply tactless as "hate speech."

    Fifth, have you been fair, and been as outraged against the massively demeaning language of rap music, and while we are at it, the massively evil anti-semitic rantings of many middle east leaders? I find all of it distasteful.

    • rknop says:

      In other words, because X in a completely different context is worse than Y, we shouldn't complain about Y.

      That is, not to put too fine of a point on it, bullshit.

    • Grumble says:

      "Unlike rap music"...

      So rap music is now the standard be which professors are to be judged?

      "all women's magazines, and other media are obsessed with looks, weight, fashion, shoes, makeup... So, why is ... what the professor said so craven and evil?"

      Because he is commenting in the context of a scientific meeting, where the women are scientists -- and in that context, good looks are absolutely meaningless.

      "the reason women get paid less has a lot to do with factors other than discrimination..."

      Who the fuck cares? Everyone knows that there are many reasons for the glass ceiling. That doesn't mean we can't be angry about one of them.

      "or those who were enraged, seeing these comments with such rage tells me that people who need to work around you need to keep their ideas to themselves"

      Thanks for the psychoanalysis, but drawing inferences about people's personal and professional lives from angry blog comments is risky. Erm, I mean, it's utter bullshit. Not to mention irrelevant to the topic at hand.

      " have you been fair, and been as outraged against the massively demeaning language of rap music"

      I don't listen to rap music. I am, however, a neuroscientist. I care about how Professor Slimebucket's comments reflect on us as a group. And I care that colleagues of mine might be exposed to him, might end up working for or with him, might, in short, have to put up with him and his verbal ass grabbing. On the other hand, no one has to put up with rap music: we can just turn it off.

      • Juniper Shoemaker says:

        Yeah, this idea that you can't (use your right of free speech to) criticize bad behavior because there's "worse" behavior out there is bullshit. A number of platitudes suck but "two wrongs don't make a right" doesn't.

        Additionally, I find it interesting that whenever someone wants to discuss an example of male chauvinism in sci/skeptic social media, there inevitably arrive to the discussion defensive people who assume that no one is disgusted by the male chauvinism in this dreadful pop music that happens to be mostly made by black people and that a number of these individuals mysteriously find more horrifying than dreadful pop music that is mostly produced by white people but that also contains equally misogynistic messages many rap songs. Um, there's no shortage of people who unequivocally denounce misogynistic rap songs. A number of them are even-- gasp!-- black.

    • Tsu Dho Nimh says:

      "Second, I live in a world where almost all women's magazines, and other media are obsessed with looks, weight, fashion, shoes, makeup. This is the pure consumer response to what must be an endless urge by women to improve their looks. So, why is that fine, and what the professor said so craven and evil? Can you have it both ways?

      It was a science conference, not the Playboy club, not Fashion Week, and not a casting call.

    • Crack Alack says:

      The professor made a comment about the looks, physical attractiveness of a group. Unlike rap music, he made no remarks regarding behavior or asking someone to perform any act.

      Non sequitur AND and completely misunderstanding both of his "topics"!

      But, you got some responses, so you get a few points. You're still an ignorant douchedrizzle, though.

      TrollScore™: 6/10

  • Keating Willcox says:

    Here is an example of a good beat down...h/t/ huff po

    Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt is apparently not a fan of Sarah Silverman. In fact, if his open letter to her can be taken on its face, he's not a fan in general of uppity women who haven't made marriage and baby-making a priority.

    The letter, published on JewishPress.com, initially takes issue with Silverman's Let My People Vote campaign for its use of "biblical language," but his argument quickly shifts focus to the comedian's real crimes: focusing on her career rather than marrying and mothering her own "brood." Rosenblatt suggests that the reason for Silverman's political interests -- which he seems to think are new -- is the result of a hole in her life that can only be filled by traditional marriage and family.

    I think you have latched on to politics because you are searching for something to build. There is only so much pulling down one can do without feeling utterly destructive.... You are driven. You are passionate. I pray that you channel your drive and direct your passion to something positive, something that will make you a better and more positive person, something that will allow you to touch eternity and truly impact the world forever. I pray that you pursue marriage and, if you are so blessed, raise children.

    Jezebel writer Katie J.M. Baker reacted to the letter today with a scathing response:

    Why is Rabbi Rosenblatt so threatened by Sarah Silverman? Because — make no mistake — that's exactly what he is. He's clearly threatened by the fact that a 42-year-old childless (gasp!), unmarried (double gasp!) woman (TRIPLE GASP!) wields so much power and influence — and that she actually seems fulfilled by her unorthodox life choices.

    But most importantly, Silverman's dad took to the comments section on Rosenblatt's post and fired off a couple of warning shots:

    Hey asshole: Daughter #1 is a rabbi. Not by your standards. She's reform. How dare she, a lowly woman think god wants her to be a rabbi, created from a mere rib. Her hubby, three times nominated for a nobel peace prize was listed by the Jerusalem Post as the 49th most influential jew in the world built the worlds largest solar field in israel. By the way, Sarah was also on the list. I missed your name. Oldest granddaughter is serving in the Israel Defense Forces. I'm sure you also served.Oh I forgot the orthodox don't do that. You don't fuck with my family.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    "The professor made a comment about the looks, physical attractiveness of a group. Unlike rap music, he made no remarks regarding behavior or asking someone to perform any act. "

    Incorrect. Here's what he actually wrote:

    "What is going on? Are unattractive women particularly attracted to neuroscience? Are beautiful women particularly uninterested in the brain?"

    Take it slowly, since you apparently have difficulties with reading comprehension.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Do try to stay on point, Wilcox. This conversation is about what constitutes good professional conduct in the setting of scientific research. A topic about which it appears you have nothing to add.

  • [...] of some of the talk around the 'tubes, it's possible that you may be in the mood for a game of [...]

  • Domsooch says:

    Quiddich

  • RedFish says:

    I'll post this here too:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Dario_Maestripieri

    Apparently, a screenshot isn't proof enough to post this controversy to Wikipedia. Obviously we are all committing libel. Stupid feminists, making stuff up to keep men down

  • [...] Janet Stemwedel FTW Posted: October 19, 2012 | Author: rxnm | Filed under: Academia |Leave a comment » It’s almost like people have something invested in denying the existence of gender bias among scientists, the phenomenon of a chilly climate in scientific professions, or even the possibility that Dario Maestripieri’s Facebook post was maybe not the first observable piece of sexism a working scientist put out there for the world to see. The thing is, that denial is also the denial of the actual lived experience of a hell of a lot of women in science.http://scientopia.org/blogs/ethicsandscience/2012/10/17/the-point-of-calling-out-bad-behavior/ [...]

  • [...] to Maestripieri’s comments, including Dr. Janet Stemwedel who posted an eloquent rebuttal on Scientopia, which I highly recommend. Maestripieri’s overt sexism demeans female scientists, belittling [...]

  • marsupial 32 says:

    Did anyone check his website? He is only average in looks; nearly bald, sourpuss expression; average CV, and huge ego. Is there anything to like so far? I wouldn't give him a second look in a crowd. His address, phone and fax numbers are posted so contact him directly!

  • [...] (or lack thereof) of women at the Society for Neuroscience conference. Janet Stemwedel wrote a really nice post about what is wrong with this behavior and why we need to address it. This casual sexism is far [...]

  • [...] Janet Stemwedel has a sharp and to the point post on sexism among scientists, The point of calling out bad behavior. [...]

  • Mike says:

    Sexuality is about sexism. Having an interest in one gender over the other is all about making a decision purely on the basis of gender. That, again, IS sexism.

    Had this offending poster made the opposite observation, about how there are so many good looking women in science, would we be having this conversation? Had a woman said something about all the good looking male scientists, or about how the males were clueless about relating to women, would we be having this conversation?.

    I think not.

    • Cara says:

      You think wrong.

      Not only is sexuality not "about sexism" (ye gods what an idiotic thing to say), but the nature of the remarks about a woman's looks in a work context has nothing to do with whether they're sexist remarks or not.

      An alleged compliment to a woman's appearance is just a sneakier way of achieving the same goal--that of making it clear that a woman's primary function is decorative, that she is an object to be judged and not an actual person.

  • [...] is an evolutionary psychologist–go figure; also see this excellent comment and Janet’s post) This TB Screen Is Furry and Has a Tail Antibiotic-Resistant Bugs Go [...]

  • [...] is problematic and offensive have been written by, among others, Dr. Isis, DrugMonkey, and Janet D. Stemwedel. I encourage you to read these posts, and at least some of the comments, because I don’t [...]

  • [...] Closer to home, however, is the crazy, totally inappropriate facebook comment by a professor of neuroscience about the recent Society for Neuroscience meeting: “My impression of the Conference of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans. There are thousands of people at the conference and an unusually high concentration of unattractive women. The super model types are completely absent. What is going on? Are unattractive women particularly attracted to neuroscience? Are beautiful women particularly uninterested in the brain? No offense to anyone..”  (h/t to Drugmonkey, and see another great post by Dr. Freeride.) [...]

  • Dan L. says:

    Sexuality is about sexism. Having an interest in one gender over the other is all about making a decision purely on the basis of gender. That, again, IS sexism.

    No it's not. Not even remotely. You guys who have no idea what sexism is really have to stop trying to say what is or isn't sexism.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Mike typed: "I think not."

    Apparently.

  • [...] The point of calling out bad behavior. | Adventures in Ethics and Science: "And, I’ll level with you: while, in an ideal world, one would want the perpetrator of sexist behavior to Learn and Grow and Repent and make Sincere Apologies, I don’t especially care if someone is still sexist in his heart as long as his behavior changes. It’s the interactions with other people that make the climate that other people have to deal with. Once that part is fixed, we can talk strategy for saving souls." [...]

  • Thanks for this great post. I agree that we must shine a light on this behavior. I'm not sure how you've felt about this, but I was alarmed by the responses of those who were attempted to come to the defense of women in science, but doing it so poorly. I wrote about it here on Chronicle of Higher Education (Does this lab coat make me look fat?) in case you're interested.

    http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2012/10/23/does-this-lab-coat-make-me-look-fat/

    "Even more troubling than Maestripieri’s adolescent wailing is how some women have tacitly accepted his subjugating rhetoric. Rebuttals in which women say that they “know plenty of beautiful female neuroscientists” or insist, “Hey, I’m not ugly!,” miss the point to such a degree that even our advocates can’t advocate for us. "

  • [...] Here’s a quote from my article: "Even more troubling than Maestripieri’s adolescent wailing is how some women have tacitly accepted his subjugating rhetoric. Rebuttals in which women say that they “know plenty of beautiful female neuroscientists” or insist, “Hey, I’m not ugly!,” miss the point to such a degree that even our advocates can’t advocate for us."  The rest can be read here. I encourage you to weigh in and share your comments here or on The Chronicle of Higher Education I also really like Janet D. Stemwedel’s post here. [...]

  • Patrick Welsh says:

    Your blog post is right-on. And, I am male, and just emerged very scathed by a divorce that was, in my judgment and the judgment of multiple male and female attorneys involved, a flat-out reverse-sexist backlash. I was financially eviscerated, because I am a man. I was also denied all but 30% access to my children, after having shared them equally. I spent an enormous sum trying to have 50% access to my kids. According to attorneys, and a close friend of the judge, who happens to be female, I "got off easy" because she is "a man-hater."

    So I have (again, in my judgment), some evidence that there is, at least in my county in my state, an actual reverse-sexist judicial machine that punishes men for being men. I have no idea how small or big a problem this is compared to the sexism that I personally have been trying to fight (as coached originally by my Mom) for my entire professional career.

    I just want to point out, in this public thread, that there is sexist machinery in both directions now, and we need to police it all.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Yes, enough about the lives and struggles of women scientists. Let't all talk about the Life and Times of PATRICK WELSH.

  • [...] “And, I’ll level with you: while, in an ideal world, one would want the perpetrator of sexist behavior to Learn and Grow and Repent and make Sincere Apologies,I don’t especially care if someone is still sexist in his heart as long as his behavior changes. It’s the interactions with other people that make the climate that other people have to deal with. Once that part is fixed, we can talk strategy for saving souls.” The point of calling out bad behavior – Adventures in Ethics and Science [...]

  • G.Marie says:

    Thank you for writing this. Eloquent. And truthful.

  • [...] The point of calling out bad behavior. | Adventures in Ethics and Science [...]

  • [...] the blog Adventures in Ethics and Science, Janet D. Stemwedel of San José State University noted that some online comments have questioned [...]

  • […] Janet D. Stemwedel at Adventures in Ethics & Science calls out a senior neuroscientist for criticizing his women colleagues’ looks, and explains why we need to call out this kind of everyday sexism. […]