The argument that gets trotted out time and time again in defense of dragging a wider range of people into the sciences lies along the lines of:

“Different types of people have different approaches to doing science. The more approaches you have in play, the quicker a given problem gets solved. So, increasing the proportion of black/gay/female people in the field will increase the diversity of thought in play, and make all our our scientific problems get solved a lot more quickly!”

Ha.

Ha ha ha ha ha.

Excuse me while I laugh bitterly over here, because this approach to increasing diversity is Really Fucking Racist. And sexist. And heteronormative.

Why? Because it assumes black people think differently about science than white people do. It assumes that women go about calculating things in a fundamentally different way than men do. It assumes– no, in fact, it requires– that all of these underrepresented groups should be given places at the table precisely because they’re so darn’ exotic, and that that dash of difference is going to save the field.

These assumptions– that men think differently from women, and that people of different races have fundamental, un-erasable cognitive differences– are pretty insulting once you stop to think about them.

I shouldn’t be allowed to do science because my warm and fuzzy woman-brain does math differently from a male’s brain. I should be allowed to do science because I’m as good (actually, better) than most guys are at math.

It doesn’t matter what color your skin is: by the time you’ve dragged yourself through years of rigorous training in your discipline, you’re not going to think terribly differently from your colleagues. Diversity of training will certainly foster diversity of thought. Diversity of types of genitalia in the office? Not so much.

So. I’ve (hopefully) dismantled that disingenuous reason for increasing diversity in the sciences. Now what? Am I saying it’s okay that my field remains dominated by white dudes? Do I think diversity has nothing to offer science? Of course not.

The real reason we need a wider range of people doing physics is because we need more people doing physics, period. Science is hard work, and not everyone is suited to it. In fact, very few people are, and I think we’ve already fully tapped the White Dude portion of the population that’s smart enough to handle time-dependent perturbation theory. We need more cooks in the kitchen in order to figure out what the hell the Higgs boson looks like, or how the universe began; if our current efforts were good enough, we’d have already figured this stuff out.

If we’re going to increase the number of minds working on the physic’s unsolved problems, we’re going to have to be less choosy about the skins that they come in.


I just want to hug all of the female figure skaters.

You are all awesome, young ladies.

Gold medals for everybody!

(That is all. I should clearly never be a figure skating judge.)


What the fuck kind of messed up logic goes through the minds of molesters and rapists?

How the fuck does anyone ever kid him/herself into thinking that, “Hey, touching some random young child’s genitals is fun for the whole family!”

Who the fuck seriously thinks that, “Making someone scream in terror and in pain while I force them to have sex with me is in no way a horrible crime!”

I mean, seriously?

Seriously???

There’s all of this information out there on the psychology of their victims: why they make appealing targets, what the aftermath of that abuse does to them, et-friggin’-cetera.

But there’s precious little out there on the thought-processes that let someone think that committing sexual assault or abuse is morally okay.

Nothing tells me how the people who do this manage to sleep at night; it remains a total mystery.

All of the focus out there is on their victims. Why, oh why, isn’t there more information on what is wrong with the predators in the first place? Why isn’t there more information on just what stupid rationalizations these people use to justify what they’ve done (or are about to do)? Why don’t we have more information on just how these idiots delude themselves into thinking they’re entitled to someone else’s body?

If the details of how that kind of pathology operates are kept from us, how the hell are we supposed to develop effective strategies for defusing it?

You hear me, psychology researchers everywhere? Do you hear me? Can you please GET ON THIS, ALREADY?


INTJ

06Feb10

Some co-workers were comparing their Myers-Briggs personality types around the water cooler this afternoon.

A lot of us in the sciences are introverts. You’d think a lot of us would also be thinking-types, or intuitive, but that doesn’t actually seem to be the case. No, what really seems to matter is the ability to hole up “by yourself” and work on stuff for hours on end.

I say “by yourself” because, honestly? Unless someone throws you in a cell without internet access, writing utensils, or any of your memories, how can you truly be alone? All of those things give other people access to you, albeit at varying degrees of remove. I wouldn’t carve the population into “introverts” and “extroverts,” were I in charge of writing these tests. Rather, I’d look to classify people based on how, not whether, they prefer to interact with others. Not that anyone’s asked me, but that seems like the kind of information that these tests are really trying suss out, however ineptly, in the first place.

But.
My main reason for getting on the internet and ranting about these things has less to do with how they’re constructed, and almost everything to do with how they’re construed.

See, the way people talk about these things (e.g., “Oh, I’m an ENFP, so that means that computer programmers will never make any sense to me.” or “I’m and ISTJ, so I’ve got a really strongly developed sense of right and wrong.”) makes it sound like these personality classifications are life-sentences. It’s as if, once the personality test of your choice has judged you and sorted you into this heap over there, you’re bound to remain there for the rest of your days.

It’s as if people view these things as inviolable judges of their fundamental characters.

They’re not.

They really, really are not.

They are a snapshot of who your are right now.

They give an overview of which patterns of behavior, given the circumstances that ensnare you at this very moment, you have decided to adopt. Your decisions about how to act, how to frame your thoughts, and how to judge the world around you are, undeniably, partly an expression of your very own special-snowflake-like soul. But they are also strongly dependent on the world that surrounds you.

If you decide at the age of 3, as I did, that you wanted to be an actress, you’d doubtless cultivate every scrap of extroversion you possessed to further that aim.

If you decide at the age of 14, as I also did, that figuring out how the whole damned world worked was the most important thing ever, you’d probably do your utmost to train yourself to become comfortable sitting in a room by yourself for hours on end, scribbling your calculus homework into submission.

So this business of casting everybody into different lots and saying “There you must stay, a {whatever} type of person until your dying day!” is just bullshit; people change constantly.

Or, as they wisely say on Wall Street: past performances aren’t always indicative of future returns.


God, I hate bras and shopping for bras, and finally finding one that works but not having enough money to buy up the store’s entire stock (which, when you’re my idiosyncratic shape, would still not be enough) so that you wear through the ones you have far faster than you’d like, and then when you go back to try to track down that one elusive type that worked, it’s disappeared without a trace into the Darwinian chaos of the marketplace.

I was wearing one today that works, kind-0f-almost-if-you-squint. It trades cleavage for comfort (where by ‘comfort’ I mean ‘the ability to raise one’s arms above her shoulders without dragging stiff, and frankly, totally worthless ‘support’ mechanisms over places where things SHOULD NEVER BE DRAGGED’) and– I mean, at that point, why not just go all the way and wear a corset? If I’m gonna be halfway incapacitated by my frickin’ underwear, why not get some benefit (i.e. a waist) out of it?

And no, I do not want to wear a sports bra. I’d like to work with what I have, thank you, not mummify it.

Yes, I’ve tried the internet. I’ve tried and I’ve tried, and because I am not rich, I can’t afford all of those wonderful seamless pretty things made in England or Morocco or Sweden that actually FIT.

Man, the ones that are on their last legs: they were perfect. No stupid underwires, simple but not sports bras, in the standard suite of unobtrusive shades… They are, in a word, comfortable.

It pisses me off, that all the women’s underwear for sale at Target and Walmart and other humble retailers like that are solely designed to PUSH YOUR TITS UP. That’s all they do! And they all do it in horribly uncomfortable ways! In ways that guarantee that you won’t be able to lift your arms up without catastrophically dislodging yourself from the garment.

They’re all in hideously garish colors and patterns, too.

Who the fuck designs this stuff?

Oh, right: men!

Jesus Christ, people: BRAS ARE NOT ORNAMENTS.

God.

Anyway.

When I am wealthy and powerful (or at least, more wealthy than I am, now), I’ll just have the damned things custom-made.

They’ll be comfortable, and pretty, and do nice-enough things for my figure, and they’ll be fucking embroidered with whatever the hell I want, and they’ll be made of super-soft, beautiful fabrics.

In the meantime, I’m girding myself for resort to some combinations of ACE bandages and homemade, band-aid pasties.




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