A physicist commenting on a post about how a newspaper report of a social sciences paper (speculating on why the rate of rape by Israeli soldiers against Palestinian women is reportedly low) has whipped up somewhat of a rightwing frenzy (read Aunt B’s full post, where she was somewhat critical of physicist Standwick’s commentary on her own blog):
I admit to being willfully ignorant of the basics of feminist theory, but I suspect it’s along the lines of “all power boils down to sex,” which would mean that my assessment that women see rape in terms of sex and men in terms of power would be tautological. My point about the article is that, coming from the perspective of the natural sciences (I am a physicist), whenever you reach a conclusion in which any action produces the same result, your theory is essentially useless.
As Magniloquence points out, this is not a good look.
I also dislike it when people do the “I don’t know anything about it and I’m not going to bother looking it up, but I’m going to proceed to tell you how it’s wrong” thing.
When Standwick is challenged for unprofessionalism, she quibbles about how she wasn’t paid for her commentary on this article as if that somehow makes professional standards irrelevant to someone who is using her academic status to give her words authority, and then retreats into cant about how when one’s field is the majesty of the cosmos it makes studying human interactions seem “impossibly silly”.
If human behaviour is “impossibly silly”, then why does she bother to comment on it at all? Or is the “impossibly silly” claim just the transparent excuse that it seems to be to not bother to look deeper into the social science fields when she can dismiss them as not having the neat concreteness of astrophysics?
Now, here’s the special snowflake bit, invoked when one commentor takes an admittedly cheap shot at physicists:
Well, now I know why the profs in the rest of the STEM fields keep warning the grad students about the screwballs in the physics departments. Physicists have quite the reputation of being the embarrassing James-Watson shoot-your-mouth-off egocentric loonies of the hard sciences, which I keep cheerfully hoping is just a relic of the past and no longer true. I’ve been fortunate that this thread is the first time I’ve personally seen behavior supporting that reputation.
Here’s Stanwick’s comeback:
This is generally why I don’t like to argue with women. The temptation to abandon objectivity and resort to ad hominem is too strong, and the argument goes nowhere. Playing with the boys is so much easier, which is why I prefer to work in a male-dominated field.
Wow, it sure is “objective” to argue that one commentor’s statements are representative of an entire sex((Addendum: I once lent an SF book by a woman author to a male friend of whom I was deeply fond. My sentiments towards him changed from affection to confusion and later distaste after he returned it with a comment not just that he didn’t like it, which is a matter of personal taste, but with the judgement that “women can’t write Science Fiction”. The author was Hugo and Nebula award winner Lois McMaster Bujold, by the way, but the fallacy of his conclusion wouldn’t have mattered if the author was Ms Unknown from Schlubsville. ~tigtog)), isn’t it?
Standwick is playing the exceptionalist card, where she is the special snowflake who is unlike all those other silly women who can’t think straight. A lot of clever women seem to have an exceptionalist view of themselves as superior to other women and therefore they personally are equal to men without having to have a movement behind them, and those poor other inferior women should just accept their inferiority and quit complaining. Quite a few of these exceptionalists find that such sentiments expressed articulately can end up paying quite well, too: Ann Coulter, Phyllis Schlafly, Camille Paglia, Miranda Devine et al.
Obviously, I find this sort of “I’m all right Jack” mentality repugnant in the extreme. Standwick and others like her are buying into the status quo which denigrates women’s criticisms as intellectually substandard without a second thought, with what appears to be no more justification than pure sexist prejudice.