Not a golden idea

CSIRO researchers have named a north Queensland fly the Scaptia (Plinthina) beyonceae fly. Beyonceae sounds a bit like Beyonce, you think? Well, yes! It is named after her! Specifically, it has a golden rear, and it is named after her own bottom! The person responsible for this is one CSIRO insect expert Bryan Lessard, who says this fly is the “all-time diva of flies,” according to an ABC article. Potentially Mr Lessard might have stopped to think about what this supposed tribute to a black woman’s hindquarters might entail.

Elle has all your historical context; crunktastic has thoughts on Disrespectability Politics: On Jay-Z’s Bitch, Beyonce’s ‘Fly’ Ass, and Black Girl Blue. Both are very worth reading.

Categories: gender & feminism, social justice

Tags: ,

7 replies

  1. Doesn’t he know that it was Kylie who wore the golden hot pants?
    Seriously though, megatons of WTF right there.

  2. Can’t say I’m surprised. While I respect the results CSIRO gets, my personal experience with them says “if a CSIRO lead reasearcher doesn’t appear to have xyr (almost always his) head up xyr arse, you better check again.”
    The organisation has this bad habit of promotion on the basis of time served, and of dismissing anything said by someone who hasn’t been a scientist for at least five years. It leads to more than a few disasters like the above.

  3. He could be your stereotypical nerdy scientist type who thinks he’s done something that she would appreciate. Cause it’s every lady’s dream to have a fly with a shiny bum named after them amirite? But yeah, a bit more sensitivity wouldn’t have gone astray.

  4. Medivh wote

    “if a CSIRO lead reasearcher doesn’t appear to have xyr (almost always his) head up xyr arse, you better check again.”

    Only because the fly’s arse is too small to fit a researcher’s head.
    I had a discussion the other day with someone clever whom I really should have been able to explain this to, and I ended up thinking “if you’d read what I’ve read”, and it’s like the KFC ad and Hey Hey it’s Blackface.
    1) Australians don’t recognise the patterns of racism used against African Americans.
    2) Beyonce trades on her rear, and sings “My body’s too bootylicious”, so invites this sort of comment and is rich because of it.
    3) Synecdoche is not a common word, stop making forests out of just one tree.
    Once again I have posted before eight and before coffee. Triple checked for disasters.

  5. Look, I’m sure Australians don’t recognise a lot of the patterns of racism used against African Americans. I know there’s a few I’ve had to actively learn from reading and keep in my head. But you can tell your friend that this is a pattern hardly limited to people of African descent in the United States – Sara Baartman, hello. I don’t see how you get to be a scientist and not aware of her story. Also, there are black women here, too. And, the thing is, Australians are routinely familiar with US popular culture; we’ve all heard “Baby Got Back”. Even if this guy has never heard comments about black women’s bottoms directly or in person, you don’t need to know anything about patterns of racism or how this is specifically offensive in order to realise that naming a fly, or anything, after someone’s rear end is not a compliment.

  6. Mindy @ 3 – well given he researches flies, its not unlikely that he actually seems them in a much more positive light compared to the rest of the population, most of which seem them as pests and associate them with disease.
    But as a general rule, if you’re going to name something after someone else who is alive then I think you really should ask them for permission first whether or not you think it is appropriate.

  7. Oops where I typed “seem(s)” read as “see(s)”. Apparently my brain is broken this morning.

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