Thursday, November 09, 2006

Egregious scientific male misbehavior

Vanderbilt astronomer Rob Knop tells a tale of egregious scientific male misbehavior in order to prove that academic science is hostile to women. He says that professor made some "inappropriate" remarks in a cafeteria conversation, including: "if you're male and straight, you can tell what a woman is thinking about you by looking in her eyes."

Maybe the prof has mindreading delusions; maybe he was making good conversation and his remarks were taken out of context; maybe he was flirting; maybe he was rude; maybe he was actually trying to annoy others; maybe he was oblivious to how someone might take offense. I do not have enough info to tell.

What is striking is that Knop is unable or unwilling to explain his objections. Those in the conversation were free to speak up and disagree, or to move to another table. It is not obvious whether anyone took offense. Knop apparently has his own rules for polite behavior that define when and where and how a prof is allowed to express his opinions or tell his personal stories, but he is unwilling to describe them. It appears that he believes that certain opinions should only be expressed to a male audience, but that is sexism of another sort, and he won't admit to that.

Knop is apparently still fuming over a previous blog post in which his department asked him to remove some inappropriate remarks from his blog. Well, that is the path you go down when you join the political correctness police and tell everyone what is and is not appropriate to say.


Rob Knop said...

You probably ought to actually read the post for which you have such disdain:

Is it any wonder that so many women feel uncomfortable in Physics and Astronomy? That astronomers are viewing them as pieces of meat rather than as other thinking, creative human beings?

Those were rhetorical questions, by the way.

I also have had the advantage of talking to the two women in the story, so I know for a fact that they were creeped out by the guy.


Roger said...

Did those women say that they were uncomfortable in Physics and Astronomy, or just that they didn't like some of the things that the prof said?

They might have also not liked his opinions on the Iraq War or a variety of other subjects. Would you like the prof to only talk to male colleagues?

Rob Knop said...

You know, it's also entirely possible that they might not have liked cheese, but that he would have eaten cheese sometimes in his life. You're right. It's all exactly comparable. How foolish and stupid of me for thinking that there was any difference.

And, yes, I guess, since I complained about blatant sexist behavior and inappropriate speech by a given professor, obviously what I'm suggesting is that the professor should henceforth only talk to the mirror.

I'm so glad that you have enlightened me in the oh-so-reasonable method of thinking that seems to support your continued adherence to denying that there might actually be a problem somewhere. Thank you. I feel oh-so-much better now.