Brian Krueger is the owner, creator and coder of LabSpaces by night and Next Generation Sequencer by day. He is currently the Director of Genomic Analysis and Technical Operations for the Institute of Genomic Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. In his blog you will find articles about technology, molecular biology, and editorial comments on the current state of science on the internet.
My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.
Please wait while my tweets load
With the launch of this year’s “Rock Stars of Science” campaign, there’s been a lot of talk about how to best promote science. I’m no marketing guru, but I am a scientist. This latest campaign is better than last years', only because it’s more diverse, but I think it really misses the boat. Is the public really going to be inspired by a couple of pictures in GQ of scientists looking uncomfortable and over dressed in the presence of Rock Stars? The most appalling aspect of this campaign is that there is no highlight of the researchers or their science. There truly are some science all stars in this group, many of which are well spoken.
However, the Rock Stars of science pages in GQ only list the scientist’s name and title, while the “Rock stars” get a one or two sentence summary of how awesome they are for standing in on these pictures. What’s the real focus of this campaign? To promote Bret Michaels’ latest reality TV dreck? If a reader wants to actually understand why these scientists were chosen and what they’re doing to cure disease, they have to visit the website. I find it hard to believe that this campaign will inspire them to make that extra effort.
The real challenge for science promotion is getting the message across without putting the target audience to sleep. This campaign may attract attention because of the celebrities involved, but a better job needs to be done highlighting the science. I’d like to see more emphasis placed on the science and much much less on the rock. How about pictures of the groups in well lit science labs? A shot of Timbaland culturing HeLa cells in a hood with an inset about how many advances have been made because of cell culture work? Or maybe a shot with Bret Michaels and his daughter with a diabetes researcher and another inset explaining how insulin works and how the researcher’s work is helping to eliminate the disease. I’m talking about a practical campaign here, not a bunch of cheesy glamour shots that do absolutely nothing to convey the amazing discoveries these scientists have made. For example, Elizabeth Blackburn is a part of this campaign. She’s one of the most inspiring female scientists of our time and the campaign organizers choose to stick her in a group shot with a “Rock Star?” She’s the real Rock Star. I only know that because I’m a scientist. The public would have no clue based on this half assed campaign. It really is a shame.
Further, this should be the Rock Stars of science, not the rock stars of holistic unscientific quackery medicine. Why the fuck is Mehmet Oz in this group? He’s not a rock star of anything other than self promotion and needless fear mongering. Sticking Dr. Oz in these pictures is an insult to the scientific community and medicine. The fact that he’s the only “Scientist” with an actual profile is just another sucker punch. Is this the best that we can do to promote science? I understand that it helps to have tangibles in the battle of science promotion, but let’s at least be prudent in our decisions. Mehmet Oz is only a few rungs higher than Jenny McCarthy on the “promoters of bullshit unmedicine” ladder.
Now, there are a few campaigns out there that are actually positive and doing great things. I’ll only highlight one because it has recently received some negative press in the blogosphere. The Science Cheerleaders are a group of current or former cheerleaders who are also amazing scientists. The group is spearheaded by Darlene Cavalier who is a former Philadelphia 76ers basketball team cheerleader. She is also the brains behind the Science for Citizens network which helps citizens find local science projects that they can participate in. Darlene is a science promotion powerhouse, to say the least, and her motivations are nothing short of spectacular so to see bloggers in the blogosphere pass such harsh judgment without first getting to know the specifics of the campaign or Darlene’s motivations is less than encouraging. Some bloggers have said they had a visceral negative reaction to this video:
Are you serious? There’s less cleavage there than you’d see at a highschool football game and the cheerleaders are wearing boy shorts, not skimpy skirts. I don’t think you could ask these women to be any more tasteful and still convey the fact that they are cheerleaders. In addition, the cheerleaders represent diversity in ethnicity, body shape, and their science. What more could you ask for in a science promotion campaign? Well spoken advocates maybe? Watch the video, these women aren’t bimbos. They’re doctors, lawyers, and researchers. They do the same exact thing we do every day in the lab. Don’t fault them for being beautiful and using that to their advantage to promote OUR field. Do we really have to take this argument to the lowest common denominator of “Isn’t this just a sex campaign?” Try telling that to the little girl in the video who wants to be a doctor or a lawyer AND a cheerleader.
There are many ways to get the attention of the public. One of these mechanisms is cheerleading. This sport is a staple of the education system. Cheerleaders are accepted as performers and athletes. They’re not strippers or prostitutes, and we shouldn’t be so quick to apply negative stereotypes to people without first hearing what they have to say. Would the blogosphere erupt in outcry if there was a ballet program performed promoting science? Those women and men are in skin tight leotards that leave absolutely nothing to the imagination. What about scientist figure skaters, or gymnasts? Would we decry the efforts of those performers too? I really think it’s unfortunate that scientists, whose job it is to look at data objectively, comment so subjectively. “I see boobs, execute pervert program and stop listening to the message, boobs, drool.”
Obviously we have a long way to go in the sciences to try to figure out how to best promote what we do. It seems that we either have a valium inspired “Rock Star” campaign that says absolutely nothing about science or we have an inspired informational campaign that’s poorly received by the community because science shouldn’t be sexy. Andrea Kuszewski, of Rogue Neuron, has a great post up about how science and sex shouldn’t be looked down upon and I encourage you all to read it. I think her analysis really gets to the heart of this issue. Scientists need to embrace the positive aspects of popular culture and use them to their advantage. Personally, I think the Science Cheerleaders are on the right track, and with a little work, the Rock Stars of science could be too.
This post has been viewed: 13170 time(s)
I'd like to repeat that my post, which you linked to when discussing "negative press" for the Science Cheerleaders, said this:
"We scientists need evangelists, and I don’t doubt for one second that these women are wonderful evangelists."
My feelings are conflicted -- that is, both positive and negative -- not just negative. But based on the trackback I'm seeing here and elsewhere, I did a better job expressing the gut reaction than my head reaction.
The more this goes on, the more I think I'll have another post on this.
I can't read Scicurious at Scientopia*, so if she's negative about Darlene's movement ... meh. Who cares.
*The third person shtick really pissed Thomas Joseph off.
Can we keep the comments on topic?
There's no need to troll here :)
Brian, there's a discussion to be had here, but your argument is incredibly simplistic. Are valium and sex our only avenues of science advocacy? True, cheerleaders aren't strippers or prostitutes, and they're without question true athletes, but do you honestly think there's no difference in the "sex" factor between cheerleading and that of ice skating or, say, swimming (even more skin showing than cheerleaders)?
Both on Andrea's post and here, the issues of whether scientists can/should be sexy and whether sexiness should be used to promote science are being conflated. Obviously there are hordes of hot scientists out there, and I don't think there's anyone anywhere who'd argue that male or female scientists should be ashamed of being attractive or not embrace their sexuality. But that alone does not make science cheerleaders an inherently good idea.
The science cheerleaders claim to be "busting up the stereotype," but which stereotype? The stereotype that scientists are unattractive, or the stereotype that cheerleaders are airheads? They purport to be doing the former, with the supposed intent of enlightening girls who (I guess?) would be reluctant to become scientists because it is an ugly person's career or whatever. However, they're presenting themselves as cheerleaders who do science, which is not the same as presenting yourself as a scientist who is also attractive.
There is a difference between saying "Scientists should not be afraid to dress nicely" and "Just because I'm hot doesn't mean I'm not smart, too." The first is the message that probably needs promoting; the latter is most of what I'm hearing. While the ultimate goal of science cheerleaders (getting girls interested in science) is certainly a laudable one, their MO misses the mark.
You ask an excellent question <i>"What more could you ask for in a science promotion campaign?"</i>
I could also ask for male cheerleaders. Or female football players. Who are also scientists.
If you are so very sure their outfits are so very appropriate, please ask for one and post a video of yourself doing the cheers online. If you REALLY believe that, why not even attach it to your online CV? Send a pic with every job application you send out.
Also, while my first thought re: "cheerleader" might be the movie "But I'm a Cheerleader!", I don't think you can make the claim any objections to this campaign that you quoted have anything to do with boob-obsessed perversion.
The title was meant to highlight the interpretation of both campaigns (one of which I agree with, the other not so much), not that they are the only options.
I don't think it's asking too much to say that people should listen to the message before damming the whole effort with faint praise. If you want to learn more about Darlene's work, visit her page and read about what they are doing. Obviously a two minute video is just a primer to get you to visit the site and see all of the outreach that the group is doing. The goal of the campaign is to break multiple stereotypes, and that's obvious.
Cheerleaders are well accepted at schools, at sporting events, in competitions, why can't they be used to draw attention to science in a positive light? This backlash is completely unwarranted and its propagated by long held stereotypes of what cheerleaders supposedly represent. Maybe that's one of the barriers they're trying to break down.
I always find it fascinating when people express surprise that certain individuals are very involved in science.
Examples (from the male gender) include Brian May (guitarist from Queen who has a PhD in Astrophysics) and Dexter Holland who has a MS in Molecular Biology and was pursuing his PhD before moving onto rock star-dom with The Offspring. It's as if rock-n-roll band members are idiots and could never be involved in science. Same goes for any number of male professional athletes who are often considered jocks, and hence ... idiots.
So Darlene happened to hit on the concept first, and used her own experiences as a cheerleader to promote her non-athletic calling. How this is a negative thing is beyond me.
There are plenty of male cheerleaders. You want some specifically for this campaign? Why not talk to Darlene. She's pretty cool and I doubt she'd be against recruitng some boys to help with the tricks.
I'm not a cheerleader. If I was a cheerleader and it was pertinent to the job application, of course I would include videos or pictures as a part of the portfolio just as I present an authorship list in my CV. Should I also include my art portfolio in my science CV, my trophy fish catches, pictures of my saltwater fish tank, drunken birthday pictures, my graduate school halloween costumes? I don't understand your argument here.
If enough people tell you, "This is what it means to me," it's worth considering that the representation is complex rather than their representation is invalid.
And Jews love money, black people are lazy welfare stealers, Mexicans love beans. Maybe people need to disregard the stereotypes and judge people and intiatives on a case by case basis.
Dude did my dad just hack your account? Either that or you just got super conservative?
No doubt it's controversial. I'm pretty sure Darlene considered that when starting this movement. It certainly generates buzz now and again, which I find hard to believe (in this instance) is a bad thing. What's worse ... news about a cancer researcher who also used to cheerlead for the Houston Texans, or news of scientific fraud?
I must have been channeling him, GR. But seriously, of all of the people in this world, I would hope that scientists could be the most rational in interpreting the meaning behind a campaign.
TJ, beyond unnecessary, your dismissiveness reflects poorly on you. Should I blow you off entirely if I were to hate the phrase "wherein our hero..."?
But, on topic: I think that Scicurious made all kinds of good points. Especially the part where they aren't doing science! But, in the comments Darlene mentioned that the actual program had more content than you can get from the exerpt. So, I guess that, like Dr. Zen I have mixed feelings about the Science Cheerleaders. I appreciate the idea of having advocates for science (=cheerleaders). I personally was not a cheerleader, because I would rather play the game than stand on the sideliines.
Brian, there is a difference between the cheerleaders comments and the string of racist stereotypes that you listed. First, all reasonable people agree that those are, in fact, stereotypes. If someone starts professing those in a work place, it is straightforward to call them out as a racist (I hope). But women have to deal all the time with the "sexy vs. smart" dichotomy and dealing with inappropriate behaviors at work.
Also, how did like 18 people comment during the time it took me to write + post that last one?
TJ, beyond unnecessary, your dismissiveness reflects poorly on you. Should I blow you off entirely if I were to hate the phrase "wherein our hero..."?
Not to be too much of a pedant but ... I've never used that phrase. That would be Rift's line.
Especially the part where they aren't doing science!
Even scientists don't always do science. So what? If you read through the website, and the interviews, you begin to notice that more than a few of these women are currently in STEM-related jobs now, and may or may not continue to cheerlead.
I personally was not a cheerleader, because I would rather play the game than stand on the sideliines.
Wow, talk about a comment that reflects poorly. You just attributed a blanket motive to every cheerleader, good job!
I know women scientists who's other activities include such things music (drummer), rock climbing, cross country bicycling, various athletic endeavors, painting, sculpture, horse riding (with jumping!), juggling, magic card tricks, etcetera, etcetera. There are a myriad of interesting and exciting avenues to get people's attention using women scientists. I can imagine a talent show type carnival featuring women scientist that would be quite fun.
In this case it seems the only thing relevant to the interest of girls is cheerleading.
That is why although the intentions are good, and I'm sure the campaign works to some degree, it feels a tad disappointing. We're ignoring a lot of potentially fun and interesting things to focus on the one thing I'm sure those girls have already heard plenty about.
@GertyZ, Now we're going to argue that some stereotypes are OK and others are not? Look past the boobs, visit the site. There's a page with like 20 videos of science cheerleaders talking about science and then a follow up by a science professor. There are profiles and video interviews of the cheerleaders talking about science.
I don't think these women should be shamed out of trying to combine two of their passions just because some people have a preconcievied notion of what cheerleaders stand for.
I have absolutely no problem with cheerleaders (or sexy people in general, for that matter) wanting to bash the stereotype that they're nothing but vapid eye candy. Hell, I tended bar all through grad school and was once told by one of my patrons that I was "too hot to be smart." People's attitudes are fucked up, and that needs to change, sure. But let's not kid ourselves that this is science advocacy. Just call it what it is--hot people advocacy.
Thanks, Brian! We really appreciate the support. Our target audience is vast, frankly. It doesn't include science bloggers but I'm happy to see folks from this community weighing in. Your comments are important. And ironic since I've heard so much from science bloggers about the need to increase public engagement and awareness of science. Didn't know there were so many strings attached! ;)
I'll be posting a longer version of the video so folks like SciCurious can see that there were indeed science cheers and that the science cheerleaders spent a LOT of time talking about science and engineering (to adults and kids), etc. Many of them are scientists who were cheerleaders so the idea that they are cheerleaders who happen to be scientists is a little misplaced but, again, it's impossible to decode all this from watching a 2 min video. As Brian mentioned, they're all interviewed on sciencecheerleader.com where we have the luxury of going into more details.
I'd also like to second something Dr. Zen posted (and I think he knows this): I wasn't offended in the least bit by your post, Dr. Zen. I found it to be honest and rather neutral. Same with the post by SciCurious. The real (absurd) negativity seems to consistently come from one or two trolling commentors.
Ok, thanks again, Brian. I hope we have a performance in FL so we can come cheer with you some day!
That was indeed what I thought. :) But as I said, I probably need to think and write some more.
I never said ANY stereotypes are OK. What I was trying to say is that, as a woman, I have to deal with meatheads at work. A lot. So if we can break down the smart vs. sexy dichotomy that would be super. I hope the cheerleaders can do that, but I'm skeptical. I'm just afraid that this campaign will not encourage people to take female scientists seriously. I hope I'm wrong.
@TJ: point 1--fair enough, point taken. But I maintain that your first comment was uncalled for. As for the "doing" of science, I was trying to express that I was in agreement with Scicurious's take on the cheerleaders. But I wasn't very articulate. I should have just referred back to her post. As for point 3:
I call bullshit. I never said anything about all cheerleaders. I made a comment about "I, personally". I don't claim to know why anyone else is/was or isn't/wasn't a cheerleader.
Completely off topic, but I was my school's mascot in college.
Gerty-Z, you can call bullshit all you want, but it doesn't change the fact that your words seem to imply plenty with your "I personally" and "I would rather" commentaries. Your comments, to this set of eyes, seemed rather dismissive of those who merely "stand on the sidelines". As someone who obviously played sports, being "sent to the sidelines" is clearly a negative ... and you did a good job equating that with cheerleading.
I was too, for a few games. XC and T&F got in the way though ... plus our bball team were a bunch of assclowns who sucked. I did like going to all the meet and greets for school kids though.
Brian, you are a scientist and science outreach could very much be construed as relevant to many job applications.
I already offered several suggestions to Darlene, and I strongly suspect we'll see some of them implemented if they are not logistically ridiculously tricky. She is indeed, quite cool.
So, keep in mind, I like her. I like most of the science cheerleaders, as people, from what I saw.
But I don't necessarily think what they are doing is good or useful to me. I will try to make the point simple this time, since it was too tricky the first time. I don't want to be represented by these cheerleaders.
Do you want people to think of that outfit when they think of your science? Do you want everyone to assume these people represent you, or at least what you *wish* you were?
"I would hope that scientists could be the most rational in interpreting the meaning behind a campaign."
And, of course, you, of all people, are THE authority on what being rational is? and what THE meaning behind a campaign is???
To logically consistently apply the argument that a campaign (i.e. a form of communication) can only have one intended meaning, you HAVE to assume that Fox news really is Fair and Balanced- they say that's their intention, so it MUST be true. C'mon. You can do better than that, Mr. Rationality.
This campaign says, 'yes, you can be sexually attractive and be a scientist'. It also says 'yes, it's important to be sexually attractive'. As a supposedly RATIONAL scientist, I would HOPE you would see the illogic inherant in that premise. And it's a message we send all the time, and one we send *differently* to women vs. men. This is really not that complicated.
P.S. If I love beans but not money, does that make me a sekrit mexican? I am confused.
I once dated a cheerleader. She was fucking smart. MS neuroscience and a researcher in a neurology department. And smoking hawt too. Epic WIN
I think that it's a real stretch to say she's attributing a blanket motive. It's a perfectly reasonable *personal* viewpoint, albeit perhaps skewed. I think it's somewhat mistaken as a way to view *all* cheerleading- competitive cheerleading is an awesome thing in its own right. Yes, people go to sporting events to just see cheerleaders. With no football or baksetball teams in sight. From a sheerly athletic perspective, what those cheerleaders do rocks.
But some of us like individual sports over team sports because we'd rather get all the glory than share it. Would saying that somehow cast aspersions on team sport players as excessively modest socially backwards shy-to-the-point-of-neuroticism cowards?
No becca, the rational conclusion to Fox news, after doing fact checking, is that it is absolute garbage. I encourage everyone to do a similar amount of fact checking on this topic before they apply blanket stereotypes to the initiative.
I have no problem having scientists represent science. If that means they act as tastefully dressed cheerleaders with a positive message filled with science, then I'm all for it.
I once dated a cheerleader in college who was a train smoke hottie, but fucking crazy. She was on the maximum dose of lithium. When it was good it was great, when it was bad put on you Kevlar vest and fucking dial 911 cuz there's gonna be a show.
See folks, if you can't BE smoking hawt and fucking smart, the next best thing is to brag about formerly being in possession of such a creature!
/sarcasm tailored for tideliar
Whatever there are smart women who are totes hawt. You can get a guy boner and a nerd boner at the same time, they aren't mutually exclusive.
You want rationality, I haz it! I went a googling for the demonstrated effects of exposure to cheerleading on gender stereotyping and such. Now, I'm still a-googling to find something there, but what I *did* find was too good not to share....some data that suggests that gender stereotyping douchepockey male athletes turn *less* douchetastic upon joining cheerleading!
The money quote:
"Virtually all informants who had not previously respected women’s athleticism reported changing their attitudes;
and all informants said that they had learned to better respect women’s leadership abilities and to value their friendship."
ATTENTION ATTENTION! I would like to make a new proposal (you heard it here first, folks!): science cheerleaders- the male PI edition!
Dude. I would kill to see this. DARLENE, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
GTFO! Im not fucking joking but the cheerleader I dated was manic bipolar! Did we noodle the same spaghetti bowl?!
Oh man, I pray to Jehovah I got mine first. I don't want sloppy seconds of mental instability.
Totes! Thankfully I am fucking hawt and a fucking genius (well, 98.5 %ile so only 'approaching genius', but still). However for the less hawt I think knobbing smart chicks is kind like aiming for a do-over y'kow. Kudos to ya.
Tiddles, was she blonde, please say she wasn't blonde?
Dude. No fuckken lie she was blonde. Petite, maybe 5'3ish. Fucking sweetheart, but damn if she forgot her magic pills, it was either FUCKKEN olympic sex or suicide watch. Sometimes both.
As a disclaimer, I admit I haven't had time to read the other blog posts mentioned (yet), but my initial reaction to what these women are doing is fairly positive. I had lots of friends in high school and college that were cheerleaders, and they loved what they did as much as I loved dancing. Some of them even went on to medical and law school and became quite successful in their fields. I guess, because of this, I never really attached a negative stereotype to cheerleaders. I do understand the initial gut reaction by some of the commenters to push-back against what might come across as objectifying. But, to me, this is just a means for these women to use something else they're good at to promote the science they're passionate about...it just doesn't seem like that bad of a thing, IMHO.
On a related note, I totally think GR should use his mad mascot-ing skillz to start promoting science. :)
How come the gender imbalance in STEM hasn't been rasied here?
On that video a little girl says she wants to be a scientist. Previously she might had said an Actress. So maybe a dozen little girls go home after seeing these intelligent, savvy and attractive women and says 'I want to do science'.
So one of her parents go off and buy a science book for her - maybe it's some amazing adventure to collect tree sap to cure malaria, or an edufictional book on dinosaurs or space travel.
Here's a list: http://www.science.org.au/pi/goodbooks/
Stereotpyes exist. But you know what, this is working in its favour. This is the kind of thing that challenges stereotypes.
I'm entirely with Brian - boobs and science are not mutually exclusive, and shouldn't be considered at odds. What's the alternative? Having Scientists hang out with musicians who (and let's play to the stereotype here) take drugs and sleep with groupies?
Dr. O, me and Genrepair are trying to Troll this thread. Could you please keep it off topic?
Awww, that's so cute. Anyone else think it's just adorable when the <3sigma people feel the compulsion to bring up their specific number?
And now, now boys, never EVER try to outbrag the bisexual chick when it comes to 'astonishingly hawt crazycheerleader chicks I've slept with'.Have you even watched House???
"More of a man than you'll ever be and more of a woman than you'll ever get."
Thank you, my work here is done.
Hey! Some scientist-musicians take drugs and sleep with groupies too. So i hear anyway.
I evidently stepped right in the middle of a Tideliar - GR cheerleading turf war...eww.
Phew, mine was only 5'1. She was quite charming, when she wasn't screaming about voices and holding a knife.
touche Becca. That quote reminds me of one of my favourite lines from Aliens
d00d marine: "Hey Ramirez, you ever been mistaken for a man?"
Ramirez (doing pull-ups): "No. Have you?"
I didn't grow up in the US, and we didn't have cheerleading. The idea of it seemed completely ridiculous, pointless, and clearly set in very sexist roots. But you know what? It works. It grabs attention. It generates interest. And it appeals to a wide range of audiences. Clearly it's working well since we are all talking about it..
That being said, when I saw them, I found they were actually pretty cool.
If I had my own personal cheerleading squad at my side, during tough times at work, the way football/basketball/baseball players do, I think it totally would up my morale! A bunch of up beat performers cheering for MY field, MY work. Hell yea. Sign me up, cause that sounds awesome!
I don't understand why some are finding this to be so distasteful. Cheerleading is considered a legit sport in the US. Kids start cheering and tumbling when they're 4-5 yrs old and continue to do so throughout their life if they so choose. This is not something that is socially unacceptable, or degrading.
The women in the vid presented themselves as strong empowered women. What could be better than that? If you watch the vid you'll see the ladies are not just doing a sexy dance to be sexy. The routines seem very tame and are not in any way inappropriate, at least imo. They happen to be gorgeous ladies performing, but you certainly cannot fault them for their looks, as I am sure no one would ever fault a scientist/engineer if their look was not appealing.
It's true that women often have to fight the sexy vs smart stereotype particularly in the workplace, but I honestly don't think this campaign will make that situation any worse than it already is. If anything, it'll show the women that they can be empowered and maybe find a way to make the creeps back off.
I've dealt w it, it's not fun. But it has nothing to do w me or those women, it has to do w the other people who are judging. The creepy dudes at work that stare at my boobs, they stare no matter what I wear, or how crappy I look. I'm often in the field, usually wearing a huge old, opaque, non clingy T, baggy pants and hiking boots, and they STILL stare. It's uncomfortable and I hate it, but it's not about me, it's about them. Those dudes would stare at your grama too.
The cheerleaders are doing what they have always done, cheer. And they are doing it for something they love and spend their life doing - SCIENCE and ENGINEERING. (That's a whole lot better imo than cheering for some pointless sports game.)
This is 2010 in America. With all the sex and other shit being used in advertisements, TV, music, video games, sports, you name it, why is Science somehow not allowed to use what it has to try and stir up some interest?
Bro. I lied about her height. This is making me equally nauseous and aroused. I've never been with a dusky-man-child before. But I now feel that vicariously you and I have shared an intimacy many men fear.
What were the first letter of her names?
Apparently you haven't played Left 4 Dead, because that shit mimics my daily interactions with some of my coworkers.
Sorry Tideliar - when I started writing my comment it was still a non-trolling thread. Y'all obviously type too fast. ;)
Hahah.. GR, you're right I don't, but I'll have to check it out now
The..ah...carpet was bare, as it were.... what's the euphamism for that? Hardwood?
Ah but my friend then you get into shades of wood, are we talking light birch or is floorplan completely mahogany.
Light birch mate, in her case.
I enjoy a polished ebony right now though. And you know what they say, once you've gone black, you'll never go back. So true...so true...
Dude, I'm tossing you the threadkiller seal of approval with post.
Evie, you win. Thanks for that perspective.
It's too bad that Rift and Dr. O had to get caught in the TideLiar/GR crossfire. Thanks guys, you're the bestest.
And from the blogs, there rose such a clatter... I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter...
I am egalitarian. I don't mind what colour your hair is, as long as you...[ENOUGH! Ed.]
I don't care if it is "all about sex" or "sex sells" ... because sure it does. The cheerleaders here do tell me that cheerleaders can be smart, and maybe as a side note "scientists can be sexy". But my boat is rocky since I wonder why it has to become play the game called "women can be sexy even if they are scientists".
Yeah. Well. 'Xcuse me for not rolling around and being super happy about it. But sure, I guess I can take the more optimistic view and state "later on maybe all us HOT women can get some attention being both HOT and scientists" ??? Although, all I would like is for someone to focus more on my data than my awesomeness/hotness/rack* and give it the attention it deservse without throwing myself on a blanket and shooting the "sexy scientist calender" since "hot doesn't equal stupid".
I'd love to have some good [female] scientists in the media who aren't SuperHot or cheerleaders since maybe it would be ok to be a "regular woman" as much as a "regular man" can be a supercool scientist? Just saying....
*it happens, I'm not that hot or my science is dang hot - who knows?! ^^
I guess what I tried to say was somthing along, p -> q, q-> p but p isn't always Q or vice versa
i.e. Sexy woman [cheerleader] could be smart [scientist] and Smart woman could be sexy. However, I don't want the messy situation to occur when it's Sexy = Smart = Sexy since it is a bit more complex than that, right?
BY the way......... I find it most interesting that the majority of people who have commented on my article, either directly in my own comment thread, or indirectly through the follow-up threads, like this one, have COMPLETELY missed the entire climax of my article. Isn't the climax the most important part? And the crayon was such a good analogy, too.<sad cheerleader face>
I may have to do a follow-up piece in this for those who had trouble getting the climax.... might as well put my therapy skills to good use.
@GN, There you go again making the peach crayon all phallic. The truthiness of that analogy is becoming more clear with every mention of it.
Seriously. You people doubt my genius therapy skillz... I know what I'm talking about. The peach crayon does exist!!! Maybe I'll do a behavioral analysis off this whole topic-reaction and add some enlightenment to how ya'll are proving my point for me whilst I sit back and watch.
I'm currently going through a 64ct box of Crayola brand crayons and do not see "peach." The peach is a lie.
Also, Brian... remember YOU were the one who pointed out the crayon/plallic similarities first...
Don't skimp on the size of the box. Go for the big one. It's there. UNLESS THE MALE DOMINATED SOCIETY STOLE ALL THE PEACH CRAYONS OF THE WORLD!!! IT'S A CONSPIRACY AGAINST WOMEN AND CHEERLEADERS AND SCIENCE!!!!!
(Where's that "Don't Panic" button?)
Here's a list of available crayola colors. Interestingly, the wikipedia article mentions that the Peach crayon was previously named "Flesh," but that changed in 1962.
79 Peach Hex #FFCFAB, baby. Brian, the ever-thorough scientist, has come to us with data to prove the existence of said peach crayon.
This is why the analogy failed miserably for me.
For one- for whatever reason (it had something to do with those little push pop lollys) one of the teenage catchphrases of my fiends was "PEACH IS NOT A FLAVOR!!!". So "the peach is a lie" cracks me up waaaaaaaay too much.
More importantly (and less idiosyncratically), the fact 'peach' used to be 'flesh' is not just a random historical anecdote to Zuskateers. We know that calling one color 'flesh' is discrimatory to other types of flesh (or at *least* chromatically challenged thinking). What do you want to bet *fewer* kids use it as exclusively a crayon for skin now that it has a different name?
This, above all else, makes the particular *choice* of analogy spectuaclar FAIL. The argument is "it's better to bring things out in the open". Yet Sapir-Whorf strikes again with a "NO! You need words to reliably conceptualize things. Given a less biased set of word-concepts, the sample-space of possible thoughts is relatively less biased". If you have less exposure to cultural memes of ojectifying women... well, it's unlikely to be a bad thing.
And you and me are free to be
you and me
do do do do do do do do do do
*happily goes and colors naked d00d cheerleaders with her peach and raw umber crayons*
Glad we were able to get you singing, Becca!
FYI, that was a 100% true story. My client did, indeed, have an obsession with the crayon labled "peach". It was a perfect analogy given the content of my argument, and the specific function that peach crayon served in his maladaptive behavior. The phallic comparison was noticed and pointed out later—pure serendipitous coincidence.
Incidentally, he was able to overcome his inappropriate behavior and expectations surrounding the peach crayon; if a 6 year old child with Aspergers and OCD can do it, I have faith in you as well.
By the way Becca, what on earth is a "Zuskateer"? And what does it have to do with this post?
GR: "Completely off topic, but I was my school's mascot in college."
Why does that not surprise me? :-)
Don't see the issue with Darlene's approach to engaging girls to look at scientists in a different light. There was an article recently that said kids associate scientists with old men. So really, we can't do any worse with our public image than the current opinion and maybe this will improve the public perception of scientists being evil or egotistical (a la Venter).
Why not show girls that being a scientist doesn't mean you can't also be feminine? I had no idea so many of those professional cheerleaders had scientific careers.
Kids just want to fit in and be cool and at that age, cheerleaders are cool. So if more cheerleaders show kids that it's cool to be a scientist, maybe it will make a lasting impression and be the impetus to get them to take their science classes seriously.
I wasn't a cheerleader- I couldn't even remember the moves in the damn step aerobics class. So when I watched "Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team" on the CMT channel, I was impressed with all they had to learn in such a short time to make the cut and all the criticism they had to take in front of a group of other women.
Ladies- why do we have to cut other women down all the time? Why can't we just appreciate each other's talents and support getting girls into science? Darlene's approach may not work for all girls, but it certainly will speak to some.
Just my $1 and 2 cents.
I'm not really wanting to single this out JadeEd, it's just a very good example of what bothers me with the whole thing of the "cheerleaders being an excellent example of sexy scientists". I would think that it would be good in general to try and break the stereotype of "scientists = old grey haired dude". I just don't think we are doing much of a favor making it "scientists = sexy cheerleader who are smart too". Why? Because I think it is way too simplistic of a stereotype to make to be happy with.
Sure, as a girl I was told "sexy or smart" (rather "I've got the brains, you've got the looks - let's make lots of money" as Pet Shop Boys sung in the 80ies) and I totally get the right to be both a smart woman and a sexy woman. I just feel that taking the high road or " I'm a sexy woman AND a scientist" is not going to get any further since you're sexy in the eyes of the beholder (i.e. here at least, men with power) rather than going for what I personally would see as total liberation "the right to be a scientist and/or be a geek and/or be sexy and be a woman". Like most male scientists who might not be judged as much being a man AND something else.
I realise this might sound like a very radical feministic view, I don't think it is but sure... I would like to be free of the judgement/fat (actually I am referring to "ok" in my own language which would translate into "yoke") of being a woman entails. It would be very nice to just be judged as a scientist and then geek/sexy/hot/whathaveyou on top of that in order to prove that scientists are not a specific piece of humans - we are diverse in ourselves.
I guess it might be too much to ask?
I never used the word "sexy" in my post. I used "feminine" and "cool".
Cheerleader doesn't have to be synonymous with "sex". I never said "cheerleaders [were] an excellent example of sexy scientists". We're talking to kids here so sexiness really needs to come out of the equation.
Darlene is demonstrating examples of lovely intelligent women who also love science and pursued higher education in the sciences.
I think the point is that girls need to learn not to listen to other people's expectations of them based simply on the way they look (whether that is physically beautiful or physically handicapped) and can and should pursue whatever they love as a career even if it is not the popular choice.
@Chall - I don't think you're asking too much. That is what I would like too. But I don't agree that this approach will make things worse. I also don't think that not having this approach will make things better.
In order to have men judge you differently, you'll have to get through to them directly, and probably have to reprogram some of them (No offense guys). Changing how you act, or what you wear, is obviously not enough. If it were, then all us girls who try very hard to be 'one of the guys' at work, would be accepted as one of the guys. That's not the case, it just doesn't happen that way. It has nothing to do w your efforts.
What I like about this campaign is that it is showing very strong, independent, powerful women, who I think do command the respect of others. I understand that the concept can be seen as sexist, but that's so clearly not what these women are about. The way I see it, when science becomes more socially acceptable, for both males and females, when it becomes the cool thing to do, like Jade said, then the problem starts to melt away and dissolve. It's cool to do science, everyone is doing it, gender doesn't matter anymore. If you're good, you're good.
The dudes who stare and don't take you seriously don't actually change their beliefs or approach just because you're not dressed in a cheerleader uniform. They've got you pictured in it in their heads anyway, no matter what you have on. This campaign is not meant for them. It's meant for the little boys and girls who have not yet been programmed with the various stereotypical stuff ie 'science is boring if you like it youre a dork.'
I did say JaneEd that I didn't wanted to single your post out but your sentences were really good to explain what I have a problem with. I thought it was obviuos that I did the sexy=scientist= etc and not you. As for what cheerleaders are, I agree they can be feminine and cool, althought I think they are considered sexy too. anyway, sorry if you felt misqouted, not the intention.
I see what you mean but I still think this is mixing apples and oranges. sorry. It's too many things in one box to change the view of science. I really don't think this is what the cheerleaders say. Especially the last sentence, sure I can agree that maybe the cheerleading can make a difference as in not automatically thnking "science = dorks". But then there is that thing that maybe it will be "female scientist = sexy" which I gather from many commenters are something to strive for since that is freedom and all - not sure I see that.
But I guess I'm just not getting it - as implied so many times. I wonder if it would be more acceptable if I made the disclaimer "I've been having fun with men and dress how I want, showed cleavage in order to get favour but I'd love not to need to be sexy (too) to be a scientist". Changing dork to sexy isn't really that much better imho.
I fucken love HOTT chicks with awesome racks and booties and I thinke science cheerleaders is fucken awesome! This way when I'm hangin' with my bros and my bros are all like, "Dude, you're such a science fag, hangin' with all those fugly dykes and hairy lesbians in the lab", I can be all like "Yo, bro. Am not!" And then I show them the science cheerleaders Web site and viedos and be all like "See, dude! Check out the fucken tits on this one Iggles cheerleader! Tell me you wouldn't tap that!!" And then my bros are like, "Yo, dude! You are so right, bro! Smokin HOTT!"
BTW, I'm not sexist. I LOVE women.
Call me crazy but I don't think Darlene's goal is to leave people with the impression that scientists are sexy, or that science is sexy. Rather she is using an avenue (cheerleading) that generates excitement in a lot of young girls, to push the acceptability of science. If lacrosse was the big sport that generated interest in young girls, I think we'd be seeing a "Lacrosser's for Science" program. Is she also knocking down the stereotype of cheerleaders as dummies? Yes, she is. The message to young girls? You can do whatever you fucking damn well please, fuck everyone and their shortsighted stereotypes.
Ok, Darlene would probably say it much nicer than that, but damn people ... the message is so damn obvious.
Call me crazy but I don't think Darlene's goal is to leave people with the impression that scientists are sexy, or that science is sexy.
Dude, you're not crazy. Cheerleading is fucken totally awesome because it means that not only do we get to watch totally fucken awesome dudebro sports, but also get to check out hott bangable chicks dancing around and shakin' it! And it's great for the hott bangable chicks because they get to meet awesome dudebro athletes and stuff. And later on, we get to fantasize about those hott bangable chicks as if they were meeting *US*!
Accordingly, science cheerleaders is totally fucken awesome because it means that we get to check out hott bangable chicks dancing around and shakin' it! And it's totally awesome for little girls, because they will learn that if they grow up to become hott and bangable, they could get to meet not only awesome dudebro athletes and stuff, but they might also get to meet science fags like *ME*!
So let me get this straight CPP ... we shouldn't allow professional athletes to go into schools to speak to children because a portion of the female population see these men as "hott bangable dudes" (and nothing else), because it may send a message to the boys in those schools that "Hey, when I grow up I can be a hott bangable dude" too?
These caricatures work in both directions, and they're both equally vapid. Try better next time.
No, dude. You've got it all wrong. When dudebro athletes visit schools, the boys are all like, "Yeah! That dudebro athlete has hott bangable cheerleader chicks dancing all around and cheering for him! That must be totally fucken awesome!!!"
Now science fags like us get to have hott bangable chicks dancing around for *US* and not just for awesome dudebro athletes!!!!!111!!!111!!
@Chall - Personally, I don't see being sexy as something to strive for, certainly not in relation to science, I mean I don't see a connection between them. I also don't subscribe to the notion that sexy==freedom.
I think the freedom comes from actually being free to choose what you want. You can choose to be sexy, you can choose not to be, you can choose to be anywhere you like on the spectrum in between. Clothes, makeup, behavior, that all adds or detracts to it, but you still are what you are.
Maybe I'm the one not getting it, but I just don't see the direct link that everyone seems to be drawing from Cheerleader to sexy. And it's certainly not the only link that can be drawn. You don't have to be a cheerleader to be sexy, and you don't have to be sexy to be a cheerleader. You don't have to not be sexy to do science, and you don't have to not do science to be sexy. I'm just confused as to why that's the only conclusion or end point seen from cheers. Not to mention, who cares if they are or aren't sexy? Why is this such a huge issue? How does being or not being sexy add or detract to your essence? Scientific ability?
Everyone's been talking about the need to get rid of stereotypes, well let's start here, let's start with us. Cheerleading != sex or sexy. People, no matter what they wear, or what they do, are sexy. Everyone falls somewhere on the spectrum, but that does not define who they are or what they stand for. And if we spent less time obsessing over the spectrum, or how far to one side or another certain people or professions ought to be, I think we'd be a lot better off.
The US is weird. There is so much freedom, and yet, people are very repressed. I lived there for 11 yrs, and I got sucked into it too. Now that I've been away for a while, I can see it more clearly. I know, this is a bit off topic, but I think it's still related. Men, in general in the US are not ok w making physical contact w each other. That's pretty weird. North America is pretty much the only place on Earth in which you can't hug a dude, if you're a dude, w/o getting weird looks. 8 yr old girls are already objectified as future sex fiends. None of this is healthy behavior. Clearly, this is a lot bigger than the scope of this post, and I am sure many will disagree with what I said here.
My point is, the road from cheerleading scientists to porn star and prostitution is not a toll free direct highway w no exits along the way. You may see it that way, but that is most likely due to your opinions being skewed by sexist male dominated ideals that have wrongly been floating around in your environment. Let's get back to allowing lil girls to cheer without thinking how hawt it'll be to bang them the day they turn 18, let's allow dudes to hug each other if they feel like it, w/o judging them in a ridiculous manner.
Thanks Chall- sorry about my mis-interpretation.
I agree that cheerleaders = sexy... to adults. To young girls and ladies, hopefully it means something else- more along the lines of what TJ wrote.
It's a little bit sickening that a program meant for young girls (Science Cheerleaders) evokes such a demented and perverted response from a grown man, much less one of our scientific colleagues. Just creepy. Some things people need to keep to themselves.
So CPP, in response to "some men are dogs and objectify women" you propose what? To ban cheerleading? Great idea ... penalize the victim! With friends like you, who needs enemies?
This post and subsequent comments are an embarassment for your community of so-called science bloggers. Brian, your "arguments" are remarkably short-sighted, and good ole TJ, per usual, has his head stuck so far up his ass that that everything he types looks and smells like shit. Bye, bye credibility.
Dude, I don't want to ban cheerleading. I think it's totally fucken awesome that little girls are taught as young as possible that if they make sure to grow up to be hott and bangable, they'll get lots of positive attention from dudebro athletes and science fags alike.
CE, you wouldn't know credibility if it were a pitbull attached to your leg.
CPP, thanks for proving my point. Not only are you a tool, you're an idiot too.
Dude, what point have I proven, other than that you're a ridiculous dumbfucke completely oblivious to reality. And you call yourself a fucken scientist?? Pathetic.
Well, that was unnecessary. You're going to smear our entire community because you disagree with MY opinion? Talk about short sighted.
Other than the point on top of your head CPP? That you are a moron who wants to cut off the noses of the people he claims to be supporting. Instead of seeing that the problem is misogynistic men, you go after a sport hundreds of thousands of girls enjoy.
As for my science credentials ... if your science is anything like your typical prose, I'd be pretty fucken hesisitant to criticize anyone else.
Yeah, my head is pointy. GOOD ONE!!!!! YOU GOT ME!!!!!!!!!
Let me spell this out for you, shit-for-brains: The problem is not "misogynistic men". The problem is that we live in society that tells little girls in a million fucking different ways every fucken day all day long that their highest calling in life is to grow up to be hott and bangable. Cheerleading is just one way among many that little girls are told this. The fact that huge numbers of little girls internalize the hott and bangable message and "enjoy" cheerleading doesn't change this one fucken iota.
A healthy message for little girls is not "you can grow up to be hott and bangable *and* a scientist". A healthy message for little girls is "hott and bangable" is irrelevant.
And the claim that cheerleading is not about "hott bangable sexxay" is so fucken stupid it's beneath contempt.
And yet ... everything after that is the message propagated by misogynistic men. Do you even read what you write?
CE - Perhaps some constructive criticism, such as on topic discussion as to what about this campaign you're uncomfortable with, or what about Brian's post you disagree with, might help get your point of view across.
Oh, and I will agree with you on at least one thing ... A healthy message for little girls is "hott and bangable" is irrelevant.
Which is something I pretty much said back @9:07am.
the message propagated by misogynistic men
Dude, that message is propagated by everyone and everything all day long and every fucken moment in our entire fucken society. Your delusion is that "hott bangable sexxay" is some kind of aberration that only "misogynistic men" are responsible for, and that if only those "misogynistic men" would shape up, then cheerleading would be a completely neutral act.
<em>And the claim that cheerleading is not about "hott bangable sexxay" is so fucken stupid it's beneath contempt.</em>
Word. I mean c'mon, the pot fans on my blog don't even get this frigging delusional. Cheerleading is not about being sexy and bangable? Puh-effin-leeze.
Hopefully we can keep you and CPP away from any K-12 cheerleading competitions. I wouldn't want either of you boning out over an 8 year old with pom-poms.
As to the last two comments:
Being "hot and bangable" is entrenched in society, not just in cheerleading. I think what's humorous is the American perception that being "hot and bangable" is enough. Outside the states, the perception is that you have to be "hot and bangable" in addition to whatever you do as a profession.
I also have to say that I'm not excited about the North American entries on this list:
So let me get this straight CPP and DM ... cheerleaders cheerlead because they want to be "sexy and bangable" and that is it? They become cheerleaders because they want some knuckle-draggers to leer over them?
So according to CPP's arguing, we can excuse young girls from picking up that message and conforming to it, because they're indoctrinated to it at a young age. Ok, fine. Their folks make them do it. Of course, now I'm confused because the Cheerleaders for Science are all college educated women, with some pretty strong intellectual chops. One might think that they'd be able to see through all that indoctrination and choose to cheerlead for their own reasons ... or are those reasons STILL that they only want to be sexy and bangable?
Like I said ... with friends like you, who needs enemies?
So lemme see if I've got this straight.
(1) "K-12 cheerleading" is a completely neutral "sport" that girls "enjoy".
(2) Pro sports cheerleaders hardly show any cleavage on Science Cheerleaders and their shorts are purely functional athletic shorts designed for freedom of movement as they practice their "sport".
(3) It's only the gross opinions of "misogynistic men" that make cheerleading of any kind anything other than a totally neutral "sport".
(4) It's totally a complete coincidence that pro sports Science Cheerleaders hardly showing any cleavage in their functional "sports" shorts are dancing around shaking their tits and asses as a means of encouraging little girls that they can both practice the "sport" of cheerleading *and* be scientists.
No CPP, let's get this straight ...
Are these adult women allowed to make their own decisions, or do they need to come to you for a stamp of approval? Does CPP know better? I guess CPP thinks these Cheerleaders for Science all have a deep hole in their psyche -- and since misery loves company -- they're pulling all these poor innocent girls ushered there by their sheeply parents (also brainwashed by society) into making them eye candy, hott, and bangeable. Wow, did you break into DM's research stash?
This reminds me of the thinking that produced such gems as -
- Girls who have big boobs are asking to get stared at
- Girls with a nice ass are asking to get groped
- Girls who wear short skirts are asking to be raped
In order to remedy this, perhaps we should all be wearing burkas. After all, we wouldn't want to ask the men to restrain themselves. Boobs are so incredibly appealing, any female in motion is just too much for them to handle. Their puny brains render them out of control. It's not their fault. It's the women's, they are evil. They must hide themselves from the men, cover up their bodies, so that the men won't be tempted.
Kinda sounds like religious rules.. and kinda sounds like men not taking responsibility for their behavior, and hey, it's ok, if this is upsetting to you, there is a wholllle huge portion of the world out there, who feels just the same! You are more than welcome to hop on a plane, get the TSA groping or radiating your junk, and start a new life surrounded by enlightened folks who share your views.
Don't forget to send a post card!
Dude, your understanding of sociology, psychology, and human decisionmaking processes is a fucken joke. Instead of just pulling gibberish out of your fucken asse that comforts you to the extent that it--Wow! What a fucken coincidence!--conforms to your preconceived notions and personal desires, how about actually finding something out about this shitte? There's been a lot of scholarly analysis of these issues that you seem completely ignorant of.
'Cause seriously, dude, you're making a complete asse of yourself with this aggressive embrace of your own ignorance.
Zuskateer as in a reader of Thus Spake Zuska. Which is where I *thought* I'd discussed the peach crayon before. In reality, it was over at DM's http://scienceblogs.com/drugmonkey/2009/11/your_pumpkin_pie_slice_skin.php
So really, I can thank DM and Ed Yong for educating me on this one (although it's possible it came up over at TSZ at some point and my google-fu has run out for finding it).
The whole point of *that* discussion was how easy it is to miss your own biases with things you take for granted as 'normal' but that are, in fact, quite discriminatory. It might be a thread worth your time to read.
Since you are so enamored of your analogy, I will respond in kind. I am not a peach crayon. I am a teal crayon. I'm happy for peach crayons to be peach crayons. In fact, for the record, I see peach crayons drawing for Science instead of Football is a HUGE improvement, since I am so fond of science and so anti-football. I will try to protect peach crayons from obsessive kids with ASD by helping such kids to heal and behave in an adaptive way. When someone attempts to delibrately break a peach crayon, because crayons are worthless, I will fight them tooth and nail. I will fight them even if they claim it is only peach crayons that are worthless, and that I, as a teal crayon, am safe. I will fight them because I know that is a tenuous truth, at best, and more importantly because it is Wrong to Break Crayons. I know little girls like peach crayons, and that's sweet in a way, and I don't want to ban the peach crayon and force them to color with teal (though I think a teal crayon campign for little girls would be awesome, of course). I am happy with peach crayons being peach crayons in public ways. They can seduce Harold away from the Purple Crayon and be peachy crayony all over the walls of whatever consensual adult buildings they like. Don't scare the horses or scar the kiddies and it's all good. Woo for them, in fact! ;-)
However, I am not a peach crayon. I like being a teal crayon. I am replete in my tealness. I do not want people to mistake me for a peach crayon. I would not want them to treat me like a peach crayon even if we lived in a perfect world where nobody tried to break peach crayons. Because, well, I am not a peach crayon.
In fairness, if one has a low tolerance for pointless trollery and smut, this has been one of the more low-brow discussions I've seen on the science blogosophere. Not indicative of the whole community, to be sure. Personally, I have a high tolerance for threads in which I can semi-playfully (but hopefully not thoughtlessly) mock a d00d I find entertaining for being sexist; desend to a lower level of guttersmut than all the silly Bois trying to out machotroll eacy other; offer thoughtful social criticism disguised in exagerated hippy-dippy idealism; blather on in extended analogy; AND discuss the meta. This thread has got it all! Still, if you *aren't* even slightly embarassed by your original post, please look up 'hypocrisy'. I am truly waiting for you to put on a cheerleading outfit. Actually, judging from the oh-so-critically-rational peer-reviewed data, I suspect what we really need is for you to join a squad.
It's "about" being sexy and bangable in *exactly* the same way (and to a comparable degree) that football, hockey, and basketball are *about* being violent and strong. Kyriarchy, thy name is sport.
Sure it does Evie.
Your thinking, otoh, reminds me of
-women just appear naked in Playboy because they are proud of their bodies and are into hippy-ass freedom and this has nothing whatsoever to do with teh sexxay. wait, whut? teenage boys wank off to that? what an amazing coincidence.
"religious rules"? "allowed to make decisions"?
riiiiight. because pointing out the breadth of impact, connotation and social effect of cheerleading is just exactly like suggesting we need legal enforcement mechanisms to prevent people from exercising their liberty. sure it is. you two want to climb down off your absurd highhorse made of the finest straw so that we can have a discussion?
Evie- I agree that this is generally the way to go. But many commenters prior to me- such as Dr. Becca, Becca, DM, CPP, and the original post from Sci have offered perfectly reasonable objections, and such thoughts are only met with the inane ramblings and misconstructions of good ole TJ, among others. Sometimes, on the internets, there is no point in engaging idiots in discussion- it is counterproductive. In such cases, I just prefer to call a spade a spade.
Also, I should note that I have no objections to most of the Lab Spaces community and enjoy the blogs of many of the bloggers here. However, there are several loud members who make a bad name for your website. I don't say that to be mean, Brian, I say it because it's true.
No, you're totally right. Cheerleading and full on nudity in playboy are *exactly* the same thing.
As far as boys go, I'd like to reference a scene from Grandma's boy, that illustrates that boys will wank off to anything.. miniature plastic dolls included. Does that mean there should not be science oriented dolls either? Btw, if you haven't seen that movie, check it out, it's awesome :)
Grandma's Boy - Watch more funny videos here
Here's the link in case it doesnt embed http://www.metacafe.com/watch/164110/grandmas_boy/
If you read my previous comments, you'd see that I do not equate freedom with being sexy, or getting nekkid for a skeezy mag. I just don't think CHEERLEADING is a bad thing, or an inappropriate thing.
Why is it ok at football games, but not for science? Why does it somehow become morally offensive when it doesn't involve beer and sweaty dudes?
CE - Well, thank you for your input. I disagree on the cheerleading matter, obviously. If it were a squad of guys doing the performing, would everyone feel more comfortable about it? I'm just curious.
Wow, Becca, you've really outdone yourself. Asking people to get the facts straight before they smear a perfectly good science campaign isn't trolling. The point that everyone seems to keep getting hung up on is not the campaign, it's that they hate cheerleaders. Get over it already. Darlene pointed out that there are 1.5 million little cheerleaders out there. These girls don't see boobs, or sex, they see glitter and cool and fun. This is a great hook to get kids interested in science. It is not a bad thing to have extremely positive role models who can relate to cheerleaders AS cheerleaders!
CE, if you didn't have anything to add to the discussion, then why say anything at all? Yes, Becca, Sci, and Dr. Becca have all expressed what they think cheerleaders represent. The problem is that these stereotypes DO NOT APPLY to this campaign! The cheerleaders aren't selling sex, they're using cheerleading to relate to a target audience. There's a difference there.
Finally, CE, you say I and some of the commentors here should be ashamed of our simplistic analysis of the situation. I posit that YOU are the one that should be ashamed for perpetuating a stereotype that makes wonderful empowered women like Andrea, Darlene, Arikia, and Joanne suppress their past history as cheerleaders or models to assuage some ridiculous preconcieved definition you have etched into your brain about what these activities represnt.
And no offense, but people in glass houses, etc.
My problem isn't that there's cheerleaders out there cheering for science. I think it's great little girls don't think they have to be old bearded men to go into science.
My problem is that requirement number 1 for a woman in this society is "Fulfill conventional femininity roles, be hotte and bangable." Now in today's advanced society all these women can go be scientists or firefighters or whatever the hell they feel like. But their number one priority is to be attractive. This perpuates that. A woman can still be a woman (and not a man) without putting on tight blue spandex. When guys do science outreach they don't put on uniforms and talk about how science is great. They usually actually do the science. I think that kind of science outreach is more effective.
Brian- if these outfits are "appropriate" then go ahead and put up a nice color photo in your office at your desk at work. Ignore anybody who says it makes them "uncomfortable" or makes them feel like the workplace is hostile. Because apparently to be comfortable with our sexuality means we as women must also be okay with being a sexual object. To be not okay with being any guy's sexual object obviously makes you some repressed feminazi.
I'm fine with these women dancing and doing what they want to do. But I don't want my coworkers telling me that this is the kind of person me or little girls should aspire to be. We can be whoever we want to be. We can be as a feminine or unfeminine as we please. Much as I don't expect all the men in my office to be totally fit and sporting so much sweat and chest hair the place smells like wet dog. The problem is, when a guy is a scientist nobody cares how attractive or nonattractive he is. If he doesn't fill every degree of "masculinity" he is not called "sexually repressed" by the women who know him or don't know him. If I don't want a guy staring at my boobs for a whole conversation I am called a bitch or a prude or worse. I'm not allowed to be sexual where I want to be, I am forced to be a sexual object every where I go, no matter what I dress like.
Efforts like these just remind me that my number one requirement in life is to be aesthetically pleasing to men in power. And you know what? Maybe that's the message little girls should be getting about science, because it just about explains the leaky pipeline and describes the only way I've seen women even get noticed at work. If you're pretty you're patronized and encouraged but only for your little square. If you're not conventially pretty you're ignored. Brian I know you and Darlene mean well, but nothing can change how something like this makes other people feel, and what gets more girls/women into science but does nothing to change the atmosphere accomplishes nothing.
I don't love the campaign, but I think this is a valid point- I'm surprised it took someone so long to mention it. I already explained my take- while 'morally offensive' is a strawman hyperbole- this is fundamentally *less* objectionable than cheerleaders cheering for football players. The fact that many people are unphased by cheerleaders cheering for football players is a flesh crayon thing.
Uhm, no offense but... methinks thou dost protest too much? The only thing *I* called trolling was silly boi machismo. To be clear, that was the derailment into the gutter brought to us by Tideliar and genomic repairman, not anything you did.
Where have the facts of this campaign been misrepresented (for the record, I have seen some confusion about the facts, but not on this thread)?
"Get over it already" is the last refuge of a
scoundrel someone who has no facts on his side.
Let's look at what you said here. Now, when I ask the incomparable google how many cheerleaders there are, I get a number of ~400,000 for high school cheerleaders; ~120,000 for 'competitive cheerleaders'; a reported 3 million total cheerleaders. None of which are 1.5 million. Do you really want to play the "oh I'm so superior because I have The Facts" game when you can't even be bothered to google an unreliable statistic?
Brian Krueger, PhD said:
These girls don't see boobs, or sex, they see glitter and cool and fun. This is a great hook to get kids interested in science. It is not a bad thing to have extremely positive role models who can relate to cheerleaders AS cheerleaders!
Ah, but that's not what's going on here, now you are misrepresenting things. They aren't taking little girls who have already 'drunk the glitteraid' so to speak, and trying to play up science to girls at cheercamp (at least, not that I've heard of- Darlene can correct me if I'm wrong; I might actually feel slightly differently about the matter if so; though refinements of the uniform might be wise). No, they are going to places like the Artful Dodger Bar in Philly, or on ESPN, and the USA Science and Engineering festival.
Well, no one has accused them of selling sex. Sex sells itself, that's the point of marketing with sex. You use sex to sell something less sexy. Like cars. Or football teams. Or, apparently, science.
If you don't think it has anything to do with sex, go to the website. Look at the pictures. Dude, I'm as far from a 'red blooded american male' as you can get, and *I* get excited. Am I just another hopeless boob-obssed pervert on teh interents? Perhaps. Or perhaps the images presented of these women are very carefully honed to make you say 'whatever they're selling, I'm buying'
Frautech, I really appreciate the comment and insight, thanks for that post.
The point that everyone seems to keep getting hung up on is not the campaign, it's that they hate cheerleaders.
Yeah, dude. We "hate cheerleaders". Are you really truly actually this fucken oblivious? I mean, really?
Frautech, thanks for saying that better than I ever could.
@Candid Engineer: I understand the motivation for your comments entirely. I couldn't figure out a way to constructively interact with most of this comment thread myself. Thanks for not hanging around.
@Dr. Becca - "hot people advocacy" is right on. Like Dr.Zen, I need to think more about this.
On one hand, proving stereotypes wrong feels awesome (+6 points) and I hope this immediate outreach can help change the ingrained opinion about what a scientist looks like (+8 points). So I get Brian's incredulousness - why can't I just support this endeavour 100%? Indeed, I would be psyched to be friends with any of these athletic, driven and well-rounded ladies (+2 points).
And on the other hand I can plainly see why CPP calls bullshit. This isn't anything specifically to do with Darlene's outreach, rather to do with cheerleaders being the stereotypical go-to "sexayyy" feminine ideal (-10 points). Six year olds might want to become scientists instead of actresses now, but that's because a cheerleader told them it was cool and even a six year old realizes that cheerleaders have power (especially in crowds)...much of their power linked to their physical appearance (-5 points).
So I guess I come out ahead for Science cheerleaders, but only barely.
@ GR and Tideliar: I will never heal from knowing that the defacto characteristic used to describe the smart, blonde, short but crazy cheerleader upthread was not her initials but rather whether she had any pubic hair. You cannot unlearn some things #DFS
"the pot fans on my blog don't even get this frigging delusional"
Haha *you* are the delusional one there, DM, if you are talking about the *imaginary* pot fans who you claim say it's totally harmless and 'magical':)
But I agree with you and CPP here. About the delusional denial of the purpose of cheerleaders in sexy outfits, and especially about WHY little girls admire cheerleaders. And the ever increasing pressure on them to be 'smokin' hot' at ever increasingly young ages. And that of course the campaign is using female sexuality to sell an unrelated idea, as usual. No new ground or stereotypes are being broken here. I said a lot on the other threads, but a quick recap of the important points:
1) Darlene is mocking feminists on her site, and she indicated as much on Sci's thread also - that women who don't like the cheerleading image (sex objects, on the sidelines supporting the main attraction which stars the men) are just jealous, and by definiton, not beautiful. And Andrea seems to think that feminists are anti-sex in general, that they are holding women back from expressing their sexuality. These are harmful and untrue stereotypes and it's terrible to teach young girls that feminists are jealous and want to keep them back - exactly the opposite is true. Now Brian seems to be doing the same.
2) There is no evidence (except anecdotal) that this campaign is even needed or that it will be effective. As many of us who actually do science outreach have pointed out, it is not hard at all to get kids excited about science. The real challenge is improving the quality of K-12 science education in the US, and keeping women in science. In biology girls have outnumbered boys in undergrad programs for decades. The numbers still drop dramatically by the post doc stage. It is not addressing the most crucial issues.
And Evie, I don't think anyone has said this is immoral, except to the extent it is using sex to sell something unrelated to little kids, and no one who feels that way has said 'it's fine with the football games' -it's just easier to ignore there, and not being discussed here. And many of us are generally concerned about the marketing of 'hotness' to little girls. And yeah, it sure would be different if guys in tiny outfits that emphasized their sexual characteristics were doing this for kids, shakin' it in the kids faces. They would probably be arrested. At best it would be considered hilarious comedy. It is sad what is considered normal, even tasteful when it comes to women.
Isabel - As I see it, we're all trying to get Science into the main stream. And like it or not, cheerleaders are very mainstream. While obviously cheerleading in itself does often exploit sexuality, it is not the only thing it does, nor is it always employed. Kids don't know sexy. To them it really is just oh wow, look at the dancing and pretty colored shiny outfits, and pompoms and flips! The fact that adults, and creepy dudes in particular take that to an extreme and conjure up the most sexual images they can imagine, is an unfortunate side effect. That is not the sci cheers goal. But again, they are not the target audience of this campaign.
I understand where you're coming from, I've had to fight my whole life to be taken seriously, or to even be considered a candidate. I grew up in a very male dominated environment. I am all about women's rights, and I am also very concerned with the images young girls see and think they have to emulate. That is a huge problem that US society is not only not tackling, but for the most part, is making it worse.
However, seeing as the sci cheer girls are not *only* the typical stereotype for cheerleaders, but whole human beings, who happen to have devoted their lives to the sciences, and *not* just to shaking their ass in the faces of anyone, I can see a distinction between the two. Plus, I think it would be a pretty good idea to start teaching people that it's not just your interpretation of one's actions that count, but some importance should be placed on the motivation behind those actions. Are you really saying that the sci cheers are trying to be sexy for the kids? Probly not. Are they saying to anyone that hey, you're of less value since you don't look like me? I don't think so. I realize those are very deep rooted ideas, but isn't it time to change them?
As far as what you said "There is no evidence (except anecdotal) that this campaign is even needed or that it will be effective" - Well, the effectiveness is yet to be seen. About it even being needed.. well of course it is needed. You said you work in the science outreach field. Are you saying it's done? It's reached its max capacity goal? Has Science achieved its rightful place?
Feminism is about women doing what they want. Being equal to everyone else. Acting as they like, without the fear of being judged. Just as men do. This does not mean they won't be judged, but it does mean they should act as they want, look as they want, say what they want, regardless of judgment. Just as men do. It does not mean they should have to consider the perversions of a certain age range and gender , and based on that decide what those people would consider to be appropriate and live inside that box.
That's a long-winded way of saying "Indeed, I do know what is best for these women, better than the women themselves." You could have just as easily responded "Yes" to my question and saved yourself the effort.
Kids don't know sexy. To them it really is just oh wow, look at the dancing and pretty colored shiny outfits, and pompoms and flips! The fact that adults, and creepy dudes in particular take that to an extreme and conjure up the most sexual images they can imagine, is an unfortunate side effect.
This is delusional magical thinking.
Did I miss something, CPP? Are you a psychologist? I wasn't aware of your expertise in the area of child psychology. If this is the case, then I guess we have something in common.
Also, you don't know what you are talking about RE: psychology and human behavior. Just thought I'd let you know that your comments and psychological analyses look silly and embarassingly cliche to those of us in the field.
The entire purpose of cheerleading is hott sexxay bangable femininity compliance training. The fact that the training frequently starts at an age when the little girls themselves don't necessarily recognize what is going on means nothing.
That is clear. It doesn't mean, however, that this is just a matter of opinion, like Mets/Yankees, and not a question of fact.
It is entirely a matter of perspective, and point of view.
Women are very concerned with the way men will react to what they do, and how they look. They try so hard not to elicit certain responses in men. But that is not something they should have to worry about. The reality of having to set boundaries on your behavior based on anticipated reaction of another gender that is foreign to you, is pretty much the definition of 'A man's world'. Not an equal world.
If rather than doing that, women concentrated on doing what they actually want to do for themselves - just as men do - well that would be real equality, and freedom.
CPP, see if you can for a second leave your male brain, and put yourself in a women's mind. As women do alll the time. Now, don't think about how men will react to cheer. Look at it for yourself, in this woman's brain and see if you, just you, find anything wrong w it. Just in your eyes. Not in the thought or implication of what it may or may not elicit in males. You will likely see no harm there. That is my point. The only time these issues are a problem is when you consider what some will turn what you're doing into. And that's only an issue since this happens to be, for now, a male dominated world. Otherwise, no one would care.
So, can you help take the next step toward real equality? Can you re-train your brain to see these sci cheer ladies as more than just the typical sex symbol you're used to equating cheerleaders with? Can you modify the cheerleader image, and realize that sci cheer though a subcategory of cheerleading, does not stand for the same things? Can you make that separation? Are you willing to try?
You seem to think that hott sexxay bangable is a bug in cheerleading, when it's a feature. In fact, it's the killer app.
This has nothing to do with particular thoughts in individual people's minds. Cheerleading is one cog in a complex machine of indoctrination into heteronormative patriarchal oppression.
Viewing it as the particularized choices of individual girls/women to cheer and individual boys/men to leer is grossly insufficient to understand what is really going on.
The USA science and engineering festival is not an all-kiddie event, and the other recent science cheerleader performances are not in any kid-friendly place at all (unless I'm missing something about the bar??). The target audience of this campaign is "americans who like cheerleaders". That includes fresh faced urchins, yes. Also creepy old leering football watching d00ds.
By using *pro* cheerleaders, Darlene is specifically selecting for women who have been using their sexuality to sell macho sports. Could the science cheerleader campaign be a new thing for them, which is totally family-friendly and has nothing to do with sex? Sure. But not as long as they keep the same outfits and attitude. And not when they are performing in bars.
This. This is right-on.
I'm not a fan of cheerleaders. I'm not a fan of football players. Yet if someone wanted to do 'science football players' I rather doubt it would attract this kind of attention. So you are very right in observing that peoples reactions to this are a *sign* of a discriminatory society. The reactions may even perpetuate the discriminatory BS- that seems to be what you are concerned with, is that right?
The part you seem to be glossing over is that it's also possible the cheerleaders themselves perpetuate the discriminatory BS where women *should* be judged (based on attractiveness).
Tideliar and genomic repairment's potential difficulties in getting laid in an egalitarian society with non-crazy smart chicks aside, I think we all want to see a world where women are equal with men and people are not afraid of judgement over things like this. The question is whether the cheerleaders bring us closer to that or not.
Given what our society identifies as sexual, I think it's ridiculous to say it is a 'perversion' to look at the pictures on the science cheerleader website, for many of the entries categorized under 'sexy scientists and engineers' and think about sex. Those pictures are designed to make you do that. It's not misinterperting the message.
It is, perhaps, unfortunate to only focus on that aspect of the message, and not focus on the 'gooooo science!' aspect.
"Are they saying to anyone that hey, you're of less value since you don't look like me? I don't think so. I realize those are very deep rooted ideas, but isn't it time to change them?"
Evie, as i pointed out in #1 above, they are in fact implying that women who don't agree with using the cheerleading image to attract kids to science have issues with jealousy and rejection. This is pretty insulting and does its own job of pitting women against each other. They (and Andrea) are also spreading negative and untrue stereoypes about feminists. I am having a very hard time getting past that - I think it is terrible to spread these sterotypes to young girls.
"As far as what you said "There is no evidence (except anecdotal) that this campaign is even needed or that it will be effective" - Well, the effectiveness is yet to be seen. About it even being needed.. well of course it is needed. You said you work in the science outreach field. Are you saying it's done? It's reached its max capacity goal? Has Science achieved its rightful place?"
I was referring to the campaign to unlink science and asexual nerdiness. And I stated that the first step in getting more women in the science fields, which is getting their interest, is the easiest. It is the other two that are hard- improving actual science literacy in K-12 and making it possible for girls (and boys) to have successful science careers. I mainly work on part 2 nowadays; but as far as Part 1 I have helped build (literally) a public observatory and worked many public observing nights and led tons of nature hikes for 8 and 9-year-old schoolkids, as well as helped organize public outreach days at my uni, and the excited interest and response seen on the videos here come naturally to kids (and adults) in all these situations. Sparkly outfits and flips are not needed.
"Feminism is about women doing what they want. Being equal to everyone else. Acting as they like, without the fear of being judged. Just as men do. This does not mean they won't be judged, but it does mean they should act as they want, look as they want, say what they want, regardless of judgment. Just as men do"
I agree with this 100% but am having a helluva hard time reconciling it with cheerleading culture, where girls, whose purpose is to cheer for the boys and provide eye candy for the crowd, are judged on their looks, and girls who don't participate are looked on pityingly by the cheerleaders (as I pointed out above). And who do and wear things men would never do, except for laughs.