Author Topic: Womanspace, Nature Journal, and the huge blowout.  (Read 7084 times)

Kai

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Womanspace, Nature Journal, and the huge blowout.
« on: November 17, 2011, 06:33:52 pm »
If you're not familiar with Nature Journal, you should be. Like it's USAian counterpart, Science, Nature is one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world. Not that you should use authority as value; as the joke goes, in Nature and Science, there is little of either. However, they are the most widely read and cited journals in the world, meaning they have a high impact value, which is the stupid yet true way universities and other research institutions measure publication success. And I'll admit, historically they have some of the most important papers.

One of the long running sections in Nature is called Futures, where a fiction author is invited to write a piece of science fiction for every issue. Never mind right now the issue of whether science fiction actually belongs in a science journal, or whether anyone actually reads that section. The issue at hand is a Futures from September 2011, which has received an incredible amount of flac and fallout but months after it was published.

Titled 'Womanspace', you can read it in full here.

As the author says in the comments below, it was originally meant as tongue in cheek, but it's such a blatantly sexist piece of fiction that Nature Journal editor Henry Gee commented, "I'm amazed we haven't had any outraged comments about this story."

And now the angry letters have started, and the comment sections are filling up. You see, women scientists know and remember what it was like to be a woman scientist even just 30 years ago; catcalls when a woman professor entered a classroom were the norm, as was sexual harassment at professional meetings. It's a laugh against Nature that most people ignored the piece until 2 months after it was published, since apparently no one reads Futures.  :lulz:

http://all-geo.org/highlyallochthonous/2011/11/dear-nature-you-got-a-sexist-story-but-when-you-published-it-you-gave-it-your-stamp-of-approval-and-became-sexist-too/ The title says it all.

http://www.paulanderson.org.uk/2011/11/an-open-letter-to-nature/ And another

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/doing-good-science/2011/11/16/in-which-i-form-the-suspicion-that-i-am-not-natures-intended-audience/ And another

http://lablemminglounge.blogspot.com/2011/11/even-bigotry-has-silver-lining.html OUCH

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/2011/11/16/the-charismatic-misogynist/ You get the idea.


In fact, the whole blowout has a hash tag on twitter now, #womanspace. https://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23womanspace

The highlight is the parody coming out of this, the chief example being a mockup of "Nature Publishing Group's new journal: Womanspace" by insect photographer Alex 'Myrmecos' Wild http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/compound-eye/2011/11/17/nature-publishing-groups-new-journal/ And all the possible article titles posted in #womanspace.


This mess is really only just getting started. Nature and Science have been declining in quality for years now, despite the insistence of some institutions that publications in those journals are the only items worth considering on an application, and people are raring for a tearing.
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Re: Womanspace, Nature Journal, and the huge blowout.
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2011, 06:59:14 pm »
Some of the comments are pretty interesting- especially the suggestion that it was published to direct more traffic to the site. Makes sense. No one said anything about it until the editor said that he was surprised at the lack of outrage.
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Kai

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Re: Womanspace, Nature Journal, and the huge blowout.
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2011, 07:04:56 pm »
Some of the comments are pretty interesting- especially the suggestion that it was published to direct more traffic to the site. Makes sense. No one said anything about it until the editor said that he was surprised at the lack of outrage.

In other words, the 'greatest' science journal in the world has become nothing more than a marketing scheme for laboratory products.  :lulz: :horrormirth: :lulz:
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Re: Womanspace, Nature Journal, and the huge blowout.
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2011, 07:05:03 pm »
I was personally most surprised at how bad the story is.  It's incredibly soft sci-fi, with no look at why women are able to enter parallel universes, or the mechanics of it, or the implications, aside from being able to find better husbands.

All it really is is a not very interesting "what if" that the author didn't even bother to actually expand into a story.
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Re: Womanspace, Nature Journal, and the huge blowout.
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2011, 07:14:12 pm »
Some of the comments are pretty interesting- especially the suggestion that it was published to direct more traffic to the site. Makes sense. No one said anything about it until the editor said that he was surprised at the lack of outrage.

In other words, the 'greatest' science journal in the world has become nothing more than a marketing scheme for laboratory products.  :lulz: :horrormirth: :lulz:

Nothing does what it says on the label anymore. :sad:
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Re: Womanspace, Nature Journal, and the huge blowout.
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2011, 07:20:27 pm »
Wow, that was... something.

It smacks of the desperation of a clueless aging man in charge of a journal with declining readership trying to play the controversy card. And that story was not even vaguely funny, although the premise could have been amusing in the hands of a more skilled writer/thinker.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


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Re: Womanspace, Nature Journal, and the huge blowout.
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2011, 07:22:58 pm »
Wow, that was... something.

It smacks of the desperation of a clueless aging man in charge of a journal with declining readership trying to play the controversy card. And that story was not even vaguely funny, although the premise could have been amusing in the hands of a more skilled writer/thinker.

Yeah, isn't it supposed to be a sci-fi story? It seems more like half-thought musings.

That was the other thing I found funny about the comments- apparently you need to cite other papers for fiction, or what is supposed to be fiction?
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Re: Womanspace, Nature Journal, and the huge blowout.
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2011, 07:41:18 pm »
Wow, that was... something.

It smacks of the desperation of a clueless aging man in charge of a journal with declining readership trying to play the controversy card. And that story was not even vaguely funny, although the premise could have been amusing in the hands of a more skilled writer/thinker.

Yeah, isn't it supposed to be a sci-fi story? It seems more like half-thought musings.

That was the other thing I found funny about the comments- apparently you need to cite other papers for fiction, or what is supposed to be fiction?

No, I think that someone was trying to defend it by saying it's "observations" and other people were saying that if it is observations or commentary in a scientific journal, then the observations needed to be backed with citations.

It was wretchedly written and really barely qualifies as sci-fi. It was pretty much just completely fucking stupid. I'm more offended by the bad writing than the sexist content. THAT got published?
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


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Re: Womanspace, Nature Journal, and the huge blowout.
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2011, 07:54:53 pm »
Wow, that was... something.

It smacks of the desperation of a clueless aging man in charge of a journal with declining readership trying to play the controversy card. And that story was not even vaguely funny, although the premise could have been amusing in the hands of a more skilled writer/thinker.

Yeah, isn't it supposed to be a sci-fi story? It seems more like half-thought musings.

That was the other thing I found funny about the comments- apparently you need to cite other papers for fiction, or what is supposed to be fiction?

No, I think that someone was trying to defend it by saying it's "observations" and other people were saying that if it is observations or commentary in a scientific journal, then the observations needed to be backed with citations.

It was wretchedly written and really barely qualifies as sci-fi. It was pretty much just completely fucking stupid. I'm more offended by the bad writing than the sexist content. THAT got published?

It was pretty bad.
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Re: Womanspace, Nature Journal, and the huge blowout.
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2011, 08:04:35 pm »
I've never read so much wasted potential in one short story.
And it didn't even have that much potential!
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Re: Womanspace, Nature Journal, and the huge blowout.
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2011, 08:22:29 pm »
I find it funny that the "OUCH" article above suggests sending good articles instead to Science Journal. It's like politics! Just switch Science and Nature for Republicans and Democrats, and notice that there is really no difference.

Neither of them are honestly relevant anymore. Sure, once in a great while they might have something relevant to any one researcher (which is why I subscribe to the E-table of contents), but for the most part reading them is useless for me. I could read Scientific American and get really good science writing, or I could read a specialist journal like Zootaxa or J-NABS or Proceedings of the Linnaean Society. Nobody READS Science or Nature anymore. Just like no one READS the New York Times anymore. If anything we just page through to see if there's anything interesting, and then toss it back on the pile.
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Re: Womanspace, Nature Journal, and the huge blowout.
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2011, 08:24:47 pm »
We need to rewrite it!
 
1. Boring everyday predictable sexism. Don't they know that sexism can be intellectually, philosophically challenging and funny?
2. They tried to make it acceptable by talking badly about themselves too, but that only works if the self-mockery is taken to greater heights than your target's.
3. ... did they seriously depend on internet fora for reliable observations?!!
4. the 'theoretical physicists take every good idea' bit might have been good if they'd fleshed it out a bit. Sounds like a perfect spot for some stereotype-filled dialogue not centered around men vs women. This would make the story more about stereotypes than about 'men are from mars, women are from alpha-centauri prime'.
5. This story needs a conspiracy, and many crossdressing women to fullfil all the 'manly' roles where a 'true man' would have figured out what was happening, like, i dunno, a warehouse manager for any store ever? (except for electronics stores and other manly stores ofcourse, the Secret Woman's Alliance For Female's Eternal Law created these stores so the men would never grow suspicious for their lack of male warehousemanager friends.
6. etc?

I find it funny that the "OUCH" article above suggests sending good articles instead to Science Journal. It's like politics! Just switch Science and Nature for Republicans and Democrats, and notice that there is really no difference.

Neither of them are honestly relevant anymore. Sure, once in a great while they might have something relevant to any one researcher (which is why I subscribe to the E-table of contents), but for the most part reading them is useless for me. I could read Scientific American and get really good science writing, or I could read a specialist journal like Zootaxa or J-NABS or Proceedings of the Linnaean Society. Nobody READS Science or Nature anymore. Just like no one READS the New York Times anymore. If anything we just page through to see if there's anything interesting, and then toss it back on the pile.
Heh, what is it called again? the two man con?
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Re: Womanspace, Nature Journal, and the huge blowout.
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2011, 09:02:41 pm »
what a stupid story.

also, the author is an idiot in the comments. he really doesn't seem to grasp that his story is offensive, or that it doesn't really matter whether he did not intend it to be offensive or not, his intentions are irrelevant, and he should just stop think and realize that. not that he will, because he believes his intentions were not bad, so why should he change his mind about anything? and then he even got his wife to stand up for him?? :lulz: the word "sock puppet" briefly flashed through my mind, but that would probably be too beautiful ...
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Kai

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Re: Womanspace, Nature Journal, and the huge blowout.
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2011, 09:05:51 pm »
what a stupid story.

also, the author is an idiot in the comments. he really doesn't seem to grasp that his story is offensive, or that it doesn't really matter whether he did not intend it to be offensive or not, his intentions are irrelevant, and he should just stop think and realize that. not that he will, because he believes his intentions were not bad, so why should he change his mind about anything? and then he even got his wife to stand up for him?? :lulz: the word "sock puppet" briefly flashed through my mind, but that would probably be too beautiful ...

What really makes me think sockpuppet are the comments in response to this article: http://isisthescientist.com/2011/11/17/what-womanspace-really-looks-like-and-why-nature-can-suck-it/

Love the title btw.  :lulz: Check out the comments by Stein and Chebag; sounds like they could be sock puppets set up by Nature.

ETA: or just Stein. Got to pay more attention not to get fooled by Poe's Law.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2011, 09:08:07 pm by 'Kai' ZLB, M.S. »
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Kai

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Re: Womanspace, Nature Journal, and the huge blowout.
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2011, 02:36:51 am »
On another note, I just told off a butthurt male in a facebook thread who was harrassing a female scientist friend of mine expressing her displeasure at this shitty story. I basically told him to shut up and listen, let her talk about what's bothering her instead of treating her offense as, well, "hysterical" in the classical sense that word was used to refer to women getting upset about their mistreatment.

I am sick and tired of "but look, men are treated badly too!" As far as I can tell, men weren't treated as a whole as second class citizens barely higher than slaves for most of human history.
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