I’m turning 34 today, which at least in my life is the moment when seemingly everyone around me has young children, is pregnant, or both. That in itself is great—I love other people’s children. Yet, I can’t help but feel anger and disgust in the face of the patronizing treatment to which my childbearing and childrearing female friends are being subjected. In many cases, my friends have internalized their own abuse and perpetuate it by uttering the following self-deprecating remarks like mantras:
“I have baby brain syndrome.”
“Oh, it’s my pregnancy brain again.”
“That’s just my momnesia.”
“This is the power of my mommy brain!”
If you’re unfamiliar with the manifold offensive ways these (popular/pseudo-) scientific terms are being used, just take a look at this, this, this, and this Google Image search.
I thought I had to write a paper on the history of these ideas to help my friends understand that these stereotype-laden insults are not objective truths but contingent historical constructs crafted to keep them down. To my surprise and amazement, I came across the following mind-blowing selection of existing scholarship. Continue reading →
I announced recently that I had been trying to publish an op-ed and that I would post it here if no newspaper would have it. No newspaper would have it, so here you go (and please imagine it were still the end of December, when this was all more recent and it still seemed a fitting time for new year’s resolutions):
As the year in which President Trump reinstated the ban on
trans* persons from military service is coming to a close, many of us are hoping
for a less transphobic new year. But the current year of sickening transphobia
isn’t quite over yet. “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling just made headlines
by expressing support for Maya Forstater, an openly transphobic researcher who claimed
that sex was unchangeable and had nothing to do with identity. Anthony Ramos
from the LGBTQ+ media advocacy organization GLAAD referred
to Forstater’s view as “an anti-science ideology.”
The disturbing truth is that some scientists hold similar views as Forstater. A recent publication in eNeuro, an open-access journal published by the Society for Neuroscience, proves this point. Author Stephen Gliske, a nuclear physicist by training, proposed a novel theory regarding the neurobiological underpinnings of gender dysphoria (the distress that some trans* individuals experience because of the incongruency between their bodies and gender identities). Much of the argument relies on data from previously published rodent studies.
Disclaimer: Serious times call for serious posts, and this one has nothing to do with neuroscience—though a lot with brains and academia.
People keep asking me if I am “on the (job) market.” I tell them that I’m not, but that I’m applying for jobs.
There is a crucial difference between seeing oneself as an agent (and being treated as such) and being a good “on the market.” Whoever came up with this terrible formulation anyway? The only humans I am aware of who have been on a market (to be sold) were enslaved people. Do we really want to talk like this about ourselves, in my case, a middle-class-raised white German soon-to-be graduate of an Ivy League university?
It makes me sick (!) to hear the “on the market” phrase over and over again from my peers, teachers, and role models. Talking as if we were on a market to be sold means great injustice to those who have been—and still are—actually enslaved, and it diminishes our own power as discerning agents and excellently educated individuals. Is this way of talking (and acting) an indicator of the fact that political correctness and its enforcement are really more of a shallow habit rather than an honest concern of ours? (I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole now.)
So, no, I’m not on the market. And I’m fully aware that up to 45 search committees for jobs and postdocs that I have applied for might be reading this. Hello to you, and thank you for reading my blog.
We are finally, as a country, publicly acknowledging that men have been treating women like shit for ages. Now, even the science that lends support to our iconic gender stereotypes—the science that reinforces the idea that men are biologically programmed to be sex-crazed and that women are basically sex objects—is coming crashing down, too.
Here comes another contribution to my summaries for my list with Susan Lindee. Topic of the day: “History, Tools, and Practices of Genetics and Hereditary Science.” My original notes are much longer than what I provide in this essay, but I have a maximum of six pages to deliver. So I had to cut some of my observations. Have fun! Continue reading →
I want to share some more thoughts which occurred to me while reading John Tresch’s The Romantic Machine recently. I wish to elaborate more on what I missed in the book: intent(ion(ality)) on the machine users’ part. Tresch asserted that he didn’t aim at writing “a story about good intentions gone wrong, or about the sinister underpinnings of seemingly liberatory projects” (25). This is certainly legitimate, but I was wondering: Why not? Doing so would be perfectly in line with my concern for researchers’ hidden agendas, how far these fertilize or corrupt science, and to what extent they make it more or less easy for politics to adapt scientific results for their own purposes—as I pointed out in my paper on “Making Normal Sexuality” and tried to explain with a little more detail in a recent post. Continue reading →
A little bit earlier than the year 2013, my first term at grad school ended. In only a few days from now, I will be showing prospective grad students around, having lunch with them, and telling them that there is no need to be overly nervous on their interview day. Wow. I remember mine like it was a few weeks ago, not 50.5. The time since I arrived at Penn seems to have been flying in particular. It feels like we were swallowed in one piece in August and spit out the end of December. The increasing number of grey hair on my head and marked up books on my shelf seem to be sole solid evidences that I have really existed during these four months.
One more proof seems to be the hard copy of my “Seminar in the History and Sociology of Science” paper (or isn’t it? I don’t remember anybody touching it—apart from myself). It was due some December day at midnight, and I emailed it at 11.47 pm. Obviously, I did not have the time to let it sit for a day or two, and then to revise it thoroughly. In rereading it after handing it in, I discovered that it would most likely not be comprehensible for anyone who doesn’t have my brain in their head. Continue reading →