You know the story: feminists hate science. It’s clear, it’s catchy, it’s a headline that fits with most media messaging about feminists – they (we!) hate things. Everything! What else do they/we hate? SRSLY WHO HAS TIME TO ENUMERATE THE THINGS FEMINISTS HATE I AM TOO BUSY HATING THINGS. Now, I’m a feminist scientist, by which I mean not just a feminist who is a scientist but, instead, a feminist who is a scientist who does feminist science, which is just a teensy weensy bit of a paradox according to the rules and yet here I am feministing and sciencing and feminist-sciencing all the same as if I existed just like you. But, maybe I’m not a paradox: maybe the rules are the paradox (they are rules, yet not true!). Maybe the “feminists hate science” is the stupid; some sort of fake news just like most of what non-feminists and anti-feminists “know” about feminism. And, yes, I did just say “the stupid”. And, yes, please do not tell my seven-year-old because “stupid” is not something I am supposed to say.
So, like any self-respecting scientist, I turned to my Facebook friends to learn about things and stuff. Now, you should know that my Facebook friends are basically all feminists, including the men who are totally willing to use the heart emoticon but just haven’t had reason to yet (I SEE YOU). This might be surprise number two: feminists hate science, fer sher, but also definitionally hate men, so I am clearly lying already. Let me shake the foundations of everything you believe yet again: feminists don’t hate men, except that one guy, you know? We all hate him. Ok, so all my friends are feminists but, let’s be honest, not just feminist but super feminist. Like, feminist to the nines (what does that even mean). Like, feminist scholars and activists. We are all up in feminism and feminism is all up in us. And what were they/we all posting about on the day of the Science March? Here is a multiple-choice quiz:
- A) How much we hate science and not only because, as feminists, we are contractually required to;
- B) Our passion for science, super for real and not even ironically;
- C) Milkshakes (because: obviously);
- D) That guy we all hate;
- E) Whether multiple-choice exams should have four or five answer options AND IT GOT UGLY!
The answer, people, is B. All my feminist peoples were like Science March here! Science March there! Below, ME with poster at Science March! A baby or dog or something (baby dog?) dressed as a science thing at Science March! Science this! Science that! Me, myself? I told you I was a feminist scientist. Here is what I posted that day, and I’m not even lying.
Here is another photo of us, in case you think the first one was faked like the moon landing. (Just kidding! Feminists hate humor, so I can understand if you took that too seriously.)
Ok, so, perchance I have proven to you with my lengthy and sophisticated exposition that feminists don’t hate science or at least some feminists don’t hate science, and that Run-D.M.C. sign supports our cause. But does that mean that feminists love science? Here’s where the nuances get started being nuancey. Most of the feminists I know do not hate science but many don’t love science either: we (the feminists, and luckily I’ve been elected to speak on behalf of all people all the time) are passionate about science; we want science to be better; we know that science has done, is doing, and will do really problematic things and we want people to understand that science – like every single other thing that human people do, except for milkshake-making – is not neutral but political. That’s right! WE THINK SCIENCE IS POLITICAL AND WE DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT! Well, in fact, we do care who knows it but in the sense that everyone should know it. Why? Because it’s true.
Are you like, no! Science is not and can never be political? I get it. I grew up in science too (and here is an interesting post about thinking outside that training called “Swimming Up From Scientism”). I’m a scientist now! Some of my best friends are scientists! But, let me assure you that you should believe me because I have a PhD and am the writer of this post: science is political. In fact, you know what? Don’t believe me! Believe all the people who actually do research on how science is political as their day job. Like, you say you want people to listen to and believe experts? Like, trust scientists on their science? Well, the same thing goes for whether science is political: there is literally no scholar who studies whether science is political would claim it isn’t. And if you find one, they are a crap scholar akin to the climate denial “scientists.” Read a whole nother post about “The March for Science… and Politics?”, by a brilliant wonderful person who does feminist and queer biology, Anne Fausto-Sterling (and yes I called her brilliant, how dare I but it’s true!) (also, it’s not a competition but someone once called me brilliant, though that person was British and I had only really brought them tea and they were thirsty) (and no, of course they did not like the tea that I, a Canadian in the U.S.A., made and brought them).
I also get that, if you’re a scientist, you might be thinking: how could anyone be more of an expert on whether science is political than me? Doing science isn’t the same as doing scholarship about science though. Another way to think of this is that scientists do science, but science studies folks study science. Sort of like, if you have a car, you drive it somewhere. You may enjoy it. You may know a fair bit about your car. But if you really need to know something about your car or fix it, you ask an auto-mechanic or a vehicular scholar (I totally made “vehicular scholar up) (see my post here on this called “I’m Made of Particles, so I’m a Particle Physics Expert!”). In other words, value expertise, which is (at least partly) what the Science March is all about, eh?
Maybe you’re like: I’m done with reading! Maybe you think feminists hate everything but really, you hate feminism! Ok. Fair enough, no more reading. Instead, I think you should watch this: an incredibly smart, thoughtful, and engaging speaker on the official line-up at the Ann Arbor Science March. I know we all hate watching video clips-what, that’s just me? Most people like watching video clips? Oh! Ok, we’re good then. Because this is a 7-minute clip of Yiran (Emily) Liu, a University of Michigan Honors Program Student with a major in Cellular and Molecular Biology, and a minor in Law, Justice, and Social Change explaining everything you need to know about this post: why feminists science so hard.
FULL DISCLOSURE OF PROUDNESS: THIS STUDENT WAS IN MY FIRST-YEAR SEMINAR AND TOOK MY GRADUATE SEMINAR (AS AN UNDERGRAD) AND I COULD NOT BE PROUDER!!