CNN Makes Jaclyn Friedman Sound Like a Victim-Blamer! Again!

It’s hardly a well-kept secret that journalists can make an interviewee sound like she said pretty much anything. Those of us who are asked to speak on controversial topics know we risk seeing our words twisted to fit a predetermined narrative — even to suggest the exact opposite of what we clearly meant — every time we agree to an interview. But it’s still quite a jaw-dropper to watch it happen as blatantly as it did this week, when CNN’s Carol Costello warped an interview with Jaclyn Friedman (friend of SP and co-editor of Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape) into something about “raunch culture” and the pernicious influence of Ke$ha. The whole video (which purports to explore “what could be the ‘third wave’ of feminism,” because apparently, the last twenty fucking years have gone unnoticed by CNN) and a transcript are available over at Shakesville. But here’s the juicy part:

Costello: When it comes to binge drinking, experts say, sadly women are up to the challenge. According to Southern Illinois University, in 1996, 33 percent of women admitted to binge drinking or having five drinks in one sitting in the past two weeks. In 2008, that percentage shot up to nearly 41 percent.

Jaclyn Friedman, Editor, “Yes Means Yes”: It’s a really troubling message.

Costello: That’s disturbing to feminist editor Jaclyn Friedman. She says women having fun or making stupid mistakes is one thing, but adopting destructive, raunchy behavior is scary.

Friedman: When it comes to sexual assault, most rapists use alcohol to facilitate sexual assault.

Aaaand, bam, Jaclyn’s gone and we’re back to Ke$ha. That song is so catchy!

If you’re looking at that part I bolded and going, “WTF, Jaclyn?” well, you should be. You’re absolutely right that it sounds nothing like the position of a feminist activist who spends half her life explaining and decrying rape culture. Mostly because it’s not her position. Not even a little bit. On Twitter, Jaclyn’s explained that she actually “said there was a double standard worrying about girls’ drinking and not boys’, and that the trouble with the binge drinking culture in general is that it gives plausible deniability to rapists. And that we should be telling men that THEY need to drink responsibly, because alcohol’s not an excuse to rape! ARGGGGHHHHHH.”

So the real question is “WTF, Carol Costello? What the fucking fuck?”

Jaclyn was kind enough to G-chat with me for a few minutes this morning before she got on a plane. I could probably keep ranting about this bullshit for another 90 pages or so, but for now, I’ll just leave you with what she sounds like when the interviewer is not merely exploiting a subject’s feminist credentials to further a tiresome, sexist narrative about “dirty girls.”

Jaclyn: Part of the problem is one of nuance — the things I’m trying to say sound complicated, because they aren’t things that people have heard much before. It’s easy to understand the “OMG bad girls! Danger!” trope. Everybody knows it and can name that tune in three notes.

Me: And that tune is apparently “Tik Tok.”

Jaclyn: Hee. Yes. It’s a lot harder to say: “Wait. It’s not that simple.” To talk about women’s freedom to be “good” or “bad” or drink or even do risky things, just as men have that freedom, while simultaneously talking about the real danger that is violence against women, and how the “bad girl” trope is used to excuse it. But I also think they knew what story they wanted. And when I didn’t give it to them, they just made it work anyhow.

Me: Yep.

Jaclyn: Because they never once asked me about “raunchy behavior.” Or third wave feminism!

Me: I know! I can’t stop laughing at “what could be the third wave,” even though it also makes me want to cry.

Jaclyn: And I told them straight up that it was ridiculous to wring our hands over girls’ drinking and give boys a free pass. I’m just so angry. Because this is the second time I’ve been on CNN. Different producers, different reporters, different shows. And the EXACT SAME THING happened both times: I gave a smart, nuanced interview in which I steadfastly refused to victim-blame. And they edited me to sound like a total victim-blamer.

Me: Unbelievable.

Jaclyn: To be fair, I haven’t done this kind of soundbite interview for any other networks. So I’m not singling out CNN over, say, FOX or MSNBC. I have no idea.

Me: But if they’re going to keep spinning it like this, it’s like, what’s the point of having you on instead of just inviting someone from the Independent Women’s Forum or whatever?

Jaclyn: What’s the point? I have more cred. Which they are evidently determined to DESTROY.

Me: And then this goes out there as “what bona fide feminists believe,” and we have to spend even more time telling trolls that’s bullshit.

Jaclyn: EXACTLY. I mean, I’m CRUSHED to think anyone now thinks I actually believe that bullshit. I spend my entire life trying to UNDO that bullshit.

Me: I know!

Jaclyn: I am secretly pleased about one thing: All the people who bought Yes Means Yes b/c they saw me on that segment are going to have quite the surprise when they start reading. :)

Me: Ha! Right on.

Jaclyn: We did get a sales spike after it ran.

Me: That is terrific news… Although also sort of depressing news because it reinforces why we need to keep throwing ourselves to the wolves like this.

Jaclyn: Uch, I know.

Me: Well, thank you for taking one for the team YET AGAIN.

Jaclyn: NP. Wish it had gone better.

60 thoughts on “CNN Makes Jaclyn Friedman Sound Like a Victim-Blamer! Again!

  1. Carol Costello is shaming one of the finest, most upstanding last names ever to appear to be Italian but in fact be Irish. Jeez, Carol. Don’t make my life less illustrious by name-association.

  2. Yeah, I saw this on Shakesville yesterday and it pissed me off royally. Email sent to http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/form1.html?18

    Text as follows:

    Carol Costello’s piece on “what might be the third wave of feminism” was so badly researched, with quotes and clips taken out of context, as to be absurd. In the 30 seconds it takes to Google “third wave feminism,” she could very easily have found out that feminism’s third wave began almost twenty years ago, and isn’t about sex and drunkenness. I’m used to thinking of CNN as being a source of actual journalism, not badly-done misinformation.

    Maybe next she could do a piece about this newfangled thing called the “gay rights movement”? Although, from what I’ve heard, it’s probably mostly about sex and drinking.

  3. Thank you so much for this. I was perplexed and dismayed by that segment and it’s good to see it cleared up here

  4. Good lord. While I read this I keep thinking, “but there must be something you can do — some promise you can extract beforehand, some public editor to hold them accountable after the fact — just something because this is bullshit no one would have to deal with.” And there’s really not is there?
    Do they not see how the lack of integrity leads to distrust and declining interest in traditional journalism? Or do they not care?

  5. CNN: you know, if you can’t be bothered to get the lyrics of the song you’re citing (which are 1. available many places and 2. make a lot more sense but support your messy premise less if you cite them correctly) right in your own transcript, I don’t know why I should think you’ve been any less sloppy with the rest of your editing. (Ke$ha’s song does not refer to brushing her teeth with a bottle a DAY; it’s “with a bottle o’ Jack” which still may not be the healthiest possible behavior but is very different from suggesting she slugs a fifth of whiskey every dang day)

    Kate, Jaclyn, et al: Since I have been meaning to read Yes Means Yes but it has been checked out the couple of times I’ve looked at the library, after this ball of stupid I just went and bought a copy so I can read it and then leave it where my teenage sons will see it. This seems like a more constructive response than my first impulse, which involved smiting the reporter. :D

  6. ahhhhh. this is part of why i don’t watch the news. when i do interviews i send the interview to the interviewee beforehand for fact-checking, so that they’re happy with what i write. but, like, no one does that.

  7. CNN jumped the shark so long ago that I feel like it needs to have a new term invented for it. I don’t think I’m quite clever enough today to come up with one… but y’know, it needs to happen.

    Also Carol Costello is clearly a 4 person douche canoe. Not only is she working for what is currently the worst news network, perhaps ever, (I know Fox is biased but the lack the same self righteous vapidity.) SHE IS MAKING PEOPLE NICE ENOUGH TO COME ON HER CRAPPY NETWORK LOOK BAD. I know it is a journalist thing and they all do it but that just means they are ALL douche canoes. All of them.

  8. GOD. UGH. You know, CNN, if all you want is a titillating and sanctimonious slogan, you don’t really have to interview people. I mean, that’s a lot of trouble for you and the interviewee. Why not just use the time and money to make a really killer graphic that says “DRUNK SLUTS AMIRITE?” and flash that over and over on the screen. Fuckers.

  9. What pissed me the hell off is Costello and CNN framed binge drinking and raunch culture as what third-wave feminism is. Like the whole movement is about getting fucked up and flashing your boobs. Not that there’s anything wrong with getting fucked up and flashing your boobs, if that’s what you’re into, but obviously neither act has anything to do with feminism of any wave, let alone defines it.

    I wrote CNN an angry e-mail about their shitty research and willful dishonesty and for spinning Friedman’s words out of context. I hope they’re getting flooded.

  10. I don’t watch CNN and would have never known about this segment, but thanks for setting the record straight!

  11. when i do interviews i send the interview to the interviewee beforehand for fact-checking, so that they’re happy with what i write. but, like, no one does that.

    To be fair, I can see why going that far is often impossible and can sometimes be counterproductive. As an interviewee, I think it would be lovely to see every interview before it goes to print or air, but I can live without that (and as the occasional interviewer, I can definitely live without waiting around for a subject to sign off and/or having them try to rewrite it for me). But fact-checking? Is really nice when it happens. Which is so damn rarely. And if nothing else, it would be REALLY, REALLY nice if media outlets didn’t turn the volume down on what you actually said and then claim you said the opposite. I don’t think that’s really asking too much.

  12. Kate, Jaclyn, et al: Since I have been meaning to read Yes Means Yes but it has been checked out the couple of times I’ve looked at the library, after this ball of stupid I just went and bought a copy

    Hooray! Thanks, L.

  13. To paraphrase Jean Baudrillard (and this is one instance where theory seems not only appropriate but absolutely slam-fist-down necessary in grasping how this CNN shizz works): What we have just witnessed is more of the destruction of every referential, of every human goal, the shattering of every ideal distinction between true and false, good and evil, in order to establish a radical law of equivalence and exchange whose only final goal is the iron law of power in the hands of those with power.

    In other words, Jaclyn Friedman, you got served! BOOYAH! Welcome to sound bite culture. AH YEAH. (<<<The preceding hyperreal sentence used for demonstration purposes only. I'm actually saddened at how depressingly reductive and seemingly pointless the whole media game is. I'm not familiar with Friedman's work, but if it comes recommended by Kate, I'd be willing to check it out. And so I'm glad it's gotten this much exposure, thanks to CNN. The game sometimes works in our favor, too. And maybe one way to beat it is to recognize the unspoken rules it imposes on players and then play it for what we ultimately want and need.)

  14. Ugh. I don’t understand how journalists can look at themselves in the mirror when they clearly don’t fact check and take shit out of context. My research involves interviews and I OBSESS over this very issue. Do I know what the hell I’m talking about? Have I portrayed this person fairly? Will what I write hurt this person or group? Can my research be used in negative ways that I didn’t intend? It can be paralyzing to be honest.

    And can I just ask what the hell ‘raunch culture’ is about? Hello, Kesha isn’t saying anything new. Male hip artists have been saying this kind of shit for two decades.

    And I’m sorry but I’ve used Listerine and I don’t see a whole lot of difference between that and Jack Daniels. I would prefer bourbon, however.

  15. I should add that ‘raunch culture’ is also very much apart of rock and roll in general not just hip hop.

  16. when i do interviews i send the interview to the interviewee beforehand for fact-checking, so that they’re happy with what i write. but, like, no one does that.

    To be fair, I can see why going that far is often impossible and can sometimes be counterproductive. As an interviewee, I think it would be lovely to see every interview before it goes to print or air, but I can live without that (and as the occasional interviewer, I can definitely live without waiting around for a subject to sign off and/or having them try to rewrite it for me). But fact-checking? Is really nice when it happens. Which is so damn rarely. And if nothing else, it would be REALLY, REALLY nice if media outlets didn’t turn the volume down on what you actually said and then claim you said the opposite. I don’t think that’s really asking too much.

    yeah, i can see how it’s impossible too. i did it because i wrote for a local underground zine at the time, and i had the time.

    fact checking is important. i think it all has to do with integrity as a journalist. i don’t know if many journalists cares about integrity anymore (case in point – this.) But I was trained that it’s important.

  17. There is nothing new under the sun. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FE3pijGW73Y.

    This is Ben Goldacre on “The Now Show” on BBC Radio 4 ranting about the media’s misrepresentation of science. He starts with health stuff, which is also important, but at the end, he talks about the Daily Telegraph misrepresenting research on rape.

    A scientific press release with the title “Promiscuous Men More Likely to Rape” was reported in the Telegraph with the headline “Women Who Dress Provocatively More Likely to be Raped”. That headline was simply made up. There was absolutely nothing in the research which would support that headline at all.

    Media, huh?

    TRiG.

  18. And I’m sorry but I’ve used Listerine and I don’t see a whole lot of difference between that and Jack Daniels.

    Seriously! My sister almost got kicked out of middle school because she stuck a bottle of Listerine in her locker to swish after lunch, and this violated the school’s alcohol policy.

  19. Oh, Other Becky, that is a righteous complaint letter. <3 <3 <3

    Also, Shinobi, did you make up "douche canoe"? Because that's marvelous.

  20. Timothy (TRiG) – Or there’ll be a study about how girls do better in all-girl math and science classes and then an article will come out saying women are biologically unfit for STEM fields or something. The media does that kind of shit all the time – twists everything to fit and reinforce the status quo.

  21. wiggles,

    I’ve heard that in hard maths and science fields the geniuses tend to be male, and so do the dunces. Whether this is (a) true for biological reasons, (b) true for societal reasons, or (c) not true, I don’t know. I do know that I’m pretty good at maths and science, but my little sister is probably quite a bit better. She puts more work into it too. She could go into either physics or pure mathematics and be excellent at either. (She’s making the decisions now, looking into PhD options.)

    Of course, A and B are not mutually exclusive options either. Nature/Nurture is a false dichotomy. Everything is both.

    TRiG.

  22. I’ve heard that in hard maths and science fields the geniuses tend to be male, and so do the dunces.

    I am in a good mood this morning and therefore not getting out the shouty caps, but you need to realise how much this sounds like you are defining “hard” maths and science fields as “the ones girls/women don’t do as well in”. Which is a convenient way of making sure even women who are unequivocally mathematic and/or scientific geniuses don’t get their due — because they’re only geniuses in the easy fields, amirite?

    It’s like how biological/life sciences were acclaimed as the great white hope for curing disease, prolonging lifespan, etc until it turned out lots of women were really good at them. Now it seems like I can’t read the news without coming across at least one article discussing how they are the “soft” fields and women are better suited to them because of emotions and our ovaries while the male scientists are off solving quantum physics — you know, stuff that matters. Uuugggghhh.

  23. And I realise you’re posting it as something you’ve heard, not as fact, but you might want to reflect on the societal narrative that brought it to your ears before putting it up there as something worth discussing.

  24. Seriously! My sister almost got kicked out of middle school because she stuck a bottle of Listerine in her locker to swish after lunch, and this violated the school’s alcohol policy.

    i used to work at a homeless shelter, and our ladies would drink listerine.

  25. Trig said: “A scientific press release with the title “Promiscuous Men More Likely to Rape” was reported in the Telegraph with the headline “Women Who Dress Provocatively More Likely to be Raped”. That headline was simply made up. There was absolutely nothing in the research which would support that headline at all.’
    God, that just pisses me off so bad, I want to jump off the couch, track down whoever did it, and beat the crap out of them. While wearing provocative clothing.
    …Ahem, I’m done now. On topic, that makes me so mad on Ms. Friedman’s behalf- what a way to completely misrepresent the work of a woman who has fought so hard against rape culture. I’d be more angry about the way they portrayed feminism, but sadly I’m so used to that crap I can’t feel more than a sort of tired, quiet “new age, same old shit” kind of thing. I mean, according to the media, the original feminists were crazy, unnatural people who wanted to destroy home and family, the second wave were hairy-legged lesbians who hated men and ate babies, so it’s only natural that the third wave would be party-hearty drunken sluts, amirite?
    Ouch. That hurt to type, but I think you all know what I mean. Mainstream media depiction of feminism has always sucked comically huge goat balls, and I really wish there was some way to change it, but I have a feeling that particular piece of media asswafflery is never going away as long as we live in a patriarchal society. Please tell me I’m being too pessimistic about this?

  26. Having worked with Jaclyn before, I can attest that she is The Awesome. I’m glad she is making sure people hear the correct message — though isn’t the truth more shocking (to those with their heads in the sand) than CNN’s bullshit?

  27. This fucking blows. What I’m not really following here is the simple question “Why?” How the hell does twisting people’s sentiments to make them profess the exact opposite of what they believe serve CNN? Is it just an aim to please some lowest common denominator viewer who’s already got the “DRUNK SLUTS AMIRITE?” (thanks, A Sarah) message and just wants to be reassured that rape is women’s problem and women should deal with it, or does it go deeper than that? If so, how?

  28. I am totally buying that book. And, like Jamie said, I’m going to wear provocative clothing while I do so. Take that, CNN!

    Oh, and, genius in math and science over here. With ovaries!

  29. OMFG! Did they not even read her book. I’ve read Yes Means Yes and it 100% works to dispel this myth that not wearing turtlenecks and floor length skirts and being stone cold sober every second of your life means that you will get raped. I feel like there is an intern at CNN who read the book recommended it to some higher up and is currently fuming that they fucked up so bad.

    This is exactly why I don’t watch the news or read the newspaper, there are so many other ways for me to get important information that I’m unwilling to be confronted with this level of fail.

  30. I find it really sinister when the media deliberately misrepresent a person. I don’t think sinister is too strong a word either because it always seems to misrepresent in a consistently focused way, which long term, IS sinister.

  31. Blarg! I know this kind of gibbering fucksnortery happens in journalism, but it never ceases to aggravate the crap out of me when it does. Unfortunately it’s also not new: 28 years ago when I was in college the FIRST time for broadcasting, I did an interview for the campus radio station with a guy who had recently taken over a program within the English department. I let him know up front that I would be taking relevant clips from the interview and that we probably wouldn’t have enough allotted air time to get everything in, but I’d try my best to capture the essence of it. He asked if he could listen to it first because he’d had experience with being twisted out of context in interviews, and I agreed. He was happy with the result, that wasn’t the sad part. The sad part was how surprised he was by my integrity. (FWIW, I never went into journalism – I went back to school at age 42 and took graphic design).

    Also, @Caitlin:
    And I realise you’re posting it as something you’ve heard, not as fact, but you might want to reflect on the societal narrative that brought it to your ears before putting it up there as something worth discussing

    Erm, it sounded like he actually did. He cited that he’d heard it, stated he didn’t know if it was true or NOT true, and stated that his sister was probably quite a bit better. I felt his entire comment actually sounded quite positive!

  32. How the hell does twisting people’s sentiments to make them profess the exact opposite of what they believe serve CNN? Is it just an aim to please some lowest common denominator viewer who’s already got the “DRUNK SLUTS AMIRITE?” (thanks, A Sarah) message and just wants to be reassured that rape is women’s problem and women should deal with it,

    Well, yeah, it pretty much is about aiming for the LCD — and for outrage and handwringing and anything else (including posts like this) that stirs up emotions strong enough to attract attention. In like 2 minutes. But also, Jaclyn nailed why they would bother to use someone like her — she is a Credible Feminist. So if they put words in the mouth of a Credible Feminist, then it looks like This Is What Feminists Believe instead of what the folks at CNN believe (especially since the kind of people who don’t actually talk to any feminists in real life are inevitably certain that one feminist speaks for all of us).

    That’s if this actually was a sinister attempt to make her say something she didn’t. And that absolutely happens. But the other thing that happens is, people just listen to you, get all confuzzled by the nuance, and then sincerely believe you said something you didn’t. So it’s possible that everyone involved in making that segment happen really thought Jaclyn’s message was, “It’s fine to go a little wild, but going too wild puts you in danger!” It’s what they were expecting to hear, it’s what they believe is true, so it’s certainly possible that they thought they were accurately paraphrasing her. Either way, though, it’s a huge fucking journalism fail, because it’s just not what she said.

    I’ve been really lucky so far, in that I’ve only ever done one interview (for a print publication) where I realized within the first minute that this guy just wanted to write about how stupid and delusional the idea of fat acceptance is, period. So I did my best not to play right into his hands, got off the phone, and never looked for the finished piece. I’ve done several interviews with people who clearly weren’t on board with what I was saying, but where I never felt like I was misrepresented — the questions they ask might make me go, “Oh, for fuck’s sake!” but at least my quotes make sense and say what I meant them to. I can live with that. And sadly, that’s usually what a “good” interview looks like, in my book. (And I turn down anything that’s blatantly just an attempt to use me as a circus clown — like umpteen opportunities to “debate” MeMe Roth on TV — because as much as I would like to sell a lot of copies of the book, I have no interest in turning my beliefs and good-faith arguments into a cynical performance.)

    But I’ve also done interviews with people who seem — and probably are — really nice and curious and non-judgmental, and then I see the finished piece or (rarely but delightfully) get a call from a fact-checker and go, “WHAT? No, I did not say that!” And it’s usually not even a deliberate attempt to twist my words, as far as I can tell — it’s just that people hear what they want to hear. So I say something like, “Sure, eating a balanced and varied diet is a good idea, generally speaking” and that becomes “Harding says it’s important for everyone to eat the right foods and not overindulge.” To me, there is a WORLD of difference between those two statements, but to someone who’s new to the concept of HAES and still very conditioned to think in terms of good and bad foods and discipline vs. gluttony, they probably sound the same. (See also, me: “It’s important to acknowledge that I still have bad days where I think mean things about my thighs and have to really fight off those thoughts, because I don’t want people to think I’m just some kind of non-stop self-confidence machine. I’m by no means immune to the same cultural pressure and self-doubt that gets everybody down — I just work to channel my energy into resisting it rather than beating myself up now.” Writer: “Harding admits that she still doesn’t like her thighs.”)

    So, yeah, I think it’s not always sinister, but it certainly can be, and it’s a problem either way. And given how easy it is for words to get twisted by, say, a thoughtful magazine reporter with a long lead time and a bona fide fact checker to confirm the details, doing this kind of “journalism,” where you come up with a narrative to fill three minutes, bring in “experts” and then only use one or two sentences of what they actually said… well, at best that’s just BEGGING for serious mistakes, and at worst it is, in fact, all about the practice of consciously and soullessly using people as puppets, and exploiting their established credibility to ratify your own beliefs.

  33. WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK. This is a concrete example of why I fucking HATE corporate news. They didn’t actually want to hear what Friedman had to say. They were only interested in furthering their pre-packaged, tired-ass agenda and they grabbed a Credible Feminist to make it sound like All Feminists Agree That Those Wild Dirty Sluts Must Be Shamed. Oh, and P.S. we don’t know how to use Google so we know nothing about third wave feminism. This kind of total journalism FAIL makes me so pissed. How hard is it to DO YOUR FUCKING JOB, CNN?

    I am so mad now that I’m playing Le Tigre at high volume. They’ve got this feminist’s non-existent panties in a twist, for sure.

  34. Oh for fuck’s sake. Seriously?

    I will now go read Yes Means Yes, not because of the CNN douchebaggery, but because the double standard makes me stabby and I’m particularly tired of all this bullshit about “girls today.” Please. I’m didn’t do anything all that different from what my mom did in college in the ’60s and ’70s.

  35. I took a class called Drugs, Society, and Behavior. The professor contended that women should never drink, so they don’t harm their future children. There was even a question on the test “When a man is looking for a wife, which type of women should he pick?” and the choices were like “A) a woman who drinks daily B) a woman who drinks once a week C) a woman who never drinks” etc. Men can drink if they want, however, because they don’t have to worry about their future babies. It was mind-blowingly stupid. And whenever a girl raised her hand to disagree, he would make fun of her.

    Of course there’s nothing anyone can do about it because he’s been teaching at the university for 40 years now.

  36. There was even a question on the test “When a man is looking for a wife, which type of women should he pick?”

    God damn it. I hate to use the term “what century is this,” because it implies that the world is all enlightened and equal now when the fact is I frequently hear and read things in this modern age that are just as retrograde as that test question, but what fucking century is this?

    And whenever a girl raised her hand to disagree, he would make fun of her.

    Stupid asshole ought to be fired.

  37. Caitilin and Joanne,

    Yes, it was intended to be positive, but not expressed very well.* Let’s try again.

    I’ve heard that in hard maths and science fields the geniuses tend to be male, and so do the dunces. For a start, this is wrong. It should read maths and hard sciences, and that’s hard as opposed to soft, not as opposed to easy. I won’t bother rewriting the rest unless I’m asked to because (a) as poorly as it’s put, it is comprehensible (I think), and (b) it’s wandering off topic. There is something interesting to be said about educational expectations for girls and boys, but this probably isn’t the place to say it.

    For what it’s worth, my brother and I went to a mixed school, while our sister went to the girls’ school next door.

    TRiG.

    * I used to be good at writing. I’m not sure what happened.

  38. TRiG

    Not to step on Caitlin’s toes, but I’m pretty sure she knew what you meant by “hard” vs. “soft” sciences.

    Who doesn’t know that “hard” = chemistry and physics and the like, while “soft” = biology (or chemistry that has been tainted by biology) and the social sciences? Supposedly this is in reference to the materials worked with, but really, who thinks that this is the only popular connotation? Also, it’s important to note that these terms replaced “natural” (physics, chemistry, and biology) and “social” as the main cultural division in the sciences right about the time that women began to overtake men in college courses in biology and biochem. Growing up, “natural” is the term my dad – a physics professor – would use all the time. By the time I got to college and huge chunks of my female peers were majoring in biochem, “hard” was the term of choice.

    Nothing you said in response to Caitlin changes the fact that by repeating that meme exactly as it’s presented elsewhere helps to perpetuate the meme. You can say you disagree with it or question it all you want, but phrasing it like that accepts the false framing that makes it so easy for everyone else to believe all that it implies.

    Which is why I don’t think this is completely off topic – it’s a pretty good example of how even well-meaning people can say ignorant stuff or misunderstand or misquote other people when those other people are trying to argue something that doesn’t fit into the dominant framework. If what those other people are saying is completely outside the framework, it can actually take a bit of work for the listener to figure out what they are saying.

    (which is no way is meant to excuse such behavior, especially such ridiculous – and quite possibly malicious – examples as a major news network reporter that can’t be arsed to google “third wave feminism” mostly just arguing that this sojourn is still on topic)

  39. I just got done having to deal with some jackass who kept twisting what I was saying and doing his best to bully me into shutting up. Unfortunately I could not keep my cool to put him in his place but instead walked out calling him a fucking moron. Better luck next time around I guess. I am so sick of this bullshit. Always got to try to keep those women down. fuck that.

  40. A few years ago I was interviewed for CNN. That ridiculous book had just come out saying that women should have kids by the time they’re 27 or else IT’S TOO LATE!!!!!! (I’ve blocked out the name of the book and the idiot author.) The interview itself lasted over an hour, and I had about 30 seconds on air, and it sounded as if I SUPPORTED the premise of the book when, actually, I ABSOLUTELY, UNEQUIVOCALLY DID NOT!!!! In fact, I was 32, with a fucking NEWBORN when they interviewed me.
    I don’t know how we’re supposed to trust ANY news source anymore. Except maybe NPR.

  41. A friend on LJ vented a bit about CNN defining “binge drinking” as “5 or more drinks at a sitting” without defining “drink” or “a sitting”.

    I replied “If it’s the CNN segment I’m thinking of” and summarized with a link here.

    One reply: “Oh, Jaclyn’s a friend and told us ALL ABOUT IT”.

    So…um….small world?

  42. the last interview i did, i used the tape recorder app on my droid (note:don’t) and only as i was walking out the door did i realize that, shit, my tape recorder NEVER STARTED RECORDING. so i kinda had to fudge some things. which is a shame. because it was such a wonderful interview. still wringing my hands about that.

  43. TRiG, what?

    For a start, this is wrong. It should read maths and hard sciences, and that’s hard as opposed to soft, not as opposed to easy.

    You specifically mentioned “hard” and “soft” sciences, and some people explained very clearly why those distinctions are used to devalue the disciplines that have more women in them. Nobody’s saying you’re a bad person, they’re saying it’s infuriating that “hard” and “soft” have become the most common terms, and pointing out that anyone who’s active on a feminist blog will want to consider how that happened and what it means.

  44. TRiG, if you meant to use the phrase “hard sciences” meaning physical sciences and engineering, in distinction to “soft sciences”, meaning life sciences, then no, it is not your typing error to which anyone was objecting. It was the distinction itself. This distinction, to simplify a complex argument, is largely an artificial one made to keep the girls out of the treehouse.

  45. TRiG and others: As a woman in the “hard sciences” (inorganic chemistry FTW!), I’ve noticed there’s a huge problem with the moving target of what constitutes “hard” and “soft” sciences, where those terms come from, etc. Generally people like to pretend “hard” means “mathier,” but that’s totally not true. The amount of mathiness tends to be far more dependent on the individual project than the discipline. It’s also certainly no coincidence that hard is a synonym for difficult. And the line on what’s considered “hard” and “soft” keeps shifting with the taint of female hands and voices. I’ve heard organic chemistry thrown in with the “soft” sciences because there’s a number of women in the field.

    I feel a lot of privilege in my position as a “hard” scientist. People who ooh and aaah at my stuff (mostly laypeople) don’t seem quite as impressed with other grad students in bio or such. Because women are MEANT to be in the “soft” sciences, and I must be hard as balls (pun intended) to work with metals. I must be just as smart as a man!

    Furthermore, the reason we’re having this discussion in the first place is sort of circumspect. Anytime someone mentions women in math/science, we can’t just focus on the punchline that women are steadily increasing their representation in these fields. We HAVE to have SOMEONE mention that women may just not be cut out for it. Even in a fucking feminist space. And you know what? It hurts. Because I’ve worked damn hard to be good at this stuff, as have the other women in my field. We just want to be left alone to do science (you know, our fucking jobs), not questioned on whether our teeny women brains are up to the challenge. I am Shoshie the fucking chemist, and I am a damn good junior scientist.

    Also on media distortion, by PhD Comics: http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1174 It makes me giggle.

  46. Gah, looking back at that comic, I’m a bit PO’ed that he chose the grandma at the end to represent ignorance garnered from new media. ‘Cause, y’know, elderly people are behind on the times and female elderly people, well there’s just no hope. Generic male scientist should just slap his forehead and walk away.

    Um, but the rest of it is pretty funny. Also foil hats.

  47. Also on media distortion, by PhD Comics: http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1174 It makes me giggle.

    I always get a little cringey at those comics, too, because while all you responsible scientists out there surely get burned by that kind of terrible reporting, I’ve seen one too many articles lately where the scientists is on the front lines telling the press “My results show that fatties are ugly and smell bad!” too. Though I suppose some of that could be the kind of misquoting we’re talking about here too . . . I wager not all though.

  48. LilahMorgan-
    Sure, there are totally also problems with scientists misrepresenting their results, especially when they’re researching a hot topic like obesity. I think the point of that comic is there’s so many places where people are trying to explain this complicated scientific issue, it becomes kind of like telephone. The conclusion can get screwed up right at the source, or anywhere along the way. That comic has also addressed scientific misrepresentation in journal articles and scholarly works. That was just not the point of that particular strip.

  49. Jaclyn you rock (your books are fantastic) and I am so glad that the feminist blog world has taken up this storyand explained how you were shafted.

    I know it must be awful for you to have to go through this shit but it is important.

    More sensible feminists on TV means that young girls will be exposed to it, Kate you know your duty ;)

  50. TRiG, as it turns out, I read what you meant to write (rather than what you did) despite your initial typing error, because I knew exactly what you meant to say. How did I? Because it’s exactly what everybody says when the science/maths/hard/soft/WOMEN ARE DEVALUING OUR FIELD conversation rolls around. Which was, you know, my problem with it in the first place.

    In conclusion: the typing error was not the problem. See everyone else’s comments for further information.

    And the line on what’s considered “hard” and “soft” keeps shifting with the taint of female hands and voices.

    Wooww. *chinhands* When did this turn into poetry?

  51. Heh, that’s what happens when you mix a chemistry major with a creative writing minor. ‘Cause I’m all soft and feminine like. Yeah, me and Roald Hoffman. =P

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