“Dude, you know your labmate? She’s got huge tits” wink wink nudge nudge… “Come on, you’d hit that in a heartbeat wouldn’t you? Just be honest with me bro.”
What do you do when another grad student is talking about your labmate, someone who you view as a colleague and a good friend, like she is furniture (see Soylent Green) that comes with the labspace? Aside from punching the redneck douche in the face, I mean? Granted this guy was a slimy piece of shit and everyone knew it. But if this is just one guy-to-guy interaction in academia in one department in one major university in one country of the world. Scale up.
I’ve been reading, and been supportive of, women scientists’ writings concerning their experiences with breaking into the “boy’s club” of science. I wasn’t ignorant of the issues before knew of the existence of blogs and being the only male in an all female lab might have made me a little more sensitive to their frustrations. I know empathy doesn’t make the douchitude go away, or improve their working conditions, but its a start.
I know from lots of my readings that there is a certain feeling of togetherness from the women bloggers, a healthy sense of support, with some male cheerleaders. I guess I fall into the category of male cheerleader. And I hope that women don’t mind us standing up for them. I mean its a good thing right? We care about the problem and want to see fairness of our friends and colleagues in the workplace.
But sometimes I get the feeling that some female bloggers just wish we shut up and let them solve the problem their selves. By having a penis I am not somehow allowed to be interested in women’s issues. But when the ‘dude’ makes an assumption that since I’m in the “boy’s club” its totez kool to have locker room talk in the lab, I’m going to call him out. And I do too. In the real-life example above I yelled at him, something close to exact words were:
“Who the fuck do you think I am? She’s my friend and labmate, plus I’m married? I don’t want to hear you talk about talk her like that ever again.”
Strangely redneck douche guy was drunk at a party a little after that incident and my wife was sitting next to me on a sofa. He very drunkenly sat down on the other side of me and very drunkenly turned to me and said “Dude, that girl next to you is fucking hot. What are you going to do about it?” To which I told him that she was my wife. He didn’t talk to me much after that. I am known to have a bad temper and break shit (sometimes people, but in my defense he was really just too skinny, a normal collarbone would have held up).
I guess my point with all this is, there are insiders in the boy’s club of science. We are working to break down this barrier too. But it sure as hell ain’t easy, especially when you douchelords like exhibit A above. I think he in postdocdom now and may eventually, even likely, become in an advisorial role. It is easy to call it out to another grad student, but how do grad students call out postdocs or faculty? How do junior faculty call out senior faculty? How do untenured staff call out rockstar faculty member? Shit rolls downhill.
I hope there gets to be more insiders and I hope more people speak up for women. And I hope that women don’t mind us intervening. You don’t, nor shouldn’t, have to fight this battle alone.