Despite evidence to the contrary it is entirely possible that there are Star Trek aficionados who, despite spending far too much time before a television screen living in an imaginary world, are sensible, sane people. However, when you combine lifelong devotion to Captain Kirk with ardent feminism you are heading for the most unholy screw up, what we in Scotland term a burach.
March for Science is one of the USA’s many social justice movements. Being keen on promoting the study of science they also, of course, see it as part of their remit to demonise President Trump. The group are busy planning a major demonstration next month in opposition to President Trump’s policies on science and the environment. It will probably come as a surprise to The Donald that he actually has a science policy.
The promoters of the march have chosen to court the progressive rent-a-crowd who are always willing to turn up to demonstrate their moral virtue and political acumen. Being associated with ‘science’ will give them a feeling of superiority to the unthinking objectionables who support Trump. After all, there is not much point in being a progressive if you can’t sneer.
Last month, the March for Science organisers tweeted out a question designed to recruit the willing progressive women and other feminists who seem to proliferate on the wilder shores of the social justice movement:
‘Are you a female who thought about doing engineering but decided against it? Why? What can the science community do better? #ScienceMarch’.
Fair enough, a seemingly routine yet well-crafted request for help. It’s a clear message which asks a question and solicits suggestions about ways of surmounting gender inequality in STEM subjects. It opens the door to an affirmative response even if you didn’t change course from nuclear engineering to nursery management. The responses, however, were not all helpful or favourable.
Dealing with progressives means that no matter how ‘right on’ you attempt to be you will in the end be bitten. Just ask Germaine Greer and Peter Tatchell. Progressives are ready to be outraged at the merest hint of the drop of a hat, especially feminists.
Courting progressives brings its own dangers and March for Science is reaping the consequences of their tweet. Its progressive audience either completely missed the point or decided that this would be yet another opportunity to be outraged, or perhaps both. March for Science has been inundated with Twitter abuse for using the ‘F’ word – ‘female’. If there is one thing feminists cannot stand it is the use of the word ‘female’. No, I can’t figure it out either.
Michael Oman-Reagan, a Canadian anthropologist is a man of many interests, such as campaigning against the Oxford Dictionary’s ‘sexist definitions’. He is also clearly a deeply knowledgeable about science and its priorities as he is known for demanding the ‘queering’ of space travel. Using a reference to Star Trek he tweeted March for Science: ’Are you a Ferengi who thought about doing Twitter but decided against it? Why? What can the science community do better’.
For those of you who don’t still live at home with your parents, the Ferengi feature in Star Trek as an extraterrestial race who are uber capitalists. Their great motivations are trade and making a profit. In progressive speak, there can be no greater insult that to accuse someone of being a Ferengi.
Rachel Tatman, not a hard scientist but studying for a PhD in linguistics at the University of Washington, continued the Ferengi theme: ‘I don’t love ‘female’ as a noun to refer to women. Makes you sound like a Ferengi’.
Alessondra (Sandy) Springman is an actual rocket scientist studying asteroids and comets at Arizona University. She describes herself as an ‘anticolonial intersectional feminist’, she also herds cats. Her advice to March for Science was terse: ‘delete your account you colossal waste of carbon’. Reasoned response clearly does not rate very highly in the progressive world of feminist scientists.
The march organisers responded as those under progressive attack all too often do; they apologised. In a series of tweets they grovelled:
‘Mistakes happen, and this probably won’t be the last one. But we’re in it for the long haul, and we’re listening.’
‘Science is strong when we listen to each other, and make space for our many voices. We’re in this for the long haul.’
We’re sorry for any harm we caused. We’re listening and we’re learning.’
‘We are grateful to have had folks both inside AND outside the march providing useful feedback about why these tweets were wrong.’
‘Thanks to everyone who pointed out some problematic tweets we made recently. Language matters, especially when it comes to inclusion.’
Being outraged over the unintentional offence of a harmless word instead of addressing the matter at hand is indicative of the priorities of many feminists. Arguments of identity are clearly more important to some of them than actually addressing an issue. This is understandable as working to solve what is seen as a problem is not half as much fun as maintaining one’s position in the progressive pecking order.
(Image: Neil Cummings)