‘I Fucking Love Science’ is Run by a Girl. So What?


Spend any amount of time on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr (especially Tumblr) you’ll find exactly a bajillion and one comments, memes and motivation posters supporting equality and the breaking down stereotypes.

Gamer Girls

Fight the power.

I’m happy to get on board with this sentiment. There is a disgraceful degree of sexism at work on the internet and doubly so among gamers. Considering you’ll never meet most of the people you game with in real life there shouldn’t be any issue with whoever is on the other end of the controller. When I’m playing Injustice online I don’t care who is on the other side of the screen, I just care about how long I can hold out before I get my ass handed to me. Survey’s taken only last year show that 47% of gamers are women, so if you’re getting uppity everyone time you encounter one playing World of Warcraft then you’re…well, stupid.

With all the sentiment being thrown around in quirky cartoons and outrage at every sexist response to a tweet one could be forgiven for thinking that the tides were turning and there was a march against gender stereotyping. And then something like the recent debacle surrounding the ‘I Fucking Love Science’ Twitter and everything falls to pieces.

For those who didn’t catch this, you no doubt have encountered the ‘I Fucking Love Science’ Facebook page. For several months I assumed I’d been following it because it was always in my feed. It turns out that so many people were reposting the material from the source that it looked as though I followed it myself. The page had been around for quite some time and had garned somewhere in the region of four and a half million followers. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s funny and clever and they clearly fucking love science.

They? Sorry, I meant she. ‘I Fucking Love Science’ expanded from their home on Facebook to Twitter with the site admin, Elise Andrew, revealing herself for the first time. The response from the loyal fans?

COMPLETE.

FUCKING.

MELTDOWN.

shocked-cat

This site…this site about science…is single-handedly run by a woman?! Andrew herself noted that every single comment following this reveal (that, it should be noted, was made with no fanfare whatsoever) expressed their shock that she had girl parts.

Elise Andrew Twitter

I guess it was a bit of a surprise. When there’s a popular facebook page like this you may have imagined something more stereotypically nerdy. It’s a facebook page and it’s about science, and some people chose to express their surprise. Fine, you’ve expressed you’re surprise. Time to move on and continue enjoying this fine page.

If only that was the end of it. As you can see above Elise Andrew is also attractive. Suddenly Andrew is no longer judged as a popular facebook page creator, but also as a woman and as everyone knows a woman is only to be judged by their appearance. Soon the comments turned from compliments about her blog and onto comments about her looks. A few responses indicated that perhaps it doesn’t matter who writes the blog, but what content the blog featured.

Fans  quickly changed their tune and things returned to normal. That is, people reblogged funny comments about why they fucking love science.

Hahaha, as if.

Pratt

This prat (see what I did there?) helpfully points out that the men of Twitter were merely making a judgement based on the one photograph they have seen and flat out ignoring the reason why she’d become a popular blogger in the first place, and she should be pleased with this. As the patronising dickbag above states, Elise Andrew is seeing sexism where it doesn’t exist (dear). Why shouldn’t she be pleased? The comments that she had received were subtle and eloquent. 

Responses to I Fucking Love Science twitter post

How can she not take comments like “Holy fucking balls of all that is ass you’re cute” as anything but a compliment? That’s practically a Hallmark card. There’s nothing wrong with passing someone a compliment, but let’s be clear about one thing. This ‘compliment’ is not going to make anyone feel good about themselves. It’s going to make them cringe with embarrassment. If you can’t compliment someone without sounding as though you’re an eight year old who just discovered swear words then just keep your compliments to yourself.

It’s actually Tyler Linson’s comment that is even more insulting, declaring that “damn thats hot hahaha”. Why? Because you envisioned a man doing a man job but it’s actually a woman? The implication here is that the woman’s status is elevated because she’s doing a job that is traditionally seen as a mans role. It’s clear that they meant it as a compliment but it represents a shift in tone. ‘I Fucking Love Science’ is no longer the cool Facebook page about science…for many people it’s the cool Facebook page by the hot geek girl. This is further reflected in the people who helpfully tried to support her but managed to keep the focus on the fact that Elise Andrew is in fact an attractive woman.

Taree

You are hereby excused from helping.

Unfortunately we’re unlikely to see a sudden turnaround in the behaviour that seems to erupt whenever a woman is either successful or bold in an online environment. This attitude is stupid. Completely and utterly stupid. A person’s gender does not have any bearing on the topics or forms they chose to express themselves in, especially on the internet which is a largely faceless medium. Whenever a comic gets written by a man it is judged as a comic, but when a woman does the same it gets judged as how well it is ‘for a woman’. That’s the best case scenario: if the woman is deemed to be ‘hot’ then it can (as demonstrated in the case above) completely overshadow the work they have done. Some people seems to feel that this actually adds weight to their work, because they’re hot AND talented as though one has something to do with the other. This attitude has become so commonplace that you can predict what happens next – some douche gets uppity because the woman just wants to be judged on the merit of their work and claims that they are being overtly sensitive to sexism.

This is most frustrating part of it all because so often people don’t see it as being sexist. If you are complimenting a person on their image then no harm, but the implication that their gender and appearance have some bearing on their ability to succeed IS sexist. The world would be a happier place if people could look at the ‘I Fucking Love Science’ page and tell the author why they like it without throwing in a “and you’re a girl!” or “plus you’re really cute!”. It undermines their accomplishment in a creative field.

Perhaps another way of looking at it (and I really am writing this as a stream of consciousness) is that the men making these comments suddenly feel threatened that a woman has met them on equal ground and succeeded. Her Twitter account has more followers and if you can accredit this to them being attractive then you can chalk up some points for yourself. The increasingly petty host of another popular site (which will go unnamed because they don’t deserve the publicity) even tried to jump of the bandwagon by adding a link to their page along with some comments about women using their looks to get extra followers. Although with traffic a tiny, tiny proportion of what it once was the unnamed site is pretty desperate to get some attention back on them.

I’ll try and wrap this up by saying this: try and not be assholes. Don’t get snarky because a woman didn’t accept your compliment about how hot they are after they post a painting they did. Do your very best to judge their work on the merits of their work. It’s fine to offer people criticism or compliments on their creative output regardless of who they are. It’s also fine to pay a compliment to someone based on their appearance – you might just make their day. But let’s move past this attitude that the two can be tied together.