[trigger warning: misogynoir] D.N. Lee (@DNLee5), a Black scientist (her blog is called The Urban Scientist on Scientific American Mind) was treated in the most disrespectful way by a science publication, Biology-Online.org. They wanted her to blog for them. She inquired about what they wanted, the frequency and the pay. The editor advised her of the details and that there is no pay. She politely declined.
Then their editor replied with “are you urban scientist or an urban whore?”
A Black woman works hard to become a scientist only to be called a “whore” because she expects to be paid for her work. PAID FOR WORK, you know that neat thing that people all over America expects and one that America has a history of not always doing where Black women and Black people in general are concerned? Black women are regularly insulted when we fight back against labor exploitation or even simply say no, like she did. We cannot say no? I’ve been called every name in the book for this.
So not only is the well-engrained hatred of sex workers involved in this insult (because they’re paid for sex, which is outlandish to patriarchy since men feel they are owed sex), not only is there the misogyny that women in STEM face endlessly, but the way this person used her blog title in the insult to be “clever” also implies specific anti-Black misogyny or misogynoir.
Did you ask why some Black women/women of colour and White women avoid STEM like a plague? Did you think it was the sexist myth that all women “can’t” do science and are “afraid” of math? Very few people recognize the gravity of the sexism and racism in STEM and how that (in addition to capitalism) actually shapes what degrees are deemed “useless" or not and even creates a hierarchy among the degrees deemed “useless.” Very few want to examine how the cycle below contributes to why some women opt out of STEM and why some women face so much abuse in STEM:
Gender socialization → Sexism → Misogyny → Stereotype threat → Confirmation bias
The fact that this person would actually type the word “WHORE” in a professional email to someone they sought work from turns my stomach and makes me stabby as hell.
I love her confident and nuanced reply in the video above. I LIVE! She deserves to be treated with respect and this publication with its misogynoir needs to re-evaluate themselves and the editor needs to be held accountable.
(I am not clear if she lost her blog position but her post about her experience was taken down from Scientific American Mind but elaborated on in a post on Isis The Scientist. Read more here: An Open Letter To Scientific American Mind And Why You’ve Lost A Reader #BoycottSciAm from someone who followed her situation.)
Misrepresentation of women of color, specifically black women in STEM fields and communities, leads to this sort of disgusting behavior within scientific communities. But let’s keep ignoring the problem of racist, sexists attitudes in these communities so we can march onward with “rationale and logic” right? This is such bullshit. No one should have to go through this for doing what they love and expecting respect.