Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Tim Hunt recently resigned from his position as Honorary Professor at University College London after making some tone-deaf and sexist comments about female scientists. During a lecture at the 2015 World Conference of Science Journalists, Hunt said:
Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them they cry.
The remarks, he said in a BBC Radio interview, were intended to be “light-hearted” and “ironic.” Nonetheless, he bizarrely continued to stand by what he said, stating that he “did mean the part about having trouble with girls,” since he had, in the past, fallen in love with people in the lab and had other people fall in love with him. In defense of his remark about women weeping after being criticized he added, “It’s terribly important that you can criticize people’s ideas without criticizing them and if they burst into tears, it means that you tend to hold back from getting at the absolute truth.” Of course, this doesn’t actually make his comments any more meaningful, since he offered no evidence — anecdotal or otherwise — that women are more prone to bursting into tears due to criticism, just that such behavior ought to be frowned upon.
This seems to be a clear-cut case of a well-respected, intelligent man saying something deeply stupid and unprofessional, and then offering to face the consequences for it. For perpetually aggrieved Men’s Rights Activists and other reactionaries, it’s symbolic of how feminists and like-minded “Social Justice Warriors” are ruining science. Rachel Edwards offers a defense of Hunt at A Voice for Men (emphasis mine):
Yesterday feminists across the first world screamed in outrage over an old man having an unpopular opinion. Why? Because this man happened to be a nobel prize winner in science: Tim Hunt.
Now I am going to present an equally unpopular opinion: I really could not care less if there are sexist men in science. There I said it. Why you may ask? Because science isn’t all about gender. Science is about merit and finding universal truths. If we were to toss out every person in the scientific field with unpopular opinions that are unrelated to their work, we’d have no one left.
. . .
People today believe that great people in history were flawless. They were never racist, sexist, discriminatory, or had weird beliefs. Yeah do a little research sometime. Because the more you dig, the more you find that the men and women we view idealistically were far from perfect.
Often these people are like storms in a bottle. That’s what makes them different. That’s what makes them able to think outside the box. The more rules and restrictions you place on them, the harder it becomes for these people to exist and do the things they do,
But society seems to only want science if it comes from perfect unoffensive boring people who never shake things up. They want people who are so afraid to step out of line that they would rather stay quiet and keep their job, than speak up and go against the establishment.
What did Tim Hunt really say that was offensive? That romantic entanglements are a distraction in science? That some women in science can’t take criticism? Neither of those things are incorrect. Did he suggest segregation? No! Did he say women were entirely incompetent? No!
Of course, Tim Hunt didn’t actually limit his comments to the dangers of romantic entanglements or “some women” who “can’t take criticism.” He made sweeping generalizations about women who work alongside men in labs and painted an unfair picture of them as inept and overly emotional. He characterized this as the “trouble with girls.” Then he attempted to pass it all off as a joke before defending it to the media.
Feminists project their feelings and paranoid delusions about men onto every man that steps out of line. Hell he doesn’t even have to step out of line. If he even grazes the line, they blow up and ask that we place that man’s head on a pike. They will metaphorically burn him at the stake.
But what is the feminist excuse for this? They claim that there is a systematic bias against women. Yet how many men in science stood behind women in the decision to take down Tim Hunt? How many men white knighted on twitter, and called for his resignation?
Tim Hunt voluntarily resigning from an honorary position after making ill-informed remarks about women is now a metaphorical burning at the stake. Moreover, systematic bias against women in a particular field or a particular industry can exist even if men defend women on social media. The two phenomena may, in fact, exist at the same time. Though even if Edwards were to recognize some form of systemic bias against women in STEM fields, she proposes the idea that feminist women are the ones responsible for it:
Inter-sectional feminists entering STEM ruin STEM for other women. They do it by being overly sensitive easily offended emotional basketcases. So then when other women come into the same space who aren’t this way, their male colleagues will keep their distance, and pass those women up for job opportunities. Not because they are women, but because they are afraid of confrontation and the stakes are higher in those higher ranking positions.
. . .
This is what entitlement does to a space. Feminism turns people against one another, and leads women to believe the worst of their male colleagues. If they fail to get their work done, if they create a hostile work environment, if they do nothing worth mentioning, they will suggest that the reason that they are not moving up, is because of discrimination.
But that is really what this is all about. It is about mediocre women who believe that they are better at what they do than they actually are, screaming that the reason they can’t get ahead is patriarchial [sic] oppression. It’s not just science, it’s every field. Even fields that women are less suited for on average. Fields that require extreme upper body strength,
. . .
So thanks feminism for placing the most sensible and accomplished women in the worst position possible. Thank you for taking away freedoms and calling it progressive. Thank you for making women in STEM unemployable walking lawsuits and being entirely incapable of understanding how that happened.
Thus, feminist women have it coming when they’re not hired or promoted. They brought it upon themselves and their fellow women for being so “sensitive” and “easily offended” and speaking out against workplace discrimination. They’re the reason why men want to keep women out of STEM fields. The men who deliberately pass over women for jobs are blameless, and their biases justified, because women just won’t keep quiet. It’s an excellent way to absolve men of their sexism and shift the blame onto women who should neither be discriminated against nor be forced to tolerate sexism in the workplace.
Elsewhere, at the men’s rights subreddit, MRAs deemed the affair to be a “hysterical witch hunt” by “feminist bullies”:
The article does not indicate that he actually did anything objectionable, but merely held an opinion. I can understand if he is forced to resign if he sexually harassed someone, or discriminated against women in hiring, but are men forced out of jobs just for their thoughts? Does this happen to women? If a woman had the thought that it would be a good idea if all female scientists worked in female-only labs, would she lose her job? -UloveMeJustSayIt
He basically said women handle criticism poorly. The reaction is a case in point. -Ultramegasaurus
So feminist are anti science. Meh.
In other news, the sun rose today. Details at 11:00. -Corn-Tortilla
They the warriors of social purity are congratulating themselves for calling out this “Bad Thinker” no longer will his bad thoughts infect discoveries of protein molecules and their influence on cell replications a process intrinsically linked to cancer. Now without Hunts bad thinking maybe some progress can be made, maybe some good thinking Gender studies experts can move into the lab and make good think discoveries.. -Frittern
Keep fighting for human rights, folks.