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Thursday, February 17, 2005

Open mouth, insert dick, Larry

posted by bitchphd
I am sorry, but from now on I am always going to put the word "dick" in Larry Summers' name. And it's a good goddamn thing I'm not at Harvard, because Wellbutrin girl would want to walk into his goddamn office and rip out his ribcage and wear it as a hat. The assholes who are saying that Nancy Hopkins's walking out of his speech was immature or unprofessional or whatever-the-fuck deserve to be seriously bitch-slapped (I'll do the honors): the miracle is that she didn't shoot him.

Let me explain. You do not make racist and sexist remarks in a professional forum and then back up and say, "hey, free inquiry, exchange of ideas, blah fucking blah." You do not insult people and then play innocent dumb guy. You do not stand up, white man in charge of major cultural institution, and demonstrate your ignorance and prejudice and then be shocked when people call you on it. You do not pretend that remarks that justify racism and sexism are value-neutral. You do not play the "reverse racism" card or the "those feminazis want to suppress free discussion" card when you are in the middle of demonstrating that you, yourself, are a bigot. And you do not defend bigots by attacking people who refuse to listen to bigotry pretending to be substantive discussion.

Here is the transcript. The passages to which I am referring above are below. My emphasis.

It is after all not the case that the role of women in science is the only example of a group that is significantly underrepresented in an important activity and whose underrepresentation contributes to a shortage of role models for others who are considering being in that group. To take a set of diverse examples, the data will, I am confident, reveal that Catholics are substantially underrepresented in investment banking, which is an enormously high-paying profession in our society; that white men are very substantially underrepresented in the National Basketball Association; and that Jews are very substantially underrepresented in farming and in agriculture.

These are not neutral remarks. Allow me to strip this crap of the semi-respectable academic phrasing. Summers is saying, "investment bankers are WASPs, Negroes play basketball, and Jews don't farm." The historic and social reasons why this is the case are very well-established: Protestants were socially dominant in America for many years, so "old money" tended to be Protestant, not Catholic; Christians in Europe didn't want to be "usurers," so they did not lend money--though they needed to borrow it, and a lot of Jews who immigrated to America from Europe (where a great many Jews did, in fact, farm) were, by definition, mobile and tended to congregate in cities, where--like many immigrants--they tended to live near one another in part for protection; Black children are, to this day, encouraged to go into sports and music rather than, say, medicine or banking; not too long ago, Blacks were actually denied higher education except at a very few Black colleges. Ask any parent of a Black child how many times their kid has been asked if they like Basketball.

Ok, back to Summers. Here is what he said about women in science.

There are three broad hypotheses about the sources of the very substantial disparities that this conference's papers document and have been documented before with respect to the presence of women in high-end scientific professions. One is what I would call the--I'll explain each of these in a few moments and comment on how important I think they are--the first is what I call the high-powered job hypothesis. The second is what I would call different availability of aptitude at the high end, and the third is what I would call different socialization and patterns of discrimination in a search. And in my own view, their importance probably ranks in exactly the order that I just described.

So. He is not, as some have claimed, merely listing three possibilities and encouraging us to discuss whether or not they might be contributing factors. He is explicitly saying that women are not in science because they choose not to be (the "Mommies don't want high-powered careers" argument); because they are genetically inferior ("at the high end"; this is the "oh sure, some women are smart, but the best women aren't as smart as the best men" argument); and that, oh yeah, maybe socialization and discrimination happen too, but really that's far less important than the fact that women really don't want these jobs, and if they do, they're just not good enough.

1. Mommies do not have children by budding or splitting. Daddies have kids too. Daddies should spend time with their kids. Mommies being more aggressive on issues of family time is not a socially-neutral fact. It has everything to do with socialization, and with men like Summers ignoring their own parental responsibilities because they can get away with it, knowing that women will pick up the slack.

2. Because of sexism and racism, people from oppressed groups have to be much better than people in the dominant group just to get noticed. Again, the simple fact that women with kids tend to drop out of tenured jobs, while most tenured women--especially at Research I institutions--do not have kids, shows this. Men at RI institutions have children. Every "exceptional" woman is "exceptional," in part, because she is so far superior to her male colleagues.

3. The "choice" and "genetics" argument are themselves completely socially conditioned. Moreover, ask women who have served on hiring committees with men whether or not discrimination, subtle or unsubtle, occurs in searches. I've heard horror stories. Ask whether women get asked, when they go on the market, if their husbands are "willing to move," get told how "lucky" they are if the answer is yes, get asked "what about the kids"--and ask if men get asked the same things, as often. Ask whether search committees hypothesize about women's personal circumstances--children, partners--when they discuss candidate's qualifications. Open your goddamn ears, Larry, you motherfucker.

Via Kevin Drum. Majikthise also has something to say about this.

Update: Whoa!! When you get linked by Atrios, Yglesias, and Crooked Timber all in the same day the sitemeter goes nucking futs. Howdy and welcome all y'all Atrios/Yglesias/CT readers. If you're interested, here are some of my better (imho) posts....

On Summers:
First post
Second post
On feminism:
Why Motherhood is not a "Choice"
Professor Mama
Mrs. Professor
Shocking revelations:
Gender, Rhetoric, and Sex Chatting
Sluttier than you Imagine
Parenting, work, how to read this blog, and there really is a point behind the personal shit if you look:

Blogwhoring at its best. Enjoy! And please note that I have an assload of grading this weekend, so play nice in the comments--I don't wanna have to come in there!
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