in other news HOW CAN IT POSSIBLY TAKE ME THIS LONG TO DO A CALCULUS PROBLEM I’VE DONE EVERY OTHER ONE IN FIVE SECONDS: the compelling story of my life.
cut for ranty gender thoughts
im not kidding this is pretty long and ranty you don’t have to read
Men never fail to impress me with how fucking shameless they are.
I usually bring my laptop to work so I can do some 3D modelling on my downtime. Today I was working on a model I’ve been ironing out for the last few days. It’s a bust of an East Asian style dragon, which I started doing specifically so I could practice sculpting flowing, curvy shapes on Zbrush. My coworker - the unpleasant, boundary-ignoring, teen-girl-ogling one - has been watching me model and often giving praise. He dabbles at 3D modelling himself, but hasn’t been studying for as long as I have and doesn’t have the same theorical art background. Which means I’m considerably better than him.
Today the dude gets to work and first thing he does is pulling a drawing pad out of his backpack and saying “I have an idea, and I’ll make you accept it even if I have to threaten to give you cyanide”.
Yes, that was an excelent start. Death threats with a big smile. Classy.
So he starts rambling about how we should make a 3D scene together, and his idea of a scene is a shack with a big burly viking dude holding an axe (which I would have to model, since he “doesn’t do organic modelling”), some furniture and… my dragon head stuffed and mounted on a wall. He would do the background, he says.
He also points that I would have to do texturing and render, since he’s not good at those parts either. And he continues rambling, with a huge fucking smile on his face, about how this would be “really good for our portfolios” and would “give us both a lot of visibility”.
The funny thing is that the part that offended me first is that he wanted to take my dragon and mount it on a wall. I made a bust because the purpose of this specific model is practice on the shapes of the whiskers and mane of the dragon. Doing the body would not give me the kind of practice I want. But all this man saw was a decapitated head of a beautiful beast he could mount on a wall and display as his.
And isn’t it a good metaphor of the whole situation? A man sees a skilled woman, a woman who’s way more skilled than he is, and instead of wanting to learn from her, he wants to seize her and mount her on a wall. In this case, he wanted to use the knowledge and craftsmanship that I acquired over almost a decade of study and make me labor for his benefit - to mount me on his portfolio wall, or his facebook wall, for everyone to see. And he tries to sweeten the deal by telling me a half-truth, that if I made a well rendered scene, people would appreciate it. It would give me “visibility”.
The full truth is that yes, it would. But I don’t need him to do that. He doesn’t have anything to offer me in return for my work, he doesn’t have anything to give me that I can’t get myself. He’s not offering me money, knowledge or valuable networking. He just wants to take something he knows he doesn’t have, because he likes it and he feels entitled to have it. Take my work and reframe it on a typical male dominance context. The man kills the dragon and mounts it on a wall. And this man, with a smile on his face, threatened to poison me if I didn’t mount myself on his wall.
And of course, I won’t do it. My dragon is alive and free, and doesn’t belong in anyone’s wall, specially on those of parasitic, lazy males. And of course, he sulked when I said “no”, he said I was boring, I was selfish, I wasn’t cool, I was missing an opportunity, I was making him sad. He said he would start modelling the shack anyway, hoping that I’ll change my mind once I see it done. He tried to appeal for some sense of friendship we don’t even have, tried to make me feel like somehow I owe him that, that not doing what he wants me to do would mean I’m a bad person somehow.
I think it’s really interesting how a simple situation like this shows so much of how male entitlement works, and how being a feminist gave me the insight and the tools to dissect the instance and see exactly what this dude was going for.
And, most important of all, it gave me power to say “no” and not feel minimally bad about it.
This is a really good story for all my young female followers to read. I’ve seen my friends say “yes” in this situation too many times to count, and I want, I NEED my followers to know, that if you say “yes” to this kind of thing, it doesn’t end with respect, it doesn’t end with him later decide to pay for something he manipulated out of you for free. It ends with more and more demands. The more you say “yes”, the more they try to squeeze from you.
If any of you ever need to say “no” and you’re scared, remember that you’re not alone. I got your back.
We’ve started placing non-monetary bets on the likelihood that I’m asked about my personal life during publicity interviews.
So far I’ve been correct 100% of the time.
I can’t completely understand the fascination with my dating life; maybe I just really do a stellar job of keeping it ambiguous and therefore compellingly mysterious, such that it warrants questioning during professional interviews. But more often there’s this awe-like oscillation between “It must be really hard for you to date because your job is so unique and you do gross things sometime” and “You must get dates all of the time.”
Like today. I mention how I find standing in the dermestid colony room is comforting; it’s an area I wander to when I need to clear my head. It’s quiet, save for the gentle crackling of the busy beetles, hungrily going about their lives while they eat and breed and die amongst eviscerated fauna. Pretty soothing. Believe me, there is no quieter place in the Museum. But the minute I being this up the response is “oh giiiirrrrlll we’ve got to get you a date.”
I get that I’m this quirky paradox of a woman: how is it possible I’m pretty, articulate, and also smart? and kinda weird? Gosh the solution to those problems must mean I only got this way because I didn’t have a man in my life to keep me boring and level-headed. Ignore the fact they assume I am also straight.
It comes up again: “do you work with any hot, Indiana Jones scientists?” Hey here’s one for you: are you going to ask my male colleagues these same questions? Going to imply they need to get a date instead of publish so many compelling papers about their research? And I’ll have you know that I’m infinitely more attracted to someone’s wit and candor, and the quality of the work they publish in reputable scientific journals and the eagerness they have to explore or world than whatever physical form they ended up taking. I would marry a gorilla if it were so sophisticated.
Sometimes I feel the most sexism occurring in free fields comes in the form of awkward publicity. I’ve also been asked by reporters if I would pose for Playboy if approached - and what I would charge to accept. If you want to ask me about natural history, or museums, or social media, or science literacy - be my guest. But don’t expect a straight-forward answer if you derail the conversation to pry into my personal life.
fighting the looming sense of an endlessly unknowable future by completing an entire semester worth of online coursework in a few weeks!!! let’s see if i can do this.