Feminist wrath might have gotten too far in the case of Sir Tim Hunt, as he was forced to resign from his scientific endeavors, due to his sexist comments.
This entire scandal started when Nobel prize laureate Sir Tim Hunt decided to take a far too personal approach on his speech at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Korea.
“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.”, said Tim Hunt, and thus ended his brilliant career.
Despite the fact that he has later explained that his comments were actually meant in a “totally jocular, ironic way”, his attempt at making things right were futile, as the media whiplash that came after him was of epic proportions.
A hashtag campaign called “#distractinglysexy” filled the internet with pictures of female scientists in their various protective costumes, followed by the ironic campaign title.
Sir Tim Hunt became the object of feminist wrath and overnight, he became some kind of enemy of women everywhere. As a result of all the hate publicity that was aimed at Sir Tim Hunt, he was forced to resign from his honorary professorship post at University College London and then from the European Research Council (ERC) and the Royal Society as well, a few days later.
The most disappointing aspect of this fact for the scientist was that the academic institutions he had collaborated with so well beforehand simply dismissed him as soon as this scandal broke out, no questions asked. He says that none of these institutions asked him about his view on things.
Furthermore, Sir Tim Hunt had numerous future prospects in working towards making more and more young people interested in science and his public image was extremely important for this endeavor. Therefore, all of his plans must be put to an abrupt halt, due to these unfortunate events.
Nobody can claim that his comments were not out of place and extremely inappropriate, especially given the circumstances of the speech. But ending the career of a Nobel winning biologist over of some inappropriate remarks seems like too big of a punishment and quite frankly, a loss to society.
Moreover, Sir Tim Hunt’s wife, who is also an eminent scientist, tried to bring some clarity to the matter. She said that while her husband’s comments were “unbelievably stupid”, they actually were not meant in a sexist way, precisely because he is not a sexist. She said that anybody who knows him can understand how he actually tried to make a joke.
She said that the idea of singe-sex laboratories is more in line with the type of education he has received in sex-segregated facilities, rather than some sexist view of the world and especially the scientific community. She said that she is actually a feminist herself and that she could not have put up with a sexist husband.
Other scientists who wave worked with Sir Tim Hunt have also intervened on his behalf, because they never witnessed him treating women unfairly in the workplace. He actually encouraged young scientists, both men and women, to persevere in their work.
While a course of action involving disciplinary action in Sir Tim Hunt’s case was obviously inevitable and ultimately absolutely just, losing the contribution of a scientist of of his stature over an out of place bad joke seems wasteful.
The worst aspect is that there was truth to his comments, despite the fact that feminists are not willing to own up to that. Falling in love with a work colleague is a situation that people are faced with regardless of their workplace, and truth be told, it can become a distraction.
And furthermore, he actually did not mention that any women in the lab were sexy or not. He mentioned falling in love, which is possible, especially among scientists, even it the usual wardrobe involving unflattering protective attire.
Ultimately, this entire situation has been blown out of proportion by the feminist wrath and turned into an actual vendetta that has ended up costing the world a Nobel prize winning scientist.
Image Source: independent.co.uk