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Science Reporter Emily Graslie Reads Her Mail — And It's Not So Nice

Saturday, November 30, 2013 - 07:32 AM

I've said it before, so I'll say it again: Emily Graslie's "The Brain Scoop" is one of the warmest, slyest video blogs on the web. She's where I go to find out what museum scientists are up to — and right now she's at the Field Museum in Chicago, where she wanders from department to department, exploring, delighting, asking questions that you and I would ask if someone gave us a free pass to gawk our way through one of the great natural history museums in the world. So I was more than a little surprised to catch her recent post, a meditation on the mail she gets.

Emily Graslie--Brain Scoop


It turns out her mail is, well, troubling.

Many of the folks who write her, write not about the science, but about her body, her looks, her clothes, and do so without any apparent embarrassment. She's a science reporter who happens to be a young woman, and her woman-ness is the thing they focus on. The science, to her chagrin, often takes second place.

In her new video, Emily (with help from director and video editor Michael Aranda) gives us samples from her mailbox, She's not mad, not exactly. Instead, she just explains why these matter-of-fact little letter bombs make it harder for her to work, and how they hurt — every single day. And, being Emily, she explains it very well.



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Comments [2]

Meghan from Brooklyn

I find it interesting that the description of the sexual harassment she suffers from can't be addressed directly in the title or description. It's not just "not nice," it's rude, it's violating, and it circumscribes the way this woman leads her daily life. "Not nice" is belittling. It's called sexual harassment and it's criminal.

I also find it interesting that it's only to Emily's "chagrin" that science takes second place (isn't it to Radiolab's chagrin as well?).

I find it interesting that her sidekick is given full credit when rarely are women who are sidekicks in productions given such status. Couldn't his name be in the footnotes, as would be more appropriate? He's not the protagonist. I'm sure he's awesome, but the mega parens with his name and titles overwhelms her name and by association, her authority, as if she couldn't do this video without a man in the picture. Which, sure, he's directing, but this is an article about HER. Point: I take issue with the ironically patronizing aspects of the description.

I furthermore find it interesting that her response has to be couched. She can't be mad, even though she states she's "frustrated" and practically shouts the whole video. She is hurt but she is "not mad--not exactly." Is Radiolab afraid of women's emotions? What's wrong with anger? She's being sexually harassed by strange men on a daily basis. She has every right to be mad and for institutions like yours to stand behind her, also mad. I question the motivation behind the choice to saying she's not mad. I'm pretty sure she's pissed, but want to know from Emily directly.

And, I appreciate this post. I would like to see more Radiolab supporting women as peers and calling sexual harassment for what it is. It isn't a cute, unserious thing men do, hinting about her "woman-ness" -- it is men acting in micro-agressive, patronizing, macho, condescending, gaslighting, and full on aggressive ways. It's not her, it's them. This isn't an Emily problem, this is a MALE DOMINANCE, CONTROL, POWER, AND SUPERIORITY problem. IMO emphasizing that would have been both appropriate and accurate. It's science after all: aren't we in this for truth and accuracy? Dancing around the harassment, cutely, undercuts the urgent seriousness of the situation. Harassment is ruining women's lives. This is not a moment to chicken out and call it "not nice." It's a moment to call it WRONG.

I am critical of your inconsistencies as I think is fair, I appreciate this first attempt, and encourage Radiolab to appropriately label and condemn entrenched patriarchal attitudes/beliefs/behaviors when they appear. If you're not pro racism, you should be ok with doing this.

And Emily - sexism SUCKS! Internet sexual harassment SUCKS! I say be pissed. I'm pissed on your behalf. I support you 400%. Keep calling it out. We need a chorus of intelligent women and men to make changes on this front. Our global future as humans depends on it.

Jul. 19 2014 07:10 AM
Craig Gilborn from Mt. Tabor, Vt.

Brenna F. and my daughter were classmates at the K-12 school in Indian Lake, N.Y.

Dec. 19 2013 07:12 AM

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