Science and Sexism

First, here is an article originally posted on FB by John Zaffis. He writes, “Thank you for mentioning me in this article. Yes this field is mysterious and thats what keeps me going. I hope someday we will have the answers and its before I become a ghost!”

I, personally, liken the Examiner website to the old “Weekly World News” tabloid because they’ll print just about anything by anyone but they may have a point here about the lack of science. We’ll get to that in a second.

Now, here are a handful of comments regarding the new, all-female Ghostbusters movie from a blogger that adamantly refused to even give it a review, as well as a snippet from an interview with the writer of the movie:

I don’t have a problem with the gender of the characters. I have a problem that they’re MAKING it a problem. It’s classic Nixon-style politics — amplify the dissenters to paint yourself as the crusader. Yes, stupid people are saying stupid things about the cast. The producers are basking in it.

So, I guess it’s about women being put in action hero roles after so many decades of patriarchy. I can’t think of a better way to change that than. . . model their characters after men from the 1980s? Wait, what?

How about women forging their own paths? What offends me about this film isn’t that there’s women in it. Or even that the women are the protagonists. It’s that it’s going backwards 30 years in time and calling itself progressive. There’s a HUGE backlog of ORIGINAL female characters waiting for their spotlights but they go with this. Where’s my Metroid movie FFS??

I do take a problem with the sex of the characters. You don’t just take a old classic movie and change the sex of all the characters. Why not make you own movies with all females instead? Do they not have confidence that it will work, they have to take a preexisting popular movie and change it?

Don’t you think minorities would want to be better represented in movies (and other things)? Don’t you think some women would be tired of seeing only powerful males while females are restricted to weak and submissive roles? Don’t you think different ethnicities would be sick of never seeing people like themselves in movies (making them feel more excluded and disrespected) or portrayed only in negative roles? Seems obvious that studios should try to include more minorities.

That said… I don’t think a movie like this is the way to do it. I agree that it looks quite bad.

Wouldn’t it be a better idea to write fully-fledged, intriguing characters who happen to be a minority instead of forcing a minority in there or changing a character’s gender/color/ethnicity for the sole purpose of appeasing those minority audiences? Whatever happened to integrity in storytelling? It seems we’re all to accepting of screwing it up in the name of affirmative action and political correctness.


The first Ghostbusters had been pretty poorly received at the time, only later acquiring the cult status which made it a sort of sacred text for geeks who genuinely believed that any sequel should be made by exactly the same people and star precisely the same cast. (This is what happened with the forgettable Ghostbusters II, released in 1989).

When one online commenter took to Twitter to say they wanted her to burn to death in a house fire, Dippold says with masterly understatement that she was “a little surprised.”

“There were nasty comments and before there was even a movie,” she says now. “At that time, there was literally no movie written, you know? There’s nothing for you to watch, nothing is written and you’re already saying it’s the worst movie in the world!”

And yet the fury kept mounting. When it was revealed by the director Paul Feig that the new Ghostbusters would be all-female, it was instantly condemned as “gimmicky”, “patronising” and – even worse – in danger of being “ruined by feminazis”.

Twitter was abuzz with disgust: “Women ruin everything,” said one user, in all apparent seriousness. Another insisted that: “feminists just f_____ my childhood”.

Ghostbusters comments
Just a sample of the online hate aimed at the new Ghostbusters

There was even a campaign to try and ensure there were more “dislikes” than “likes” for the video on YouTube. And this was still three months before the film’s premiere in July.

“I wish I’d grown up watching movies about female camaraderie – having good friends, laughing with your buddies and then from that, having a healthy relationship, having the romance. So I’ve been trying to build from there because if a kid can grow up and see a group of really fun female Ghostbusters and think ‘Maybe I want to be a scientist’ that would make me happy.”

How do these things link up? Easy. Go to the search engine of your choice, and put in “Women and Science” and what comes up?

“Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science? – The New York Times”

“Why It’s Crucial to Get More Women Into Science- National Geographic”

“7 Things Keeping Women Out Of Science – Business Insider”

“Why Are We Still Worried about Women in Science? | AAUP”

“Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics”

So we have a shortage of brilliant, strong women in jobs that need them like math and science, and a movie about- guess what- strong, brilliant women in science… and it’s getting hate mail. Art not imitating life, right?

I get the flawed the premise, believe me. A semi-coexistent world where the original never happened but somehow the original cast still shows up. And yes I believe it will not be the funniest movie of all time, but I’ve seen plenty of great movies that were considered box-office flops. I believe that Melissa McCarthy is hilarious, and I’m somewhat fond of Kristen Wiig. I have no doubt the strong personality of Leslie  Jones is going to OWN her role. But heres the bottom line: there is something more at stake here than ticket sales.

Young girls have few, if any, female role models as scientists or paranormal investigators. Amy Bruni is coming back but who else do we have? If you’re not psychic, you can’t relate to Amy Allen. Samantha Hawes is there, but lets face it, her dad is a co-producer, of course she can have a job investigating ghosts. There’s a female investigator on Nick Groff’s show – Elizabeth Saint is her name, but that’s if you have extra special cable and her credits are for bit acting parts, not investigations.

So we have an industry sagging (STEM- science, technology, math) with lack of female input, the same industry that seems to be lacking to suport a field that desparately needs the scientific help, the same field that is mostly composed of females as investigators but not shown on tv and when in movies are hated, and together THERE IS NO CORRELATION.

THERE SHOULD BE. We need women scientists, we need women investigators to be shown more prominently, and we need the scientists to help out the paranormal field. You want science? Be the science. Bring us the science. Use the science.

*steps down from soapbox*

About Jane Arrow

Aspiring author
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