The Depressingly Sexist 'Fan Mail' Sent to a Female Science Reporter


Late last week, Emily Graslie of Brain Scoop posted a new video in which she explains exactly why it’s so difficult to be a woman in a STEM field: While she gets a lot of support and positive feedback, many “fans” simply want to discuss her appearance and how fuckable she is.

As Robert Krulwich at NPR reports, Emily works for the Field Museum of Chicago, and has made videos about gemstones, wolf-skinning, moths vs. butterflies and mammal diversification. She’s clever and engaging. Yet some men see no problem with treating her as an object. The critiques are not of her brains or accomplishments. They’re of her body and looks, neither of which are relevant to her work.

Some of the comments she’s received:

I will sponsor your whole journey just to stare at you
She just needs some sexier glasses
I can’t stop looking at her nose
Even though the clothes you’re wearing kind of disguise it, you look like you might be pretty hot under them
She is really cute — but as if she made herself unattractive on purpose

Creepy, disgusting, objectifying, vile.

Emily isn’t mad, exactly, just exasperated. And her response is awesome (emphasis mine):

I’ve heard from male colleagues and they say that while they certainly don’t support sexism and they think it’s awful, they feel as though they have nothing to contribute to the conversation.
But it starts with an acknowledgement from both men and women that these are serious issues that need to be discussed. We can’t idly sit by and tolerate internet bullying in any form. Because that’s what this is. This is internet bullying. Help us make it widely known that this kind of apathetic attitude is detrimental and unacceptable. We need to make sure we’re making it possible for people of all genders to feel acknowledged for their contributions and not feel held back by something as arbitrary as their genetics or appearance.


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