Want to Know What Privilege Looks Like? The ‘Tell Someone “No”, Get Called a Whore’ Edition

A while ago, I got an email from a science aggregator offering me a chance to crosspost for…free. To paraphrase the wisdom of the philosopher Tone Loc, I get paid to do the blog thing (actually, that’s not the case anymore. I pay $30/year to keep ads off the site. But I yoostabee paid!). Anyway, after looking at the aggregation site, I decided not to join, in part due to copyright issues, so I ignored the email.

Unlike the Mad Biologist, science blogger DNLee listened to those who taught her manners and attempted to have a civil correspondence with said aggregator. You might guess it didn’t go well.

Since I occasionally like to use my superpowers for good (and for free, no less), I’m going to turn the blog over to DNLee, and then have some comments at the end. Onwards comrades….

———————————————————————————–

wachemshe hao hao kwangu mtapoa

I got this wrap cloth from Tanzania. It’s a khanga. It was the first khanga I purchased while I was in Africa for my nearly 3 month stay for field research last year. Everyone giggled when they saw me wear it and then gave a nod to suggest, “Well, okay”. I later learned that it translates to “Give trouble to others, but not me”. I laughed, thinking how appropriate it was. I was never a trouble-starter as a kid and I’m no fan of drama, but I always took this 21st century ghetto proverb most seriously:

Don’t start none. Won’t be none.

For those not familiar with inner city anthropology – it is simply a variation of the Golden Rule. Be nice and respectful to me and I will do the same. Everyone doesn’t live by the Golden Rule it seems. (Click to embiggen.)

The Blog editor of Biology-Online dot org asked me if I would like to blog for them. I asked the conditions. He explained. I said no. He then called me out of my name.

My initial reaction was not civil, I can assure you. I’m far from rah-rah, but the inner South Memphis in me was spoiling for a fight after this unprovoked insult. I felt like Hollywood Cole, pulling my A-line T-shirt off over my head, walking wide leg from corner to corner yelling, “Aww hell nawl!” In my gut I felt so passionately:”Ofek, don’t let me catch you on these streets, homie!”

This is my official response:

It wasn’t just that he called me a whore – he juxtaposed it against my professional being: Are you urban scientist or an urban whore? Completely dismissing me as a scientist, a science communicator (whom he sought for my particular expertise), and someone who could offer something meaningful to his brand.What? Now, I’m so immoral and wrong to inquire about compensation? Plus, it was obvious me that I was supposed to be honored by the request..

After all, Dr. Important Person does it for free so what’s my problem? Listen, I ain’t him and he ain’t me. Folks have reasons – finances, time, energy, aligned missions, whatever – for doing or not doing things. Seriously, all anger aside…this rationalization of working for free and you’ll get exposure is wrong-headed. This is work. I am a professional. Professionals get paid. End of story. Even if I decide to do it pro bono (because I support your mission or I know you, whatevs) – it is still worth something. I’m simply choosing to waive that fee. But the fact is I told ol’ boy No; and he got all up in his feelings. So, go sit on a soft internet cushion, Ofek, ’cause you are obviously all butt-hurt over my rejection. And take heed of the advice on my khanga.

You don’t want none of this

Thanks to everyone who helped me focus my righteous anger on these less-celebrated equines. I appreciate your support, words of encouragement, and offers to ride down on his *$$.

———————————————————————————–

Mad Biologist here. If you want to know what the term ‘privilege’ means, read no further than that email exchange. Had I bothered to respond as DNLee did–expecting that if someone else makes money from my writing, that I should be compensated too (CURSE YE, WHORE OF BABYLON!)–I doubt I would have been called an urban whore.

Another thing that bothers me is the idea that scientists are supposed to give everything away. We already are expected to devalue our labor–name one scientist who works to rule based on the hours specified in a grant–we are the worst federal contractors EVAH! (though I’m sure Halliburton works off the clock too. STOP LAUGHING! STOP LAUGHING NOW!). If someone is making money off your writing, you should too.

Note to aggregators: insulting the talent is not a good business model.

Update: Scientific American apparently censored DNLee about this–the aggregator has ties with Scientific American. I feel like having a Pepsi.

This entry was posted in Basic Human Decency, Bloggity Blog, Feminism, I Am Aware of All Internet Traditions, Internet. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Want to Know What Privilege Looks Like? The ‘Tell Someone “No”, Get Called a Whore’ Edition

  1. Don says:

    Oh that was not a brilliant move on SciAm’s part. Very, very not brilliant.

  2. albanaeon says:

    Wow. On behalf of decent people, sorry DNLee. That wasn’t right, in any way shape or form.

  3. Rob says:

    The behavior of both Biology-Online and SciAm is appalling.

  4. Newcastle says:

    As the day has ticked on it appears that not only did SciAm really step in it but they might have actually have drowned in it…

  5. rogerthegeek says:

    The one person no one has heard from is the dude who caused this mess. SciAm really screwed up by deleting the blog post, but the original perpetrator seems to have disappeared. Is this person completely anonymous? No matter, this is a serious stain on the reputation of an ancient institution.

  6. Wonders if you were a man who had said “no” what his response would have been.

  7. I finally understand what the @sciam non-apology I saw on Hacker News was about.

  8. Pingback: Ada Lovelace Day: let’s talk about Henrietta Lacks | Bad News Biology

  9. Pingback: Adam Bly Shot a Man in Reno Just to Watch Him Die: Some Observations on the Science Bloggysphere | Mike the Mad Biologist

  10. realthog says:

    Somehow this had passed me by. The people at Biology Online and Scientific American should be ashamed of their behavior over this. How appalling. Sympathies to DNLee — that’s the kind of unsolicited offensiveness no one should have to receive.

    And, Mike, I agree with you about ScienceBlogs. I was sad when it fell apart, with far too many people going all Indignant Prima Donna over something that was in fact quickly sorted out.

Comments are closed.