Wednesday 1 July 2020

Manners maketh Mask

My old boss tweets as a scientist and human rights activist.  She has decided to put a poster on the door into her lab to welcome people when Lab Science re-opens for business in July.  I should note that she was extraordinarily ahead of the curve in March. Almost all of her senior colleagues convinced themselves that the war would be over by Christmas Easter and so shuttered their labs and tasked all their Effectives on <yawwwwn> literature reviews. The Gaffer otoh encouraged her people to up-skill themselves on multivariate statistics, Big Data analysis, bioinformatics and molecular evolution. I've been advising a little on an extraordinary study looking at the causes of infertility from a 60 million year perspective. It's a wonderful example of turning Coronarama from a threat into an opportunity: the "kids" would never have mastered those skills and developed a broader evolutionary perspective on their research niche if they'd been normally busy-busy flipping the eppendorfs and running gels in the lab. But I was a little weirded out by the background to the YOU ARE WELCOME HERE message . . .
  • I R confuse! Why is the serenity/ harmony stripe crossed out with white? And what's going on in the bottom left corner? Is that a + ?  Is it a white square to include/welcome The Patriarchy?
    • Well duh! I sent the picture and my questions to Dau.I my BLT Liaison Officer BLO. And she replied It's  the periodic table, stupid . . . didn't you read the original e-mail?? I'd been thinking it was all about Me-the-Patriarch and it's just colours roughly superimposed on the iconic "science" table [multibloboprevs]
  • The trouble with particularising whom you include is that someone will inevitably feel left out.
    • It's unthinkable that Trans-folk would have been singled out for inclusion 10 years ago. And women-in-science were, to the nearest whole percent, invisible even 60 years ago. It might therefore be worth thinking forward about our current invisible certainties to image what will look culpably careless for 20 years hindsight in 2040.
  • But the gesture poster is better than no statement. I've been sporting a rainbow wrist-band 24/7 since Sept 2018 hoping to offset some of the burden of my obvious Partiarchy for my marginalised students. 
    • It's good if everyone, including me and you, explicitly specifies {their | her | his} pronouns so that some people, for whom it's important, don't feel like a sore thumb; and continually have to explain who they really are.
  • And I've been an early [March] adopter of being masked out shopping because I don't care about looking like a dork/bandito and it might tip the balance of acceptability for whom it's important.
    • Talking to Dau.II at the end of last week, she confirmed that she had ordered a couple  masks but hadn't yet used one shopping . . . partly because she would look silly but also partly because in these heightened emotive times she might attract adverse comment (or assault??) from a particularly strident anti-masker. Because some people just love to tell other folk how they should behave in the process; forgetting that good manners is about making other people feel comfortable.
Hope helps, El Silverbacko
PS Check out Max Siedentopf for wonderful ironic masks. Much Maskilarity in Nairobi.

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