The sexist fans of 'I f-cking love science'

Elise Andrews.

Elise Andrews. Photo: The Daily Dot.

Dear Science Nerds,

I know we only discovered each other late in life (in high school I thought you were kind of lame), but nowadays I feel like you are my People.

But sometimes, even your closest friends can do pretty jerky things. This is one of those times.

One of the greatest science nerds around at the moment is the creator of the Facebook page "I F*cking Love Science". Basically what the site does is find AH–MAZING scientific facts and figures and put them online. I'm one of the 4.6 million people who like her page (which she only created a year or so ago) on Facebook. 

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The things on there can make you giggle, squeal, or just say "holy hell". 

But something happened last month when its creator, Elise Andrews, mentioned she had started a Twitter account. The internet discovered she was... well, a she.

As The Guardian reported, the page went crazy with dudes (and some ladies) who chose to respond to the news of her Twitter feed by saying things like ‘‘F*ck me! This is a babe ?!!" and "holy hell, you're a HOTTIE!’’

Elise hasn’t really said much about what happened next (she didn’t respond to Daily Life’s request for an interview), but she did Tweet that she was shocked by the overwhelming number of people who saw her Twitter profile as an excuse to comment on her gender and appearance.

I have to admit here that although I hadn’t really thought about it, I think I too had just assumed that I F*cking Love Science was run by a man. 

I didn’t blame myself for that, but I felt pretty sad that our ingrained biases so strongly tell us that science/maths= male, and figured lots of people probably made the same assumption as me.

Until we can get rid of that bias, how are we ever going to improve the shockingly poor percentage of girls learning even the most basic maths and science?*

So everyone just felt a bit embarrassed and moved on, right? Well, this is the internet, so, sadly, no. Instead, people decided to be complete d1ckheads. 

Some of the gross responses were on the mild side, like this pleasant young chap who decided the chastise Elise for not appreciating all the ‘‘compliments’’ she was getting.

‘‘I mean you are an attractive woman. Doesn't make it sexist, dear,’’ he Tweeted.

But now, things are getting even nastier. A Facebook page called ‘‘I F*cking Love Elise Andrew’’ has been set up, which seems to be part tribute, part trolling and part creepy sex attack. 

So far the page has photoshopped a photo of her head onto softcore porn, taken photos from when she was a teenager and run lewd comments underneath them, tried to create memes with pictures of her that say things like ‘‘10/10. Would Bang’’, and run countless vicious, aggressive and untrue comments about her.

And despite Facebook’s willingness to take down photos of "offensive" things like women breastfeeding, it has removed some of the most offensive images but done little about the site, despite the fact Elise has said she feels it violates Facebook's harassment rules.

WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THE WORLD? Do we have to run over this basic ground again?

Women are just as capable of loving science as men. A woman does not have an obligation to be flattered when you tell her she is a ‘‘hottie’’. When you realise someone you assumed is a man because of their interests is actually a woman, you should feel a little surprised (perhaps even embarrassed) and move on ... Maybe throw in a bit of self-questioning about gender stereotypes? You don’t tell her she is hot, get angry when she doesn’t appreciate your ‘‘compliment’’. You certainly don’t create disgusting, rapey Facebook pages. 

I don't know why this has happened, but really hope we can stop it. 

Best,

Amy.

76 comments

  • She's brilliant, young and beautiful. Having had her posts pop up in my news feed for months, the first I knew, the second two surprised me a little but only to the point of even higher admiration for a moment before getting back to the awesome posts. Do the second two matter? Of course, not in the least.

    What surprised me most however is the fact that IFLS is a solo sideline. I'd always imagined a team of researchers behind the posts, not a lone young woman doing it for a hobby. Fantastic. How she manages all that output and a full time job is beyond me.

    Commenter
    Harvey K-Tel
    Date and time
    April 18, 2013, 8:05AM
    • It didn't matter, but I (and my wife) thought the site was so clever and funny it was probably by a woman.

      I think what we're seeing here is that by and large, maths/science men tend to be socially inept and stay in a sort of suspended adolescence. They are rarely successful with the ladies.

      So for this cohort to find a real, live, brilliant and attractive woman who really gets what makes their nerdy minds pop- it's too much and they sort of pee on the floor in excitement, as we have seen. Then when they get scolded they feel ashamed and perhaps rage, Caliban-like, at their reflected ugliness. And at the unattainable, wonderful creature who has pwned them all so well.

      Commenter
      Evan
      Location
      Perth
      Date and time
      April 18, 2013, 10:34AM
    • Evan, knowing a lot of real science/math/nerdy men, most of them don't have a problem with science/math/nerdy women. And many of them are far from socially inept. The ones I know are also much less likely to be in a 'suspended adolescence' than the non-nerdy men I've known.

      Commenter
      pb
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      April 18, 2013, 11:12AM
    • You probably don't see anything wrong with what you wrote, Evan, but then the people who wrote offensive things about Elise probably don't either...

      Commenter
      Tim the Toolman
      Date and time
      April 18, 2013, 11:49AM
    • I actually thought the "I f*cking love science" page was run by more than one person. I find it fascinating, some of the stuff that crops up on it. It is really interesting.
      The fact that it is an attractive woman actually, to me, makes me think of her as a kind of role model for all those gorgeous kids out there interested in science.
      When I first saw her picture in this article, I thought of Dr Alice Roberts (anthropologist, scientist, presenter of interesting television) - they could almost be sisters.
      It's one thing to be surprised by the fact she is, well, female. It is quite another to start such a god-awful facebook page that vilifies and objectifies her. It should be taken down. It is off.

      Commenter
      does it really matter
      Date and time
      April 18, 2013, 12:57PM
    • Harvey, I agree - I thought it must be a team of researchers, because the posts are so interesting and prolific. I love the page, and I am even more in awe of this fantastic woman, learning that she runs the site on her own.

      However, it is really creepy how quickly the attention takes a sexual turn when her gender and looks have been identified. If ever there was proof of the sexualisation of women, regardless of any other factor or element, than this is it!

      Please Elise, don't let them put you off, you are a fantastic role model for women and girls, and I love IFLS

      Commenter
      ASimpleBogan
      Date and time
      April 18, 2013, 1:36PM
    • @Evan - pretty much all the science guys/gals I know are socially ept people in happy relationships, many with kids, who have broad interests in the world, not just science. They are, in my experience, more likely than most to be interested in art, classical music, jazz, travel, history and comedy. Some of them, like me, are even gay! But generally happy to wear last year's jumper rather than buy whatever is the latest fashion. I think you are talking about 17-25 yo men in general but don't let that spoil your stereotyping,

      Commenter
      StBob
      Date and time
      April 18, 2013, 8:06PM
    • @Evan

      " by and large, maths/science men tend to be socially inept and stay in a sort of suspended adolescence"

      lol you clearly don't work in the math/science field or know many people who do. Congrats on exposing your stereotypical views in a thread about the pitfalls of holding stereotypical views.
      *facepalm*

      Commenter
      Honey Badger
      Date and time
      April 19, 2013, 7:30AM
    • Just saying it's another one for thinking the page was run by a group of people. I don't follow it (I guess I'm too nerdy for it) but I have a lot of friends who do.

      Commenter
      JEQP
      Date and time
      April 19, 2013, 3:56PM
    • Evan, contrary to your beliefs, most scientists are not the introverted, socially inept types that you seem to think they are. I'm married to one and socialise with a lot of them and if you want to succeed in science you need to be quite outgoing and able to talk to other people. My husband's supervisor is one of the most brilliant and funny men I've ever known and he's by far not an exception to the rule.

      I don't understand what all this fuss about a woman running a site like IFLS. I've seen women just as capable of great scientific discoveries and research as a man. It's a sad world we live in.

      Commenter
      Tash
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      April 21, 2013, 10:33AM

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