back to article 'Lemme tell you about my trouble with girls ...' Er, please don't, bro-ffin

This week, the science world was shocked to its dorky core after one of its own attempted to tell a joke. In public. Step forward Sir Tim Hunt and hang your head in shame. The Nobel Laureate, who has been a Fellow of the Royal Society for nearly 25 years, royally cocked up a speech to a group of senior female boffins at a …

  1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    My personal favourite in this context..

    .. is this very good cartoon.

    Enjoy :)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pot, Kettle - The Register's next

    If I worked for a website that produces some fantastic smutty headlines, I would not celebrate when an admirable scientist was brought down by feminazi whingers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pot, Kettle - The Register's next

      I don't see the link between the things at all.

      The Reg produces headlines with amusing sexual references (I don't consider them "smutty", that word is of itself a bit of a giveaway about someone's attitudes). Prof. Hunt may have intended a joke, but it would be surprising if someone who had been to many conferences in the past hadn't had the lesson "Do not try to make jokes when there are people from other cultures around" drummed into him. The point was that he was characterising women as inferior beings who couldn't control their emotions in a lab, and therefore perhaps needed to be segregated. Think about the way that slave owners and Afrikaners used to go on about how black people were "childlike". Would his remarks have been acceptable if he said "The trouble with black people in the lab is that they are childlike and emotional and cry when they're criticised"?

      Jokes about sex in the abstract, on the other hand, get made by both men and women. You would still probably be advised not to tell them at the annual get together of Wahabi imams and Hassidic rabbis, but they don't of themselves denominate any group of people as inferior.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pot, Kettle - The Register's next

        Ah yes, two old feminazi lines:

        - "Joking about sex is funny and great, joking about wimmin isn't and isn't".

        It is and it is. We will decide what is funny, not the Womens' Studies men-haters.

        - "Remarks based on sex are the same as remarks based on race".

        They're not. Racism is based on real hatred, you demean it by these comparisons.

        What you usually call out as sexism is not even sexism, but is based on fighting for _real_ equality - that of Opportunity, not of Outcome.

        And I like "smutty", the fact that you don't like that word "is of itself a bit of a giveaway about your attitudes".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pot, Kettle - The Register's next

          "not the Womens' Studies men-haters."

          I've only ever met one of these, and she was a black student visiting Oxford from a mid-Western university. With what I've learned since about "Greek culture" in US universities, I find myself more sympathetic than dismissive.

          Outnumbered ten to one in my experience by the kind of men who wonder why so many women don't seem to like them, but then they open their mouths and you find out. Here's a thought: "feminazi". Because wanting to have equality with men is just so much like a political movement that believed that women had to stay at home and do what men told them, and that most of the rest of the human race was "racially inferior" and needed to be exterminated.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pot, Kettle - The Register's next

            60%+ of medical students are women - I haven't seen the protests demanding women be refused admission to medical school because of their gender, as men are being overlooked for STEM jobs.

            That is because, while men and sensible women are fighting for equality of Opportunity, the men-hating feminazis don't want that equality - they want women doing any fashionable jobs we do, whether those women want to do those jobs or not.

      2. increasingly_irrelevant
        Unhappy

        casting stones and making things uop

        The trouble is to make Prof Hunt look bad you have just had to selectively quote AND add extra words which he didn't say. There is a perfectly good reading of his words that is purely self-deprecating - that he is bad at talking to women so that he makes them cry - remember it is "my "problem with girls Apparently this was spoken at a dinner, not the main conference - so I would guess it was an attempt at humour, and the love bit certainly supports that - it was not intended for broadcast and as far as I know Prof Hunt is not leading a campaign to segregate labs or stop women going into science. I think a lot of people have just been quite cruel to a 71 year old Noble prize winner, who is a pretty soft target, and who wasn't aware that he was going to be put on the world stage.

        1. Amorous Cowherder
          Headmaster

          Re: casting stones and making things uop

          I don't know the man and I'm sure he is actually quite "Noble" but he's actually a Nobel prize winner.

    2. fruitoftheloon
      Happy

      @Bahboh: Re: Pot, Kettle - The Register's next

      Bahboh,

      Ooi do you have any daughters?

      Just wondered...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Bahboh: Pot, Kettle - The Register's next

        If I did, it would not change my view that making silly jokes about gender stereotypes was completely acceptable in a normal society not taken over by whinging wannabe-victims, and I hope my daughters would agree.

        If they worked with the joker, I am sure they would rib him endlessly on his return to work and everyone would have a good old laugh about it.

        So it's a shame that the way things are going, he'd probably be executed by the Wimmin Studies death squad as soon as his hyperliner touched down at Wimminchester Spaceport.

        Loon,

        Are you a virgin ?

        Just wondered...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll get downvoted but whatever

    He has a point

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll get downvoted but whatever

      2 up, 1 down at the moment.

      Kick against the ... erm ... not pricks.

    2. John Riddoch

      Re: I'll get downvoted but whatever

      There may be a grain of truth in the middle of all that, but he said "when you criticise them, they cry". While it may be true that women are more prone to crying under criticism, to play it as a sweeping generalisation disrespects the countless female scientists who accept valid criticism. It could also be that he's such a jerk about how he gives criticism to his female coworkers, the natural reaction is simply cry.

      As for the comments about falling in love, that's possible in many workplaces, although I guess the nature of lab work (working closely in smaller groups on a project) may make it more likely for scientists. In any case, it's all down to how you react to it and remaining professional.

      All in all, I thought his comments said more about him and his attitudes than it did about women in labs.

      1. increasingly_irrelevant

        Re: I'll get downvoted but whatever

        that's the point - it wasn't the launch of the segregate science society, it was a self -deprecating speech at a dinner.

    3. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: I'll get downvoted but whatever

      I think he had something else too. So now look, boys are boys and it doesn't get any better with age. There we have a guy a long way from home among all those good locking women thinking about how to make his point for the more important part of his trip. Rather bald, close to eighty years old but alone for the night and with a point he makes his call. I fall i love and they all fall in love with me. Not such a bad start, I have heard worse. Give him a break, boys are boys and that damned point won't leave us alone.

      Have mercy.

      1. Amorous Cowherder
        Facepalm

        Re: I'll get downvoted but whatever

        "Give him a break, boys are boys and that damned point won't leave us alone."

        Right so it's OK to be an twat and bother the opposite sex because you're old, desperate and a bloke? This sort of bollocks is why fundamentalist feminists love bloke hating, they accuse us of doing these things and the only defense some of us can come up with is to confirm that we can't help ourselves! FFS! "Sorry darling, it's millions of years of genetically repressed animal instinct. I can't help but leer at your cleavage and make remarks about your arse!".

      2. Turtle

        He Has To Know Better..

        He has to know better than to say that he's in favor of single-sex labs. The rest of it is foolish but saying that he's in favor of single-sex labs is a real problem. Once those words leave his mouth, irrespective of the exact circumstances in which they were uttered and irrespective of the remark being an attempt however feeble and stupid at humor then anyone who is so inclined would be fully justified in questioning how much his hiring and promotion decisions are effected by the same attitude.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    //Modern communications networks can be used by the unscrupulous for purposes ranging from cyber-attack, terrorism and espionage to fraud, kidnap and child sexual exploitation.

    A successful response to these threats depends on entrusting public bodies with the powers they need to identify and follow suspects in a borderless online world.//

    You know what?

    I think this is the perfect reply to "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear.":

    If they're looking at everybody's privates, it's because they're perverts.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "A successful response to these threats depends on entrusting public bodies with the powers they need to identify and follow suspects in a borderless online world."

    "entrusting public bodies".

    There's your problem right there. You had our trust. You fucked it up. And now you do not have that anymore.

  6. Barry Rueger

    Bye bye Broffin

    Come on folks. No organization is going to fire a Nobel laureate because of one stupid joke.

    If nothing else, the PR boffins would have told the bosses to sit tight til the smoke cleared in a couple of days and it was all forgotten.

    More likely the "joke" was the last straw in a long history of offensive behaviour.

    Somewhere Dr Broffin likely has a big fat personnel file that has "Your last warning." on the second to last page.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "US officials had apparently refused to cooperate with the probe"

    Well ain't that a surprise !

    No wonder they have no more leads - the path where all the leads point to has a great big NO ENTRY barrier across it.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    End goal

    Will kicking out Prof. Hunt over these comments improve physiology?

    Will moving a probable sexist give more opportunities to others, especially women?

    Or

    Giving an inspired physiologist, who's discoveries have tangibly improved lives, the boot over an out of context quote limit further development in his discoveries.

    .

    Personally I believe public figures should be judged in the context of their field. If a footballer is a drunken idiot off the pitch but inspired on it then we need to judge them for what they are paid for.

    If Prof. Hunt purposely limited women's careers in his labs then he should be damned for that. But if his approach is gender blind in his work then these comments should be ignored.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: End goal

      Fair enough, but in reality he is retired and had an honorary title. The university has to consider next year's admissions, not the last century's research performance. Even if he didn't mean it, even if it was a joke, unless they took action the message to next year's would be biology students would be "come to us for an Islamic educational experience." It's not like there aren't a lot of other Russell Group universities for women to choose from.

  9. Schlimnitz

    The #distractinglysexy hashtag annoys me, because his comment was not (reportedly) about oggling female boffin's assets, but about falling in love, which (unless you subscribe to a severely Neanderthal take on male psychology) is possible irrespective of sexiness.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "unless you subscribe to a severely Neanderthal take on male psychology"

      OT but I'm led to note that the Neanderthals coexisted with h sapiens sapiens1 for much of their existence. I'm not aware of any convincing evidence that they were less intelligent. (Brain size is not very relevant in human beings above a certain mass, as is well known from research.) Perhaps the Neanderthals lost out because they were less aggressive and more egalitarian.

      However...

      If the professor had said that some women students get crushes on more senior male scientists, and it was necessary to be very professional in this situation - that would be quite legitimate (though probably not in the circumstances of the speech.) It was the unreconstructed form of his remarks that was the problem. There is an important sub-text there about how we deal with our biological past in the context of modern society, but he didn't address it. And I'm inclined to agree that the hashtag was a bit uncalled for in the immediate context, but it did have a role in bringing out that women do do hard science research which, at a time when people are about to finalise university decisions, is surely a good thing.

      1Given our remarkable destructive capacity perhaps we should rename ourselves h sapiens deinanthropos, by analogy to dinosaurs.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He has a point, though...

    I've known women burst into tears at comments which would barely have raised an eye-brow if aimed at a guy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: He has a point, though...

      Careful, you're not now allowed to imply in any way that men and women are not exactly the same.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He has a point, though...

        The point, which you seem to have completely missed, is that women want to be treated the same as men. But when you do, tears can quite often be the result.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: He has a point, though...

          Have an upvote for defying the Female Nazis that have recently invaded here and for speaking the truth. It's the same here at my workplace.

          They will outshout anyone with a penis who speaks their own mind and does not kow-tow to the Isle of Lesbos.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He has a point, though...

        So ? I've heard that some men have sex with other men, and good luck to them, but that does not make it the norm for men. Your statement is meaningless.

    3. Martin Silver badge

      Re: He has a point, though...

      I've known women burst into tears at comments which would barely have raised an eye-brow if aimed at a guy.

      I've also known men get sulky and defensive about the mildest of criticisms. But so long as they don't cry, that's all right, is it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He has a point, though...

        @Martin

        And if they did that, you'd tell them to man up and grow a pair.

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