Attention, writers of the world: Rep. Bachmann may be an odious waste of skin, but not even that is an excuse to be sexist. I speak of this otherwise excellent article on Republicans’ war on the working class, which nevertheless refers to Bachmann as “shrill”.  Writers, please don’t call women “shrill”.  Or “hysterical”.  Or any other gendered pejorative.  Also, please refrain from such ableist language as “crazy”–don’t the mentally ill suffer enough, without unwarranted comparisons to Michele Bachmann? Finally, it is customary to address people by their titles. Rep. Bachmann’s is “Representative Bachmann”, not “Mrs. Bachmann”.

 

Got that, writers? BECAUSE HAVING TO DEFEND BACHMANN REALLY PISSES ME OFF.

 

 To take the foul taste out of everyone’s mouth, here’s a kickass book you all should be reading: Dr. Mireya Mayor’s Pink Boots and a Machete, her memoir of everything from growing up a tomboy in a Miami Cuban household, to becoming a cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins, to college and grad school in primatology, to exploring the rain forests for National Geographic.  All this while keeping her own interests–including “girly” ones like fashion–and extending a middle finger to an establishment that, by and large, didn’t think she looked like a scientist.

 

After class one day, I nervously approached my professor–who looked me up and down, stopping at what I’m sure she thought was an all-too-revealing top and too-short skirt, along with platform shoes–and began to ask her a question. But before the words came out of my mouth, she said, “I saw you on TV. You’re a cheerleader.” I thought I would die. She’d seen me wearing the little uniform and shaking my pom-poms. All this before handing me back the assignment I’d turned in late as a result of that Monday night game.

 

I gathered my courage and said, “Dr. Taylor, I think I would like to become a primatologist. How do I do that?” I immediately realized how silly I must have sounded, but without missing a beat, she replied, “You need to develop a research question, formulate a hypothesis, and apply for a grant. There’s actually a university grant for women in the sciences, and the deadline is in a couple of weeks.” Noticing that she had answered my question without so much as cracking a smile, I felt like a scholar for the first time. 

 

May we all ask questions like Mayor’s, without worrying about sounding silly. May we all have teachers like Dr. Taylor.