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Mary Anning: Google doodle celebrates the missing woman of geology May 22, 2014

Posted by Jill S. Schneiderman in feminism, gender, geology, history of science, science, women in science.
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Google doodle celebrates fossil collector and paleontologist’s 215th birthday as reported in The Independent.

And since Google is celebrating Anning, whom I’ve always associated with ammonites, an extinct group of marine invertebrate animals (phylum: mollusca; class: cephelopoda), I’ve posted below a photograph of two of my students from our March 2014 study trip in which we visited the famous “Ammonite Wall” in the Negev Desert.

AmmoniteNathanJoey

Pliny the Elder referred to these fossils as the “horns of Ammon” because their coiled shape was reminiscent of the ram’s horns worn by the Egyptian god Ammon. The photo below shows the remarkable exposure of a laterally extensive sedimentary layer chock full of ammonite fossils. That’s yours truly standing on the steeply dipping bedding plane.

AmmoniteYonatanJill

And note the the great piece in The Guardian about Anning and the other lost women of geology.

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Manly Lance Armstrong January 18, 2013

Posted by Jill S. Schneiderman in gender.
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This piece is also posted on SpeakOut.

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Regarding Lance Armstrong’s admission to Oprah Winfrey that he used illegal drugs to win as a cyclist, the L.A. Times (and others) reported:

…surprisingly, he attributed it to his battle with testicular cancer that changed his attitude.

“I was always a fighter,” Armstrong said in the first of the two-part interview that aired Thursday night. “Before my diagnosis, I was a competitor, but not a fierce competitor. Then I said I will do anything I need to do to survive. Then I brought that ruthless, win-at-all-costs attitude into cycling.”

That he attributed his win-at-all costs mentality to his testicular cancer does not surprise me. In order to understand it, we need to bring genderinto the conversation. We need to talk about the culture of masculinity–a culture that celebrates success in competition. But I’ve not heard that from the commentators discussing the subject.

If winning in competition with other males is the societal mark of manhood, then testicles are the biological signifier of masculinity. After all, the question of whether or not a man has “the stuff” to take on a challenge often comes down to the crude question, “Does he have the balls?” After surviving testicular cancer, Lance Armstrong has only one testicle. Might that not explain to some degree at least why he was compelled to cheat so completely in order to be a winner?

I read and loved Michael Chabon’s book Manhood for AmateursAs a woman, it helped me understand the excruciating pressure that some American men feel about the robustness of their masculinity.

All the brouhaha about Armstrong could be productive if talk centered on the gender component of this fiasco.