The Aftermath of the Clown Murders

By Julianne Dalcanton | May 4, 2011 11:20 am

Last night the good Dr. Isis posted a fairly droll video of the “Grad Student Rap“. After enjoying an amusing 3:51 minutes on YouTube, I clicked through to one of the many “Suggestions” on the right hand side. As a Flight of the Conchords fan, I was drawn to a parody of their “Most Beautiful Girl in the Room” (Lyrics from the original: “Looking at the room, I can tell that you/Are the most beautiful girl in the…room./(In the whole wide room)./And when you’re on the street, depending on the street/I bet you are definitely in the top 3/Good lookin girls on the street./(Depending on the street).“)

The parody was “The Most Beautiful Girl in the Lab”.  The guys performing it did an impressive job of capturing the vocal stylings and presentation of the original, and their revised lyrics were clever.  But watching it, I suffered from a creeping feeling of “ick”.  Take a sec and watch:

So here’s the ick factor, for me.  The chick is just trying to do her freakin’ job.   I know that’s part of the intended humor, but it just hits a little too close to home for many women.  I doubt that there is any harm that has resulted from the video, and I’m sure the video’s creators had no intent beyond making a funny, well-done parody — indeed, the original video was taken down in response to comments, and replaced with a statement acknowledging how the video might have been interpreted, while opening up the comments to a discussion of issues facing women in science. (Graciously handled, although it now looks like the heavy hand of humorless feminists and political correctness run amok.  You just can’t win.)

That said, I feel like I need to explain a little why even a fairly easy-going viewer might be squicked out.  It’s like someone losing a loved one to a brutal clown attack, and having a hard time finding clowns funny down the road. (Ok, it’s not exactly like that, but you get the idea — sometimes your past experiences make it impossible to ever “lighten up”, no matter how innocently something was meant).   Now, killer clowns are thankfully not a common scourge, but it is a rare young women that hasn’t had to deal with someone being openly more interested in her sexual desirability than her job performance in a professional setting.

Just to drive this point home, this morning I ran across the following:

At a Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) was questioning a panel of experts on the tax code’s fairness. To kick off his questions, Mr. Roberts jokingly said he was conferring an “honorary doctorate of economics” on each of the four witnesses.

One of the witnesses, Aviva Aron-Dine, actually is a Ph.D. candidate in economics at MIT. Making nice with the senator, she said she appreciated the conferral of a degree, because she wouldn’t mind getting hers a couple of years early.

“I always heard a Ph.D. was a pretty hot Democrat,” Mr. Roberts replied.

“Pretty…sorry?” Ms. Aron-Dine responded.

“Somebody asked me what a pretty hot Republican was, and they said, `Nothing,’” Mr. Roberts continued. “So, you know, it’s an equal deal.” Then he went on with his questioning.

Feeling proud about getting to testify before the Senate as an expert witness, and one of the first things she has to deal with is some senator commenting on her being hot?  This crap happens to guhzillions of women in workplaces throughout the world, especially if they also happen to be in the top 3 of good lookin’ girls on the street (depending on the street).  And, it’s complicated, and frequently humiliating when it does.

Which explains why even well-intentioned clever YouTube videos can sometimes have a stronger reaction than intended.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Top Posts, Women in Science
  • Matthew Saunders


    another example of the challenges humanity faces — one’s being offended does not give them *any* rights. One’s thoughts and feelings, what one finds sacred or blasphemous* belongs to them and them alone.

    * the Politically Correct movement, which is secular, has it’s own sense of the sacred and blasphemous that its adherents try to force on others. The Pop ecology movement has similar things. The Catastrophic Climate Change people have similar things as well (‘science’ is sacred, ‘deniers’ are blasphemous). And so forth…

  • Andy J

    Yeah, sexism is still endemic in both society and academia. I’m glad you posted this because the only way it’s ever going to be rectified is if this kind of oblivious sexism is slapped down every time it rears its head.

    As a special point: if you’re reading this and you yourself are prone to making “non-PC” jokes or comments, please don’t do it. You might not be putting any weight behind your words, but you still unintentionally enable an atmosphere in which bigotry is acceptable. You wouldn’t (I hope) make similarly “casual” racist jokes, and being sexist is no different.

  • Eric Habegger

    I got the yuck feeling part way through it also. I could be, and probably am, wrong about what was going on in the minds of the makers of this video but there seems to be a putdown beyond just saying female scientists should be considered more for their sexuality more than their male counterparts. There seems to be an implied insult in this video that women who go into these fields decrease their attractiveness and that it gives the right for men to insult them on this. But since it is not ok to just say intellectual women aren’t attractive the video is instead going sarcastically in the other direction and over emphasizing their “babe-ness”. They are trying to be funny by going in the opposite direction but what they are actually doing is revealing their displeasure with women who are too intellectual. That sucks. Tell me if I’m wrong about this impression.

  • Matthew Saunders

    Eric Habegger,

    your impression is your impression. You might find people who communicate to you that they share your impression, but that doesn’t mean that your impression exists outside yourself somehow. Your impression is created by you (your thoughts, feelings, ideas) in reaction to something you experience. Your impression isn’t imposed on you by some outside force.

    After all, this video ‘is’ just a play of light on a computer screen, that we then interpret as ‘people’ and ‘men’ and ‘woman’ and ‘lab’ etc. What is interpreted by our neurologies as a narrative whole is really not the case in reality — it had to be scripted, there had to be editing done, and each of those involved were probably actors and actresses, so they weren’t really feeling what we think they are feeling.

    The fun part is with us, because we interpret…we have to, that is how we are in the world. And we have our own experiences and memories that further interpret.

    We all have unconscious programs/game rules that we all follow.

    The reaction to this video is the same thing (though, obviously, not of the same scale) as with the people who rioted in Afghanistan over Terry Jones burning of a book — unconscious programs/game rules and worldviews, all interpretations, causing people to act as they acted.

    This is the challenge that we all face, especially as our world gets more and more connected :)

    (I think that these video-makers should do it again, but this time, say, with a woman singing about another woman, or men singing about another man…with the same lyrics. Then notice how people react — different game rules will come into play — the ‘sexism’ one probably will be less stronger)

  • cfftble

    @ Matt Saunders: I can feel my Philosophy and Eng. Lit. lecturers turning in their graves.

    Maybe – and I know it’s heretical to suggest this – but maybe the content is what’s important, not the channel. Maybe being reducible to physical processes doesn’t render a thing irrelevant.

    Maybe silly things like human emotions and reader response are important. I dunno. I’m a compsci guy. I don’t study this stuff.

  • Excited State

    I see where you’re coming from, and it makes me wonder why the original Flight of the Conchords video isn’t just as “icky” to you. After all, the woman in that song is just trying to enjoy the party, and may not appreciate the awkward come-on from a guy who seems only interested in her relative physical attractiveness. And she presumably has more to offer the world than just her looks as a “part-time model.”

    So is the lab setting all that different, or does it just make it hit closer to home to people who are also scientists? Or maybe it’s because women experience more of these sorts of problems in a science setting than they do in the world at large?

  • Bischler Napieralski

    Serious and lethal lab accidents over the past decade were disproportionately caused by women, especially given their “numerical under-representation.”

    Social advocacy and its culture of a goddess universe, victimology, rule of the disempowered, diversity… is madness. Females whose childhoods played with dolls and dressed up are deeply not the same as boys who caught balls, drove screws, and came home dripping blood. A Nomex lab coat does not bridge the difference. Males do stupid painful things to establish dominance among their kind, and learn. Women seduce the winners. Hazardous environments injure and kill. Reality cannot be seduced.

    Social equity is not equality or majority, social equity is 100%. Ban all males from everything.

  • Matthew Saunders

    cfftble: *chuckle* I try not to be solemn :)

    ‘Human emotions’ and ‘reader response’ are important. Everything follows laws, or habits, or behaviours. Nothing ‘just happens’ (no ’causeless causes’, that is a leftover from supernatural theism), but everything happens in relationship to something else.

    Look. Say you have a car accident. You get hurt. You don’t get to ignore that the accident happened, BUT you do have control over how one interprets the event. They always have a choice.

    And how we interpret events are also guided by laws/habits/behaviours/game rules. One of these game rules is to not pay attention to these game rules. Our neurologies are constructed in certain ways, we are influenced by our experiences, what we have learned, by our biologies, our age, our culture, etc etc.

    So, like the Muslims who murdered those UN people in Afghanistan, it behooves everyone to learn their own game rules. So:

    1) They can stop being intimidated by their own worldview, which doesn’t exist independently of them (but that we have been taught does).

    2) We can try on other interpretations and see what happens.

    3) There will be less anxiety in this world, and as we can see from things like the War on (some) Terror, anxiety can kill.

    Noticing that things follow rules does not make them less real or less important.

    So, learning how one’s game rules work and such will lead to people having more fun with their interpretations :) Consciously doing it instead of unconsciously.

  • Julianne

    Excited State — The original song is about a girl at a party of young single people, so I didn’t have any kind of reaction to the FotC version. The parody takes place in a lab, where the most beautiful girl in the lab is studiously ignoring the dude grinding up against her while she tries to get her experiment done (which actually makes me think the creators are basically mocking the kind of behavior that I had a reaction to — but, like I said above, while I don’t think they had any negative intentions, given enough past experience with the ole “ignore it and maybe they’ll stop” technique, I had to shudder.)

    For what it’s worth, if you can survive to the point where you have a few wrinkles and get a little doughy, this kind of problem magically disappears!

  • Laogai

    Is it possible that clowns might find your comments offensive?
    The stereotype of the “scary clown” is one I’m sure every professional clown has had to deal with, complete with screaming kids. Reinforcing the image with an article about “clown murders” will only hurt them further. You should think about the feelings of others before thoughtlessly alluding to them in that way…

    No, seriously – did the above paragraph give you an ‘ick’ feeling about the post, even for a moment? I have the same icky feeling about seeing any other case of society trying to legislate what other people are allowed to think.

    Men often find women attractive. Women don’t want men to find them attractive. (I guess?) We have a conflict of interest situation, a zero-sum game where what one wins the other loses. We already have the rule that the men are not allowed to do anything about it – which is fair enough. But we go further. We have a rule that the men are not even allowed to show it. They’re not allowed to say it to one another, even in private. It is a matter of shame, a grubby secret filthy perversion, even to think it. Forever hiding what they are from the world, such scum do not deserve to have any feelings of self-respect…

    Or then again, in a world that tolerates all sexualities, perhaps we have room for men who not only like looking at women, but who don’t mind being seen doing it in public? If men kissing one another in public is tolerated, for all that it makes people of other sexualities feel ‘ick’, can we not celebrate the freedom of everybody to express their sexual identity without shame? Without having to hide it in dark corners, even though there are other people who feel icky about it?

    It is possible to respect somebody’s intellect and their appearance, at the same time. It is possible to compliment somebody on both, or either, and for neither fact to detract from the other. We all have to put up with things from other people that we don’t like. But we’re tolerant of others, and get along anyway.

  • E Brandt

    Congratulations, you’ve just taken the title of Worst Post on my RSS feed from Techcrunch. Never thought I’d see that happen.

    On the serious though…I don’t understand getting even the tiniest bit bent over this video that most people would turn off by 0:20 (it sucks). Especially when things like “The Real Housewives of ***** ” exist that make women look like vapid twits. But women don’t seem to complain about that. Why?

  • Matthew Saunders


    I think you did a bang-up job with your analysis :) I was just commenting above on the reasons it was taken down.

    E Brandt: some do, some don’t. The old days of ‘what is real’ meaning ‘what the media reports’ are going going away…thanks to the internet, fringe people like you and I can now ‘be real’ in the media sense :)

  • Maverynthia

    I’m sure everyone who’s ever had dealing with John Gacy won’t like clowns:

    So yeah the “Killer Clown” kinda hits home to a few people. :/

  • Matt B.

    Because of reactions like this, I will never figure out how to get a girlfriend. I’ve pretty much had to stick with the line from The 40-Year-Old Virgin: “I respect women so much that I leave them completely alone.”

    I didn’t interpret the men’s actions in the video (such as waving a guitar around) as actually happening. Because if they did that stuff, she would have at least told them to stop interfering with her work and her presentation. Maybe it wasn’t that way in the original, in which case that would make this one “icky”. Watching it again, it does seem that some of the men’s action is real, but it also ends with the guy just doing lab work near her, which makes it seem like everything else is just in his head.

    I don’t get #3’s interpretation at all. I think this parody was made because they think women with brains are more attractive, all else being equal.

    Sen. Roberts was absolutely out of line.

  • Eric Habegger

    Matt B,

    “I don’t get #3′s interpretation at all. I think this parody was made because they think women with brains are more attractive, all else being equal.”

    Like I said, my assessment may be wrong, but I don’t think so. I’m pretty good about these things. And there really is a deep sarcasm coming from this video that does not seem to me to be about the men acting out, but rather about the object of desire that they are acting out with. It seems quite different from the Flight of the Conchords that way where the parody is about the would be suitors. And something else nobody here yet gets: EVERYBODY likes to feel attractive, but nobody wants others to take liberties based on that, especially if its in a work situation where singles would not meet to hook up. All the men in this video are taking extreme liberties as opposed to the series it was based on. So even though both situations are ridiculous this one has a really nasty undertone to it.

  • ix

    A disclaimer: I liked this video and was disappointed when they took it down.

    I don’t think it is sexist (there is no statement made on women’s worth in their jobs, definitely not explicitly and I’d argue not implicitly either). Indeed, your own comments seem to indicate you don’t really find the video itself sexist, more the fact that it feels uncomfortably close to a lot of bad situations women in professional positions still find themselves in. Since it’s a parody video the girl herself is obviously in on the joke. This isn’t a video some guys shot of themselves dancing around some random girl in their lab (I’d be with you all the way if it was). This is something they all (men and women) got together on to make. That to me makes a huge difference.

    It’s a tough question of what we should diss and what we shouldn’t in this particular cultural transition. But this quite clearly does not have the intent some people are apparently finding in it, and the only way I can fault it is that the woman is the object of some guys’ affection, rather than some guy the object of some women’s affection. Or maybe it’s the suggestion of sex in the workplace? Perhaps that is wholly unappropiate, but I don’t think Julianne meant her post quite as puritanically.

    If you do feel icky about it, it looks to me like it’s not the video that’s causing that, but the situations you yourself have found yourself in. I have to refuse feeling bad about liking this particular video. It’s just not making a statement, certainly not loudly enough for me to find something to agree or disagree with.

  • Grow up

    What if I were to say that this article is abusive to men?

  • Bryce

    I found it amusing.

    I also took it as a “how not to guide”.

  • Eric Habegger

    “What if I were to say that this article is abusive to men?”

    I’d say you likely are a Republican, or at least that you think like one.

  • Matthew Saunders

    #19: That shows where you’re from :) You really think there is a difference between the 2 wings (the ’emocrats & the ‘publicans) of that 1 party in the USA? I guess when there are only 2 choices, there isn’t much room for nuance…

    And you can keep trying to externalize your assessment of the video and find people that will agree with you, but you can’t get away from the fact that the assessment is created by you and belongs to you and no one else. In reaction to something outside of you, sure, but not existing independently of you. You have choices in your interpretations and we often pick the one that is most comfortable with us, that fits with our views. But the choice is always there.

  • Eric Habegger

    Hey, it was light hearted humor. Is that only ok when it supports your side? It seems to me that those accusing others of being thin skinned show their true colors when they act the same way. And before you accuse me of being thin skinned about this issue it just so happens I’ve never had the privilege of being sexually harassed at work. Perhaps because i’m male. That does not mean that i can’t empathize with women who have. Actually plenty of democrats are exactly like republicans in their sexism. However it is much more institutionalized among reps. I’m afraid your philosophical stance that you took before has now been shown for what it is – a ruse.

  • Low Math, Meekly Interacting

    I guess if watching the video induces flashbacks of workplace harassment, I can see the objection, but to me the thing was straight-up parody, and a pretty good one at that. The “School of Pharmacy” joke definitely got a spit-take, and the conical-tube-enhancement strategy was about as big an endorsement of male hypersexuality as “Dick in a Box”. If these guys were modeling their own behavior, then they clearly know how pathetic it can be. The pure cheesiness of the tune they’re spoofing also simply cannot be accidental irony. And can we not appreciate the sly reference to the lab’s male:female?

    I guess some people deal with objectification and workplace sexism by condemning it outright, while others give it a sendup. Both approaches work for me, and, sorry, but I thought this video was damn funny, in the almost rueful kind of way I’m sure it was intended.

  • Matthew Saunders

    # 21: Namaste. Sorry for the monkey screeching :) Such is the problems with communication in this kind of media. Carry on, you young G_d.

    I’ll stop with this sacred # 23 comment.

  • Anne C. Hanna

    The video struck me as a parody of male douchebaggery rather than an expression of such, thus I found it amusing rather than distressing. (Like Low Math, I was reminded of “Dick in a Box”.)

    However, the dismissive mansplaining by some of the commenters here who seem to feel they must denigrate the feelings of those who are offended by the video in order to defend it is completely contemptible. Is it really not possible to for you to just say, “I personally didn’t think the video was offensive but I can understand why others with different life experiences from myself might reasonably be bothered by it”? The original video creators didn’t seem to have much difficulty taking this approach, so what’s stopping you from doing the same?

  • Jennifer Ouellette

    What Anne said. Pretty much sums it up. That such a calm, good-natured, and rational post elicited so many obnoxious comments is frankly kind of sad.

    None of us can escape our own personal framework, which is built on our experiences. I wasn’t squicked out by the video — although I didn’t find it particularly amusing or well done either (and I’m a big fan of these sorts of parodies). But for a woman who has been harassed in the lab while trying to be taken seriously and get her job done? Yeah. I can see how even a light-hearted take might make her feel a bit icky by bringing unpleasant memories and emotions to the fore. And that woman’s reaction should not be blithely dismissed or explained away. All you need to say is, “Hey, I’m not offended, but I get why you are, and that’s okay.”

  • Matthew Saunders

    When the internet is at its best, it is just like home, where every time I walk out the door I come into contact with another culture, another worldview, another fellow human being who is here sharing in the common human experience.

    The ‘net is a good test of our compassion. And here we all are, witnessing the birth of a global civilization, where we all will have to learn how to live with one another, even when we don’t agree with each other, which will be often :)

    A gift of exploration and transcendence for you all, “Alphaland” by Jonas Kyratzes, a man who makes, with his lovely wife, spiritual bits of art…totally SFW.

  • AI

    I find it ridiculous that someone can get offended by this obviously staged video.

    I don’t value people who get easily offended.

  • diogenes

    I am now seriously squicked by the sorts of people who are using the term “squicked”.

  • Jane Rigby

    Thanks, Julianne, for a nice description of the attitude of workplace ickiness that women in science frequently have to deal with.

    Thanks, commenters, for illustrating exactly how stone age CV’s comment threads can be.

  • ix

    @Anne, Julianne, I hope you won’t take this as trying to explain away the feelings of those who were offended. I get why someone would be offended, I just don’t think it’s a good reason to shame its creators and/or make them take the video down.

    The annoying thing about trying to discuss something like this is half the commenters seem not to have made it out of the fifties yet.

  • jls

    Thanks, Julianne, for pointing out how the weight of context changes what ought to be a lighthearted fun parody into an uncomfortable reminder of inequality. It’s an important point — the context changes everything, and we have a responsibility to acknowledge that the meaning of our actions depends on our environment.

    I am stunned and disheartened by the willful denialism in the comments.

  • Elizabeth

    I’m a woman in physics, so I’ve been the only girl in the room plenty of times, but I didn’t find the video offensive at all. It seemed to me that it was quite self-deprecating – the guys were the ones who came off as sort of lame and pathetic. Maybe it’s because I don’t have the killer clown experience – sure there has occasionally been joking around and/or flirting from guys I know through work (which I’m glad of since I married one of those guys) but I’ve never had anyone treat me unprofessionally in a professional situation.

  • valatan

    I’m seriously baffled by the people who can’t tell the difference between workplace sexual harassment and flirting in a social situation. Even the workplace interaction can be ok if you start with asking someone out for coffee, and then dropping the issue entirely when you get a ‘no’. It’s about respecting the other person as an equal human.

    And Matthew Saunders, your ‘reality is meaningless’ nonsense completely belies the fact that we live in a cultural context where there ARE plenty of social assumptions in our interactions. Het men and het women from the same culture interacting in the workplace is a wild far cry from a software developer from San Francisco meeting a Pashtun goatherd for the first time.

  • bmf

    The FotC song was an inner dialogue that Jemaine had with himself regarding his luck at finding an attractive woman at a party with the added bonus that she was actually attainable. The fact that she was beautiful enough to be a model, but still in his league drove the narrative of the song. The video had the added benefit of being made by professional TV people who have the training to communicate the idea that Jemaine was outwardly awkward but inwardly a suave crooner, these being his private thoughts. Jemaine as a character is grandiose and delusional about his prowess with women, which is WHY he’s hilarious. The men who made the parody are not actors and though they had the very brave participation of their colleagues, they also were not actors, therefore no one had the ability to impart the social awkwardness of the original.
    I am a woman and when I watched FotC I identifed with Brett and Jemaine and hardly even remember who the girl was (though I think she the American from Peep Show). However when I watch the parody, I identify immediately with the girl and the effect seems somehow sinister. I think this is because the men in the parody are making sexually aggressive moves on this girl. Their behavior turns this girl into prey, not a girlfriend. I know I am interpreting that differently than the video intended, but there are obvious lines that trigger a fear response in me. The line about the woman on the dance floor with Jemaine was a device to point out his competition, the line in the parody about the girl at the centrifuge, with seven other dudes implies that they are all viewing her as sexual and she is outnumbered. No matter what they intended, this triggers an automatic prey response in me and I now see every one of those men as a threat, no matter who they are. It’s a visceral reaction with very deep roots that is not intellectually negotiable. However, I really feel like these men chose their words because they rhymed and not because they menace women in their lab.
    These men are young and they will eventually learn to approach women without spooking them. I don’t think they should be critisized for their video and I hope they keep watching good content and making their own stuff.

  • roberta brawer


    This is just a thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing things beautiful, subtle, ambiguous, and funny in the delightful, charm-filled ways that you are so skilled at. It is very rare for me to be a blog commenter, but I want you to know that I often (perhaps almost always) pause, breathe a bit, and glimpse the world at a bit of a new slant after reading something you have posted. So here’s a quiet thank you from a respect-filled reader

  • Elizabeth

    Interesting … when I commented before I had watched the spoof video but not the original. To me the spoof seemed fun and self-deprecating and not at all icky, but the original gave me a very creepy feeling – the guy in the original seems really predatory to me. In the parody, the woman seems confident and in her element and in no danger at all. In the original, the woman seems to be alone at the party and maybe feeling a little less confident – she seems much more vulnerable to me. Yet others are having the opposite response, so you are probably right that it has more to do with our own history than anything else.

  • Anne C. Hanna

    AI, I don’t value people who proudly and belligerently display their lack of empathy for others. Piss off.

    ix, I admit that I’m not sure taking down the video was necessary, but I do think it was necessary for the creators to respond to viewer concerns with empathy rather than dismissal, which they did. Since the video remains available from other sources, it hasn’t been lost to those who want to see it, and the creators nevertheless managed to stay classy. So it seems to me pretty much win-win on that front.

    The part where it’s not so win-win is the part where the douchebag brigade took this whole affair as an excuse to once again come out and have a big ol’ party about how women are too wussy and girly and irrelevant to belong in science, and so they should shut up about their stupid whiny girl feelings already because they’re objectively wrong to have those feelings, according to men who are, due to their Vulcan awesomeness, much better at evaluating how women should feel than women are.

    Your comments above weren’t as bad as some of the others, but you still seemed to pretty deeply miss the point that this isn’t just women getting upset about some irrational thing that they made up in their incomprehensible girly heads and don’t have any right to expect anyone else to be sensitive to. Instead, this is women getting upset about a real, ongoing problem that many women (although not I personally) experience on a daily basis. This is something which it’s everyone’s responsibility to have sensitivity to and to try to eliminate. Nobody’s saying you have to feel bad for enjoying the video, but you *should* feel bad about the fact that you’re dismissing as unworthy of attention the legitimate emotional responses of those who didn’t enjoy it as much as you did.

  • Matt B.

    “…the line in the parody about the girl at the centrifuge, with seven other dudes implies that they are all viewing her as sexual and she is outnumbered. “
    This shows why it’s impossible to “learn to approach women without spooking them”. You’re too easily spooked. The other guys were just waiting in line. So I can either spook you, or not approach you at all.

    The original is so much sleazier, with the guy talking about feeling each other up (willing to risk getting slapped for it) and comparing her to a high-class prostitute.

  • Matthew Saunders

    # 38 Matt B.: “This shows why it’s impossible to “learn to approach women without spooking them”. You’re too easily spooked. The other guys were just waiting in line. So I can either spook you, or not approach you at all.”

    I recommend trying out another culture, sweetie. Contrary to attempts by some at normalizing social interactions, everyone is different, I have found. Treat people as people and be willing to make mistakes. Get a wide-enough sample of people watching, and at least 1 person will be offended, no matter the action.

    One of my gfs is from Czech, and she says that men in my city are too timid…they should take more risks :)

    I find young people from non-Canadian and US countries to be quite open and relaxed…less anxious and more open to the lovely messiness that life is.

    (But whatever causes people to examine themselves and their issues is all good to me)

  • Anne C. Hanna

    Treat people as people and be willing to make mistakes.

    Amen, Matthew. The reason so many guys have problems dealing with women is because they’re trying to “deal with women” rather than deal with fellow human beings. We’re not a different species from men, and we’re varied individuals with varied personalities just like men are. If a guy treats women as incomprehensible alien stereotypes, it really shouldn’t be much of a surprise to him when most chicks don’t want anything to do with him. And yet somehow it seems that there’s a large contingent of guys who are completely incapable of comprehending this.

  • Dennis

    “Contrary to attempts by some at normalizing social interactions, everyone is different, I have found.”

    From following your various comments, all I have to say is: I bet you have. 😉

  • a dude

    @Anne C H. (#37)
    “…about how women are too wussy and girly and irrelevant to belong in science…”

    interesting. after reading the bending-over-backwards mansplanations in the comments (“i’m so hurt by you pointing out my sexism!”) i got the exact opposite impression. maybe there shouldn’t be so many guys in the sciences if their feelings get hurt so easily.

  • Matthew Saunders

    #41 Dennis: “From following your various comments, all I have to say is: I bet you have. ;)”

    Yuppers. I guess it helps that I grew up in a culture and an environment where I was constantly surrounded by so much loving and I didn’t find out until my more adult years that there were these divisions into “Religions” and “Philosophies” and “Colour of skin” and “Politics” and “Gender” and so forth. People just WERE.

  • Anne C. Hanna

    @a dude (#42)

    I got nuthin’ to add, but you made me laugh. :)

  • A different dude who is totally not the same as the dude above

    a dude (#42): “after reading the bending-over-backwards mansplanations …”

    “mansplanations”? Really. An entire language to choose from and you settled on mansplanations?

    It’s not just that your post is a contentless ad hominem, it’s that your contentless ad hominem doesn’t even bother to pretend that it has a genuine point to make beyond tarring, caricaturing, and preaching to a choir.

    Maybe – just maybe – this might be a complex issue with strong feelings on both sides that can’t be easily reduced to black and white talking points. Maybe both sides actually have points. Maybe both sides are also capable of overstating those points in the heat of debate. Crazy right?

  • Anne C. Hanna

    Different dude, you have described your own post to a T. Congratz.

  • Charon

    Having just watched both videos for the first time… I thought the original was mildly amusing and a little creepy, and the parody was more amusing and less creepy.

    On the other hand, despite being in physics I have actually taken a few acting and cooking classes, and thus had the experience of being the only guy in the room. And it was a little uncomfortable. Despite all the women being quite nice. Very mild jokes about men felt a little awkward, in a way that they definitely wouldn’t have if the genders were split 50-50.

    So yes, I understand this all depends on your experience. And those of us who haven’t had your experience should appreciate your sharing it, so we can better understand. And yes, I also understand the point of view of men who so obsess about not causing such awkwardness/offense that they rarely approach women at all to feel out a romantic relationship. I hope women understand that perspective too.

  • lily


    1) Lab parodies of regular songs are always truly embarrassing.

    2) I don’t think it’s at all offensive because it is so clearly in the spirit of Flight of the Conchords. I’m totally willing to follow the argument proposed by the post unlike half these punks who clearly dismiss it out of hand to beat some drum about why they hate feminism (even the scientifically inclined can be extra stupid about some things) and I rarely conclude that they’re the result of overreaction. However, in my opinion, the super cartoonish context of the song makes a difference and the lab setting is less a commentary on work dynamics in science than it is the result of the creators being a bunch of bored dorks who work in a chem lab.

    I can understand how women might be reminded of unfortunate situations with socially retarded lab mates of the past, though, and I think that’s the crux of this post: just one lady saying “let me explain the perspective of someone who might find this video annoying.” You don’t need to agree with the conclusion but attempt some empathy ffs.

    3) Matt Saunders is the worst type of nerd. Take that shit to some message board for tedious philosophy majors or other people who’ll fall for that, jesus christ.

    4) “Because of reactions like this, I will never figure out how to get a girlfriend.” -> hahahaha.

    5) “I don’t value people who get easily offended.” -> hahahahahahaha.

    6) @34, I thought the joke about the centrifuge was that you have to wait foreverrrr to use high demand instruments. So true, right?

    7) @45, it is super excellent to have you around to point to as an example when I need to write “let’s not pretend that women are the more uptight gender: look, dudes become completely humorless and pedantic in response to tiny offhand jokes too!”

  • we are all in it together

    The boundary between what’s acceptable and not has always been vague. It’s always wise for a male to not recognize his colleague/fellow student in academia as opposite sex, a potential mate. It’s not very hard, as females in academia aren’t so attractive to begin with (not in a physical sense, but as human beings I emphasize), but sometimes feeling toward opposite sex is difficult to control. There must have been a reason Nature created sex to drive our survival instinct. To deny that and we can always be rational is simply unscientific.

  • Em

    I am so confused… that was an awesome video. Why is Much Music, or cable in general petitioned down if this is remotely a problem?

    Like other students working in a science lab, it’s so nice to see these parodies mimic our social lives, or lack thereof, lol.

    I don’t think the majority of the people with a problem with this video come from a science background. I’m more inclined to believe the Arts and Social Science majors like to make big issues out of anything to sound intelligent.


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