Scientific American and Bora

I wish Scientific American had taken a different approach to the problems of Bora Zivkovic. Without him there would be no science blogging community. They didn't fire the community he brought to them. As far as I can see they di d nothing to help him, yet all his actions could be clearly seen as desperate cries for help. They could have helped, but it appears that they did not.

We have a lot of problems relating to gender in our society. We're not very evolved about them. We give all the blame, all the punishment, to men. But we fail to see how this is a product of the way we, as a society, view men and women.

I'm reading an eye-opening book by Terrence Real about male depression. I recognize what he's talking about, based on personal experience. The stories of other men's lives are totally eye-opening. I am very much a man, and was raised to project my feelings outward, to even deny that I had feelings. That of course did not get rid of them, they just were expressed in different indirect ways. I learned about this years ago, went through eight years of therapy, and changed my lifestyle and goals, so that I could stop pretending to be someone who I wasn't. I've had some degree of success with that.

So I feel kinship with Bora, and I wish that Scientific American, a publication that I have great admiration for, could have taken a pioneering approach to this situation, and said yes -- we have exposure, and we need to control that and mitigate it, which they clearly did. But we also love this person Bora, and he's hurting. He hasn't been saying it clearly, but we also haven't been listening. And instead of basically destroying him, which I don't doubt his firing will do, we could help him. And in doing so, learn about the science of human gender. Why we do what we do. And how to grow from these experiences. Be scientific about being human, based on what we know now, in 2013.

You know people say men shouldn't talk about gender. That's half the problem, but we don't see that part. We see the acting-out that comes from pretending that half our species doesn't even exist. As if men could fix this on our own. We can't. We are a whole species, we create each other. There's no such thing as solving the issues of one gender without also solving them for the other.

Now, it could be that I don't know all of what happened, so I have to offer that caveat. But if it is what it appears to be, I think they could have done much better, and I wish they had.

A note about this piece

I thought long and hard on whether I should write this piece, and talked privately with a few people about it. I decided that if there's a reason to be scared about providing some limited public support for Bora, that's all the more reason I should do it. If it were easy, there would be no point doing it. Everyone would be.

But we're afraid to do this -- because we're afraid to get harmed by the rage that almost always spills over when a man expresses a contrary opinion on gender. So we get a very small section of what people really think and feel about these issues in the public sphere. Privately, people are much more expressive.

This prohibition is what's so bad about the way gender issues are discussed in 2013. Never has there been more fear. I have theories about why this is, but that can wait. What couldn't wait is trying to find something positive in the terrible thing that's happening around Scientific American blogging community right now.

Posted: Mon, 21 Oct 2013 14:49:22 GMT