The Peacock Problem - Part 2.

In response to @therationaliser who criticises my blog piece (here) with the intended view of saying it was my fault for creating a sexual atmosphere or perhaps setting a precedent for the wolf whistling of women.


A few quick points:


“I have no idea why a Nigella Lawson video was chosen to start a talk on science”


Indeed, you don’t. For a start it wasn’t a video- there was a single still shot of Nigella with a voiceover. The context was a recipe for atoms, describing the big bang from the viewpoint of a recipe- times, temperatures and ingredients. Why Nigella? I wanted a familiar face and where possible I like to include as many women in my talks as possible. Mary Berry is famous but I disliked her views on feminism so she was out. Delia didn’t feel the most familiar to the audience so I went with Nigella.


Why didn’t I stop them at this point? I wasn’t on stage, this was an introductory voiceover that lasts a few minutes. They quieted down and the show went on and when better to bring up the issue of sexist attitudes then went talking about Marie Curie.


Additionally I find the implication that the sexual objectification of Nigella Lawson should be in some way expected or understood disgraceful. It was not a provocative picture, just a photo of a TV chef.


On to the Bond section.


Bond is an iconic figure, when talking about the human obsession with gold I thought of Goldfinger. The film is rated a PG. Perhaps an image of king Midas would have been appropriate though something tells me that he would provide a less startling, recognisable figure as the dead and gilded figure of Jill which was on screen for a matter of seconds.


I’d like to take this opportunity to specifically point out that you have never seen me speak, you don’t know what images were used and I find your whole piece not only insulting of me and what I do but disgraceful in the way you blame the women (or myself for having them there) as inviting this sort of action.




Yes, I made a quip about the wolf whistle of Jill. By now the retribution was guaranteed. That is why I said “it is interesting that you whistled again, I think this is something we’ll come back to later” or words to that effect, why not bring it up when it would make the most impact?


Additionally if you quote me in your writing then quote me. Don’t paraphrase and put in quotation marks.


“I often find myself using her as an example of why women are not deficient in intelligence compared to men” I cannot tell you how insulting I find this phrase. Good grief listen to yourself. Disgraceful phrasing. It seems you work on the basis that your children have the assumption that women are intellectually deficient and need corrective examples.


Now you have written your blog condemning me. I have to ask- do you think I did a disservice to women? Do you honestly think that people left the auditorium thinking wolf whistling was fine? I am a good speaker, I have delivered hundreds of science talks the organisers were please, the school teachers were pleased and the levels of presumption you reach in your blog about me and my work are staggering.


If I want to use Nigella Lawson in a talk I will. I’m not going to put a man up there for fear that some people might find her attractive and grunt their masculinity at them. If I talk about obsession for gold then yes I could use old bearded Midas but you make it sound like I showed the audience pornography rather than a still from a PG film.


After seeing my show I’ve been invited to present this show Qutar after a delegation from there saw it- they didn’t seem to have issues with the content so I’m very sorry that my presentation didn’t  meet your seemingly harsher standard.


Women should not be disrespected. What the boys were doing was a vocal demonstration of degradation and I called them on it. I’m sorry you take issue with the way I did it but I am pleased with what I did. The way I did it made an impact and frankly I’m pleased the way I handled it.


If you think I set out to create this atmosphere you are wrong. If you think I didn’t admonish the boys you are wrong. If you plan to review any of my shows in future- please attend first.


You critisise me for not speaking sooner. What if the speaker felt so intimidated by the boys they couldn't speak up? What if they had done it directly to a female presenter- would it be there fault? Their responsibility to stop it?


Fundamentally: No women no matter what they wear, or how they present themselves deserves harrased. EVER. I don't even care that the women weren't there. And if you think I encouraged them then then you really don't know me.


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