My Response to Kevin Drum Saying “Grow Up” over Sir Tim Hunt

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones wrote an opinion piece on the reaction to Sir Tim Hunt’s comments about women scientists, “Are We Really In Control of Our Own Outrage? The Case of Social Media and Tim Hunt.” In it, he wishes we would evolve beyond our current social media mob response to issues like this. In the end, he concludes, “We all have some growing up to do.”

I respect Kevin Drum and his reporting. On this one, however, I didn’t appreciate him suggesting I need to “grow up” because I found Sir Hunt’s comments objectionable and his dismissal appropriate. As indicated elsewhere, I have begun to temper my reactions to issues that are thrown out in a twitter storm, so that I am not contributing to a mobbing, particularly where none is called for. But for me, there is ample reason to contribute my voice to those calling out Sir Hunt’s comments. For Drum to say those of us who are affected by such behavior should “grow up” is like telling women they shouldn’t drink alcohol to avoid being raped. Specifically, it focuses attention on those who are affected by the behavior, rather than on the behavior itself. Long, long before I started weighing how I choose to react to these issues, I realized in the new age of ubiquitous cameras and social media, I would do well to be particularly and persistently mindful of what I say and do. Rather than telling people who have been targeted they should “grow up”, I hope that we as society in the social media age learn that we are always accountable for our words and actions, and behave accordingly.

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