Earlier this year the contestants of the Miss USA 2011 Pageant were asked a simple question – “Should evolution be taught in schools?” Their responses were posted on YouTube and viewed by roughly a million people.
For supporters of science education, the answers from most contestants were disappointing. Here were some prominent female role models, put on the spot about a controversial issue, either rejecting or hedging on well-established scientific consensus. The most prominent response, however, was also disappointing – a biting mockery of pageant contestants.
A few friends and I wanted to see a more constructive and positive answer to the question – one that focused on the positive, didn’t attack anyone personally, and featured the voices of other female role models who had pursued careers in science. So here’s the result:
The reaction from the “other side,” however, wasn’t exactly civil. Before getting into any of the specific comments made in the video, one of the leading voices of “intelligent design” (not interested in linking to him, though he’s easy enough to find if you look) had this to say about the video and the people in it:
It shows sixteen female academics or science writers, mostly young, whose enthusiasm for evolution is so overwrought that they turn themselves into propagandists.
Eager to show how well they have been trained, they are like show mares who trot around the paddock jumping over each gate in turn. All the while they give the camera a look that says: “Aren’t I good?”
I don’t post this to start yet another flame war on a topic that has seen too many of them. But I’m sure this is all too familiar to women who choose to speak publicly on the issues that concern them. When I see comments like this, I think the person who made them doesn’t view a civil discussion as something in their interest.
Perhaps it’s naive to strive for a civil discussion that focuses on facts before personalities. But in this video I see sixteen women who are showing us a better way to have this discussion.
And on the other side I see a man calling those women “show mares.”
How well has each side furthered their cause? What do you think?