Last week one of my students at the University of Houston emailed me to recommend an episode of Bill Nye’s new show Bill Nye Saves the World. This student said he watched an episode on the gender and sex spectrum similar to what we discussed in class. I watched this thirty-minute episode a few days ago and was impressed. Bill Nye did a wonderful job introducing the topic–that gender and sex are different and that both exist on a spectrum–to general audiences. If only it had been longer! We spend hours on the topic in my class.
Apparently, this has made a lot of people really, really angry. This surprises me, but I guess it shouldn’t given that people are generally afraid of science, especially when it relates to something that people have strongly-held religious mores.
I didn’t realize how bad the backlash was until I saw this meme this evening and hundreds of comments associated with it:
This meme overly emphasizes formal credentials and seems to pick a poor fight, to name just a few things.
Bill Nye gets people interested in science! That’s a good thing! And he delivers good, fact-based science.
This article gives an example of the backlash, which also misrepresents some of what Bill Nye has said. This is just one of dozens and dozens of articles currently misrepresenting what Bill Nye has said and misrepresenting science. These articles also strongly resist the scientific fact that both gender and sex are different, are social constructions, and are not absolute but exist on spectrums.
Some people are also criticizing Bill Nye because his explanations of gender and sex have evolved since his show in the 1990s. This can be explained in that each of his shows have different audiences in mind. AND gender and sex are still being defined and clarified all the time. Some people still use them as if they meant the same thing. Science is all about evolving and learning.
For more information, check out some of my previous blogs, including:
- “Women” and “Men,” Part I – Hidden Power of Words Series, #15
- “The Good Men Project” and Calls for Full Inclusion (Or, “Women” and “Men,” Part II) – Website Review Series #3
- Getting it (Mostly) Wrong: AJP’s Take on National Geographic’s January 2017 Special Issue on Gender
And don’t forget to support good science!
Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda