Why I Need Feminism (and Beyond)

Recently there has been a bit of a kerfuffle over some newer entertainment projects. In case you’ve missed it, people have been complaining about Wonder Woman, the new Star Trek trailer, and Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, just to name a few.

Now, for a moment I want to focus on Wonder Woman. If you like action movies, or comic book movies, I highly recommend it. And I’m not alone. And one of the things I liked about it, among many, was how fresh it was to get a different perspective on a familiar story. I’ve heard/read about men feeling strange watching it. And not in the down-in-my-pants kind of way they were expecting. They felt strange watching a story where (for a while) men weren’t in it. At all. They saw no one who looked like themselves on screen. And this was new. And it is new. When I say “I didn’t feel that.” it isn’t supposed to be in some self aggrandizing, look-how-evolved-I-am thing. But I didn’t feel that but only because I was completely enraptured by a new take on a story.

I really like new things. I think variety is great. Not all the time, as my go-to lunch has been a peanutbutter and jelly sandwich for as long as I can remember, but that’s likely due to my obsession with peanut butter more than anything else. But in general, trying new things is good. Getting different perspectives and varying ways of thinking.

In physics we have great reverence for those who change how we see things. Newton, Einstein, and Feynman were all men who helped radically shaped how we saw the understood the world. And there is a long line of European physicists and mathematicians who have done the same. The vast majority of them have been dudes who were white. I feel like we get down to two big options here. Perhaps I’m missing something but it seems that either: a) white men are just much more genetically predisposed to everything from the arts to science to finance to… everything, basically. Or b) we’ve missed out on a lot of brilliant minds that didn’t have the right conditions to succeed.

I seriously doubt that it is the former. I’ve met too many amazing people from all around the world and the color of their skin or what was (or wasn’t) between their legs didn’t have any difference. Now, I could be wrong. I just really doubt it. So let’s just move forward with that as an ansatz.

So what does that tell us? Now, I’m going to be selfish and just focus on myself and what detriment that has directly on me. Many of these things may apply to you and maybe not. You can decide for yourself. And I’ll grant you that an intellect like Feynman’s only comes along once in a great while. But if we missed even one person with that genius, we are behind where we could be. I am behind where I could be. I study physics more because I want a greater understanding of the universe. There is good chunk of our understanding I’m already running up against. As much I wish I was, to be perfectly honest, I’m not the guy who is going to figure this all out.

Then I start thinking about all the other sciences. And engineering. And I wonder where we’d be if we’d had those other brilliant minds working. Would be walking on Mars right now? With the arts, how many great symphonies haven’t I heard? What great stories have we missed?

So that’s why I need feminism and an end to racism. I want all the advantages.