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Black Hole of Misogyny: Reddit trolls just can’t stop attacking Dr. Katie Bouman for her crime of doing nothing wrong

Katie Bouman and her critics

By David Futrelle

Reddit’s worst misogynists just can’t stop attacking Katie Bouman, the 29-year-old MIT researcher who has inadvertently become their newest Woman to Hate on the Internet.

Her crime? Literally nothing beyond having her picture taken at a happy moment in her life.

She was one of the researchers who worked on developing the algorithms used to capture the first ever image of a black hole, and a photo of her reacting with delight to her team’s success circulated alongside the actual image of the black hole earlier this week. The photo of her inspired a brief burst of coverage about her role in the project, with some in the media crediting her as the person who’d written the code that enabled her team to generate the black hole image.

And that’s when the misogynists lost their shit, on Reddit and elsewhere, blaming her for stealing credit from the men on her team.

On Reddit, a thread in the UnpopularOpinions subreddit declaring that Katie Bouman should not be getting credit for the picture if [sic] the black hole turned out to be not-so-unpopular after all, garnering more than twelve thousand upvotes and generating nearly four thousand comments.

Countless other threads popped up in vast array of other subreddits, ranging from r/space to r/dankmemes, many of them contrasting her supposedly paltry work on the project with that of the man who allegedly “contributed 850,000 out of 900,000 lines of code” used to generate the image of the black hole.

Never mind that she never tried to take credit for anyone else’s work and in a Facebook post noted that “no one algorithm or person made this image, it required the amazing talent of a team of scientists from around the globe and years of hard work.”

Never mind that Andrew Chael, the guy the misogynists credited with doing the lion’s share of the work, quickly went on Twitter to denounce their attacks on Bouman and note that the algorithm they ultimately used “would have never worked without her contributions.” (He added that no, he had not in fact written nearly a million lines of code.)

Yet the misogynists just can’t stop talking shit about her, a woman who literally did nothing to them or the world other than doing her job well.

On Reddit’s worst hives of misogyny the reaction has been extreme, even by Reddit’s-worst-hives-of-misogyny standards.

On the Braincels subreddit, Reddit’s main forum for incels, I found more than thirty separate topics devoted to denouncing Bouman, with titles ranging from “Katie Bouman is a FRAUD: WOMAN TAKES CREDIT FOR BLACK HOLEALGORITHM” to “Fuck this women [sic].” She was described, variously, as a “bitch,” “the black hole c*nt” and simply as “a hole.”

After Chael stood up to defend her, Reddit’s incels were quick to denounce him as a “cuck” and a “numale” buttering her up in a desperate attempt to get laid. (In fact, as he pointed out in the very Twitter thread defending her, he’s gay.)

Over on the Men Going Their Own Way subreddit, the men who like to loudly insist that they simply don’t care about women at all any more also devoted something like thirty topics to the “black hole chick,” (I may not have found them all) including “Hi my name is Katie Bouman and I’m a fraud,” and “A woman wanting sole credit for the work of over 200.” And yes, they also denounced Chael as a “beta simp” and “probably a cuck virgin hoping that if he’s nice enough Katie will touch his pee pee” after he defended her on Twitter.

Normally for a post like this I would go through at least some of these threads in detail and extract some of the most revealing comments. But today, I just don’t have the patience. It’s Friday. Fuck it. I’ve browsed through a bunch of the threads and, well, it’s more or less the same old bullshit you’d expect from these reactionary assholes, only a lot more of it this time. Let them yell into the void this time. I’m fucking done right now.

And people wonder why women are reluctant to go into STEM fields.

EDITED TO ADD: There are so many topics on l’affaire Bouman in the Braincels and MGTOW subreddits alone that, well, here’s one browser window’s worth of the tabs I opened up for this piece, minus a bunch I’ve already closed. I have a bunch more tabs related to this post opened up in several other windows as well.

FWIW. I have nine separate windows open in Chrome right now and most of them have nearly this many tabs open in them. Even with most of the tabs suspended by a browser extension, I’m using 86% of my memory and went over 90% several times doing this post. I have a little bit of a tab problem.

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Alan Robertshaw
3 years ago

Elon Musk

Wasn’t he going to sort out the water issue in Flint; or did I imagine that?

Moggie
Moggie
3 years ago

@Buttercup, the COO of SpaceX is a woman: Gwynne Shotwell, an engineer with a shitload of aerospace experience. Can you imagine the reaction if reports about Falcon launches highlighted her? I suspect, though, her day-to-day contribution to the company is at least as much as Musk’s.

doethreetwoone
doethreetwoone
3 years ago

AHH! Woman do Thing!! AHHH!

Phaos
3 years ago

@Moggie: I mean day to day stuff COO is a far more relevant C-level than CEO, so I guarantee Shotwell does way more for SpaceX than Musk.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
3 years ago

@Moggie – OMG, the proverbial cow would be had if Shotwell got due credit. Women in STEM are still treated like post turtles.

Whenever there’s a newsworthy scientific achievement and a woman receives credit for it, suddenly everyone remembers that the work was collaborative and team-based. Obviously her team must have been carrying her and covering up for her deficiencies. Whereas when a man is the public face of success, he’s a lone genius innovator. If there was a team, they were simply following his directions. He’s the visionary, they’re the worker ants.

Some people just can’t accept that women can also change the world.

Scildfreja Unnyðnes
Scildfreja Unnyðnes
3 years ago

Elon Musk takes credit for woman actually arranging operations of a space program – he’s going to save the world! We’re going to mars! Hyperloop!

Previously unknown woman is given credit for incredible scientific achievement and rejects it in favour of her team getting the credit – she’s a fraud! Women can’t do anything but steal men’s accomplishments!

This is pretty much exactly the argument I had with some programming dorkuses day before yesterday. Once the fact that she rejected the framing and wanted emphasis put on the team, they swiftly shoved the goalposts to the line that read “The media gives everything to women and hates men because they’re pandering to SJWs!”

Techbro jerks are so exhausting.

Also, ahmigah david your browser tabs are like makin’ me hyperventilate over here.

Lainy
Lainy
3 years ago

Wow they really get mad when a woman has more intelligence then a sea cucumber don’t they.

Ellesar
Ellesar
3 years ago

Wow, I was expecting her work to tie in with feminism or gender in SOME way, but this is about as far away as you can get!

So in their world no woman can ever do anything of value ever presumably unless it fulfils rigid gender stereotypes.

Makes absolute sense!

Moggie
Moggie
3 years ago

@Alan:

Wasn’t he going to sort out the water issue in Flint; or did I imagine that?

Well, I believe he has donated money to the effort. That’s maybe better than him promoting a harebrained tech solution, which would probably end with him calling some EPA official a pedo.

Malitia
Malitia
3 years ago

Ellesar wrote on
April 13, 2019 at 9:28 am:

Wow, I was expecting her work to tie in with feminism or gender in SOME way, but this is about as far away as you can get!

She is in a STEM field. No woman can have the right brain for that, so obviously she is there thanks to evil feminist quotas and takes away the job of a deserving dude. This also means that she cannot achieve anything except if she steals the hard work of the more qualified men she oppresses with her womanly wiles. /s

Wondering
Wondering
3 years ago

This lengthy post from Facebook explains that the algorithm Bouman created that’s being referenced is the one that allowed them to find and sort the black hole data from all the other data captured. And what Chael and others (including Bouman) did was stitch that data together into a photo, thus verifying her original algorithm worked. Literally, they could not have had a photo of a black hole without her original algorithm.

https://www.facebook.com/607881312/posts/10156249525816313/

Not Edward
Not Edward
3 years ago

This is standard worthless toxic male logic, and it’s about penises.*
Person A does a thing which is really rather a good thing.
Person A has a penis.
I may have literally nothing worthwhile about my miserable, shitty existence, but I do have a penis, just like person A.
The possession of a penis must therefore be the most important thing about person A, because that would mean I too, must be just as awesome as person A, because I too have a penis.
If person B who does not have a penis does a thing which is as good as or better than what person A did, then this would mean that the possession of a penis is not what makes person A awesome, and so similarly possessing a penis wouldn’t make me awesome, and I’d just be the sad, useless waste of oxygen I appear to be.
Therefore it must be impossible for B to have done anything as good as A, and I must hate B with all the sad little fury I can muster, and tell her to shut up and go away and put my fingers in my ears and cry.
Note: this “logic” also works with “white skin” substuting for “penis” or indeed any other similar supremacist argument you care to pick.
*NB What follows equates “penis” with “male” because toxic male reasoning.

Kerith of Makor
Kerith of Makor
3 years ago

What I think the world actually needs is way more reports featuring women as a natural and unquestion part of sicence teams and faculties, as opposed to people going “Look, she did this despite being a woman!” any time a woman neats an acievement.

Thanks for articulating something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Because there are already thousands of women out there making worthwhile scientific contributions, so it shouldn’t be a big deal anymore to say “Hey, a woman did a thing!”

And to be fair, there are already a lot of reports that cover women’s scientific work like you describe – but they’re easy to overlook precisely because they don’t make a big deal about themselves.

For example, here is a cool story about what the new images of Pluto can tell us about the 4.5-billion-year history of the farthest reaches of the Solar System. Here’s one about what changing ocean currents mean for ecosystems on Antarctica. And if you haven’t yet read up on Frances Arnold, last year’s co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, it’s worth doing – she’s a pretty amazing woman.

So while it’s important to give Katie Bouman all the credit that she’s due, the burden of proving the scientific merit of the female sex doesn’t have to rest on her shoulders alone.

Demonhype
Demonhype
3 years ago

@Malitia

Pretty good, but you forgot one thing, the cherry on the top that gives it that final touch of perfectly rotten misogyny:

#SaintLepine

I’m actually stunned there aren’t more of their posts touting that supposedly heroic “purifier” of STEM. Maybe they realize that might bring down the banhammer faster?

Captain Bathrobe
Captain Bathrobe
3 years ago

So very, depressingly predictable.

Cat Mara
Cat Mara
3 years ago

@Not Edward: In other words (and I think I or someone else here has made this point before), they regard a penis as a… participation trophy. Which is amusing when one considers that when they’re not complaining about women, they’re complaining about that.

Anonymous
Anonymous
3 years ago

I like the way the incels claim, at the same time, that she took credit for work she didn’t do, AND that the whole thing is scientific fraud.

Well, if it IS all a fraud, the least she could do is not implicate others by giving them “credit” as co-fraudsters, right?

Hypatia's Daughter
Hypatia's Daughter
3 years ago

Cat Mara

they regard a penis as a… participation trophy.

Or the t-shirt version: “You don’t earn a participation trophy just for having a penis.”

Tovius
Tovius
3 years ago

@Scildfreja Unnyðnes

I’m glad somebody said something about the tabs! I don’t understand how he can get anything done with that many open.

@ User

I mean, the Russians went after Star Wars, so why not this?

Bina
3 years ago

Woman: *does a thing*

Do-nothing menzer trolls of Reddit, who wouldn’t know how to do a thing if it bit ’em on the crotch: LOOK AT THAT BITCH CLAIMING CREDIT FOR A MILLION LINES OF CODE A MAN WROTE! SCREEEOOOOSCREEEOOOOSCREEEOOOOOOO….

Man who wrote code: *defends woman who did the thing that made the code work*

Menzer trolls: *broken robot noise, followed by a blast of loud static*

Lumipuna (formerly Arctic Ape)
Lumipuna (formerly Arctic Ape)
3 years ago

Thus, concentrated mass of misogyny collapses into a misogynist mass hole, giving us a rare sight of a naked even horizon. The even horizon is a distance limit, when an observer approaches a mass hole’s singularity, beyond from which it is not theoretically possible to even.

Tovius
Tovius
3 years ago

@Lumipuna

*slow claps*

Gijoel
Gijoel
3 years ago

Men… busy building civilization by spending their days whinging about women.

a
a
3 years ago

she didn’t contribute much its already been said by her colleagues you can find it pretty easily

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