A number of days back, I began seeing links popping up in my newsfeed and in blogs I routinely read, pointing to a new Tumblr site with the alluring title "Congrats, you have an all male panel!" As I visited the site and read about it, I thought it was hilarious and timely and wonderful and absolutely necessary. The creator of the site, Finnish researcher Saara Särmä, is inviting people to submit pictures of and information about the many, many seminars and public discussions in every field possible that employ panels of experts that turn out — surprise! — to be all men.
All men always. All men everywhere.
Over and over again. (If I had a penny for every all-male panel I had to listen to over my years attending meetings in the religious studies and theology academy — almost always ponderous straight white men with beards and tweed jackets sporting leather patches on the elbows — I'd be a far richer man today. Ditto for the "all-male panels" of any concelebrated Mass in the Catholic church.
Men 'splaining things. To everyone but themselves. Straight men talking down to gay men, or, in the case of the Catholic clergy, closeted gay men pretending to be straight talking down to openly gay men. Men 'splaining everything to women. It is so woven into the fabric of our culture, and it so richly deserves to be skewered.)
I'm delighted to see word spreading about this scintillating new website. Yesterday, The Guardian featured an article about it by Melissa Locker, which notes the following:
For the uninitiated, an all-male panel is exactly what it sounds like: a group of (mostly white) men plunked on stage at a conference, usually under the auspices of being the "experts" in their fields, whether that field is agrarian developments in the Sudan, developments in the music industry, advances in chemical engineering, global banking regulation, or even women’s reproductive rights.
After years of noticing this phenomenon, Dr Saara Särmä, a researcher in International Relations at the University of Tampere in Finland, began collecting images of them on Facebook. Soon, people added their own to the collection, leading to the creation of All Male Panels Tumblr. She added a photo of Baywatch star David Hasselhoff giving a thumbs up to each post to further make light of the situation.
Remember the anti-contraceptive "religious freedom" hearings in D.C. in February 2012? Yes, I thought you might still carry that picture in your head, the one that went everywhere following that event.
I haven't forgotten, either. That's why I put it at the top of this posting.
Check out "Congrats, you have an all male panel!" You won't be disappointed.
(I appreciate Ursula for pointing me to this new blog, too, in a comment here.)