Company Calls Math Teacher Who Complained about Sexist Socks a “Crazy Bi**h”October 02, 2014
“The three things I hate most are math.”
Cindy Phillips, a math teacher outside of New York City, was horrified to see women’s socks that featured this message when she was shopping recently. She saw no men’s version, and the description on the company’s website said that the socks were perfect for “you, your bestie, and your aunt.”
Phillips considers it her duty to fight the messages girls get that “they have no place doing math,” so she wrote the company, Blue Q, to complain. The response she says she got is nothing short of jaw-dropping. She posted her entire alleged exchange with Blue Q on her blog. Some highlights include employees saying that Phillips needed to “take a refresher course in lightening up at your local community college,” that it was hard to wade through the “bile” of Phillips’ concerns about perpetuating gender stereotypes, and calling Phillips a “crazy bi**h.”
But the cherry on top? That has to be the last e-mail that Phillips reported getting from one of the company’s owners. It speaks for itself:
MAN your panties are in a bunch!
Get some air up there!
If these are the responses that Phillips received, it’s clear that many people still think the appropriate response to feminist criticism is to call women names, accuse them of being humorless, and sexually harass them. It would take too much time to properly parse all the absurdities in the response that Phillips reportedly received from the employees at Blue Q. Check it out yourself to see the entire exchange, including Phillips’ detailed criticisms of the socks.
Silka Glanzman of Blue Q (who reportedly wrote the “crazy bi**h” message) said in an e-mail to AAUW that the socks were designed by a development team that’s 50 percent women and that “at no point during the design process did anyone consider it a sexist, discouraging, or divisive message — that possibility didn’t even cross our mind.” Glanzman said the company doesn’t make a men’s version because they don’t make men’s socks.
Though these allegations are alarming and infuriating, it helps to remember that every day, women like Phillips disprove the outdated, harmful, and completely ignorant stereotype that women are bad at math.
As Phillips said in her last note to Blue Q
I’m not going to bother to inundate you with the ways that young women are subtly and not-so-subtly discouraged from learning, enjoying, and pursuing science and mathematics disciplines and how your socks play into the stereotype that women can’t and shouldn’t do math. Luckily, as a math teacher, I have the ability, power, and passion to confront and dissolve this stereotype every day.
In an era when women are increasingly prominent in medicine, law, and business, why are there so few women scientists and engineers?
Here are some refreshing alternatives to the appalling clothing that some companies are marketing to girls and women.
Stereotypes are just funny! What’s the big deal? Allow us to explain.