Word of the day: Egregious

egregious:

  1. Exceptional, conspicuous, outstanding, most usually in a negative fashion.
  2. Outrageously bad.

Example: this headline from Science Daily: Fruit Fly Sperm Makes Females Do Housework After Sex

Seriously. How freakin’ embedded in your culture do you have to be to project your heteronormist, traditional gender role shit onto FLIES, people?

Do fruit flies have a monogamous sex life? No.
Do fruitflies live in houses? No.
Do fruitflies live in nuclear families? No.
Do fruitflies iron, bake, or do any sort of traditional Western gender-role stuff? No.
Is it necessary to have all science news stories relate to humans? No.
Is it necessary to have all science news stories relate to sex? No. Maybe. Yes. What was the question?

PhD comics has an EXCELLENT description of the science news cycle. If you haven’t seen this, go print it out and stick it on your door/cube/whatever.

Anyway.

The paper they were actually describing is this one:

Isaac, R., Li, C., Leedale, A., & Shirras, A. (2009). Drosophila male sex peptide inhibits siesta sleep and promotes locomotor activity in the post-mated female Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277 (1678), 65-70 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.1236

Oddly, no mention of dustpans and ironing there….

The paper is actually pretty fascinating–it provides a connection between a peptide in a male fruit fly’s sperm and a change in behavior in female flies after mating.  Mated females skip their afternoon naps (fruit flies take a siesta, as mentioned in the title of the paper) and spend that time looking for food, or places to lay eggs.

This is, regrettably, described as “domestic type activities” by one of the paper’s authors in the news story, although the actual research paper stays on point and doesn’t branch off into this sort of silly anthropomorpic speculation.

I was not aware that finding food was housework. Thank goodness I have science reporters to help enforce gender norms!

For bonus points, guess the Order of Insect covered in this news release before you click through:

Why Nice Guys Get the Girls

EDITED 11.30.09 TO ADD: Ha! the title of the article has now been changed to “Female fruit flies do chores after sex”. Screen shot of the original article now linked.

3 thoughts on “Word of the day: Egregious

  1. “Thank goodness I have science reporters to help enforce gender norms!”

    Sigh – a really dumbass take on a cool piece of research. However, it’s worth pointing out that (and you do) that the scientists themselves did a lot of that in their quotes, as did the people who wrote the press release. The media (according to a Google News search) have largely ignored it with the notable exception of the Huffington Post. ScienceDaily doesn’t really count – it’s an aggregator. It’s to science rerporting what awful compilation albums are to music.

  2. Sadly, I can usually count on a 2-3 day lag between stuff showing up in the Science Daily Aggregator and it appearing in the news or on boingboing. I would like to be proven wrong…but I’m usually not.

  3. Got to love that excessive anthropomorphising! You have to admit though, throwing in the word sex DOES help bump up your page views. People just love to read about it!

    On the other hand, science shouldn’t have to pander to the lowest denominator just to get people interested. The actual paper sounds cool enough without glamming it up.

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