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Parallel processing.

You'd never think that all it took was two middle-aged men, sent shopping by the wife of one to buy knickers, to crack the biggest discovery in modern physics.

It was very simple: I'd been staying with my friend Russell in Canberra, trying to sort out how we were going to get our book on virus structure together, when Russell's wife Lilia decided that their youngest daughter needed new school knickers. She was too busy making supper to bother; these otherwise unemployed elderly men were the perfect candidates — and the prospect of not having to listen to us blather on about just where to pitch the book, and what to put in it, and which Jethro Tull albums we liked, probably tipped the balance our way. Seeing as we could continue to do all those things in a car and in the supermarket — and do a side trip to drool over new electronic goodies in Harvey Norman — we agreed with alacrity.


And so it was, that after a most satisfying comparison shop of iMacs versus the rest, and a cruise through rock nostalgia in the shape of special-offer CDs, we found ourselves in a large supermarket, trawling for girls' knickers.

At this point I must digress, and mention, for those who are not aware, the profound differences in strategy between Men Going Shopping and Women Going Shopping. In any general shopping situation, men hunt: that is, they go into a complex environment with a few clear objectives, achieve those, and leave. Women, on the other hand, gather: such that any mission to buy just bread and milk could turn into an extended foraging expedition that also snares a to-die-for pair of discounted shoes; a useful new mop; three sorts of new cook-in sauces; and possibly a selection of frozen fish.

And the interesting thing is — and this is what sparked the discovery — that any male would be very hard pressed to say where she got some of these things, even if he accompanied her.

Have you never had the experience of talking to your significant female other as you wend your way through the complexity of a supermarket — only to suddenly find her 20 metres away with her back to you? And then she comes back with something you've never seen before, and tosses it in the trolley as if nothing has happened?

I know I have — and until recently, I had always assumed it was just me not noticing new things in the aisles we were walking through.

So there we were, looking for knickers, and a rather wary woman asked if she could help, given that we looked lost and hopeless. Russell explained to her exactly what we were looking for, and her wariness seemed to become mild alarm, until we hastened to reassure her that this was in fact a commission for the mother of said child. She then said, with what seemed to be great satisfaction, “Oh, no; you'll never find those in here — you'll have to go down to [some remote location],” which we had no chance of achieving before they closed, so the whole mission was now a failure.

It was as we trudged our forlorn way back to the car that Russell said: “You know, I'm sure we've found them there before — at least, Lilia has.”

I said, only half-joking: “Well, women seem to be able to do that — maybe they're getting into spaces we poor guys can't?”

That was the catalyst: suddenly, we Hunters had an insight into how real Gatherers operated, sparked by our own hopelessness and some considerable acquaintance with the formidable talents of wives when it comes to finding things, and enough science (and science fiction) background to be able to appreciate that parallel universes were quite a reasonable answer to a number of important questions. Including, it seemed, supermarket shopping.

Oh, we were roundly scorned when we got back, knickerless; both for the lack of same, and for our absurd idea — which smacked of desperate snatching at straws to excuse incompetence, to the astrophysics-qualified wife. However, we persevered: we talked it through exhaustively, even conquering problems like: “What happens when you take some item from another universe to the checkout — when they won't recognize the barcode?” Except they do — electronic systems are quantum-computing devices in their ability to access stock codes, and when they don't, then it's invariably a woman who gets sent to look for them, and they, of course, find them ...

And there it might have sat, had it not been for the Internet. We simply put the idea up in as many forums as we could access; we blogged on it; we talked to everyone we knew (well, male, obviously) who could be relied on to observe such phenomena — and slowly, the observations came in.

Then, of course, there was arguing about significance, and power of the statistical methods used, and it all got usurped by some theoretical physicists the moment it started to look as though there was something in it.

But the answer is clear: women can access parallel universes in order to find things, whether they do it consciously or not. They have probably always been able to do this, and now there is fierce speculation as to whether this constituted the evolutionary advantage we had over other primates: the presence of bulbs, grains and nuts on the table that had been retrieved from parallel universes when the hunters came home empty-handed was probably a major factor in the survival of our species.

The difference is that now they know that they can do it — and things have changed.

Because groceries aren't all they go looking for. It turns out the next item on the shopping list is better-looking versions of us.

Russell and I no longer communicate. And we're very lonely.

Author information


  1. Ed Rybicki swears that at least some of this is a true story. The part about Russell Kightley and the knickers, anyway.

Author details


  1. Report this comment #27237

    Ed Rybicki said:

    I wrote this tongue-in-cheek, but I swear I've witnessed my daughter entering Womanspace recently: she's 16, and has started doing all the same things in supermarkets I've become used to my wife doing.

    Like vanishing completely, and reappearing up to half an hour later in a random aisle, and getting all impatient when I plaintively ask where's she's been.

    Ah, me....

  2. Report this comment #27281

    David Brownless said:

    I have a pair of Chuck Taylor All-stars of a pattern that I can not find in any shop, nor on the web, nor have I ever seen anyone else wearing a pair like them; I guess I don't need to say who bought them for me.

    I just wish I lived in whatever parallel dimension my wife was shopping in at the time. They had much better taste there

  3. Report this comment #27290

    Correna McClure said:

    This may also shock you but the uterus is a tracking device. Think about how many times you've asked, " honey where's my . . ."

  4. Report this comment #27330

    Henry Gee said:

    I'm amazed we haven't had any outraged comments about this story.

  5. Report this comment #27436

    Lena Fant said:

    Thank you Henry Gee. I am so outraged by this story that I had to look for the right words for the last week. I cannot believe something like this would be published in 2011. Amid all the open sexism and stereotypes, probably the most hurtful part was the sentence "Have you never had the experience of talking to your significant female other" as if all Nature readers (or maybe all scientists?) were aged men with housewives at home.

  6. Report this comment #27696

    Tami Lieberman said:

    Dear Editors,

    We read the article "Womanspace" by Ed Rybiki in your September 29th, 2011 issue with great interest. What a surprise to learn that women's talent for locating objects while shopping comes not from years of experience with domestic chores while our menfolk are off hunting for the latest electronics, but from an innate ability to access parallel universes! Of course, this explains why our gender is so underrepresented in engineering and physical science fields – we have been operating under an entirely different set of physical principles! Now that we know that we need to narrow our assumptions to fit only the laws of reality (now called ?manspace?), we expect this gender gap to disappear shortly.

    In all seriousness, as female graduate students in science, we are disturbed that the world's leading scientific journal would choose to publish a piece – even a 'tongue-in-cheek' science fiction story – that promulgates such nonsensical Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus ideas. Although this story was intended to be humorous, a quick reading identifies the following notions, which are hard to laugh off: (1) routine domestic duties involve mysterious rites known only to women; (2) only men can be reliable observers who make scientific discoveries; (3) it is naturally a woman's business to worry about domestic issues (making supper, organizing childrens' clothes) while the men concern themselves with higher matters (writing a book on virus structure). This story reflects the pernicious thinking that biology 'naturally' limits women?s success at the highest levels of government, business, and science. Nature should be setting an example by not literally alienating women, but instead encouraging the dissolution of the last bastions of 'manspace'.

    Ylaine Gerardin and Tami Lieberman

    This letter was sent to Nature Correspondence on October 3rd 2011

  7. Report this comment #28396

    Anna-Lise Wiliamson said:

    As Ed Rybicki?s wife and a Professor of Medical Virology and Vaccinology, I regarded the ?tongue in cheek? story as a compliment. Ed is hopeless at finding things and has no illusion that he able to multitask but regularly looks after children and cooks supper in our household!

    Anna-Lise Williamson

  8. Report this comment #28481

    Ed Rybicki said:

    Gee, you had to go trawling, didn't you??!!

    I suppose you expected the sorts of comments we got, because I didn't: I thought the premise of the story – two rather hopeless middle-aged men finding reasons for not being able to find girls' knickers (we really couldn't, you know), would have shone through – and illuminated the fact that many men really are hopeless in this regard.

    But reading "...as if all Nature readers (or maybe all scientists?) were aged men with housewives at home" as a criticism, comes from out of nowhere, as far as I am concerned – or possibly, from an alternate universe only the critic could enter.

    Where was this enunciated / stated / written / implied? Not in my story – and my problem with literary or other criticism of stories by living authors is that before you go implying motives to them, you could ASK them what they meant. And I didn't mean what you think I mean. I think...?

    The story is about two rather hopeless middle-aged men, who like Jethro Tull and electronics, who couldn't find knickers, and engaged in thought experiments to determine why not. That part is true. The scorn of the actual astrophysicist wife (not a housewife, and a real-life colleague of a Nobel laureate) was also real. The fiction comes in a light-hearted account of why we couldn't find the knickers – and incidentally, credits the survival of the whole human race to the abilities I posited. Which are probably not shared by all women – one colleague wrote "Help! I married a man!!" on reading the story – and probably are shared by a number of men. Some women are also considerably better than others: a colleague (high-ranked and female) expressed envy about how certain of her friends can access factory shops selling things she likes at prices far below she can ever find. And so it goes....

    As you may have noticed, my own (better-paid) professional wife thought it was funny. So too have a number of other senior female professional colleagues – and their female grad students (thanks, Acting Dean Brenda W!).

    Accordingly, I think I will carry on being happy with my story. And attempt to use it to garner publication subsidy, seeing as not only has it been published in Nature, it has also attracted substantial post-hoc peer review.

  9. Report this comment #28486

    Therese Jones said:

    Your article not only conforms to incredibly sexist stereotypes that women in science face, but has no scientific merit on its own regardless, and is certainly not an antidote worthy of publication of a major journal. While your own personal fan club may find your story amusing, in publication you speak to a much wider audience, and your writing is seen as representative of a much larger population, and thus is alienating to many. In my field, the decisions of the Nature Editors have long been in question, but agreeing to publish this article only further promotes the idea that Nature's review process is greatly flawed.

    Claiming some women you know find your story funny is by no means a way of justifying the political correctness of your article-- science/gender research has long shown that in groups where females are in the significant minority women themselves can become oppressors, as they feel superior for having been able to fight their way through to the top (and may very well believe in the stereotypes which they've been fighting against). Throwing in the colleague of a Nobel Laureate card is quite impressive-- everyone in astrophysics is a colleague of a "real-life Nobel Laureate", or at most one degree of separation from being one.

  10. Report this comment #28545

    Pieter van Dokkum said:

    What this story highlights is the issue of unintentional, subconscious bias, which is something that our community has to come to grips with. As is clear from his comment the author sees himself as supportive of women scientists, and merely intended to illustrate his own helplessness in the face of everyday obstacles. However, the story places women and men in fundamentally different categories: women are well-organized and domestically-oriented whereas men are useless in everyday life but come up with theories about the universe. It is this subconscious categorization which hurts women when they are climbing the academic ladder. I believe that men on search committees generally do not see themselves as biased, but that many men have subconscious notions about women which impact their chances of getting hired.

    Things are better for female scientists than they were a few decades ago, as the overt sexism of the past is slowly dying out. Unfortunately subconscious biases still exist, as illustrated by this story. I am somewhat hopeful that these biases can be remedied, precisely because they are unintentional; it may help, for instance, to discuss these issues on search committees prior to interviewing candidates.

  11. Report this comment #28955

    Katrina Stein said:

    I have an incredibly similar theory to that of womenspace – I haven't come up with a good name for it yet but it has to do with my husband's (who is a person of color) uncanny ability for procuring bicycles for our children.

    The other day my husband asked me to go bicycle shopping for our daughter as she has outgrown her previous bicycle. I spent hours of much deliberation shopping at various bicycle shops, but could not find any that would suffice. This probably has something to do with the fact that my husband is genetically predisposed and culturally inclined toward obtaining bicycles with greater ease than I could as a white woman. Every time I ask my husband to go shopping for bicycles, he disappears for lengthy periods of time and somehow reappears with not only the coveted bicycle, but other miscellaneous items as well, which I have no use for. In conclusion, I would suggest that my African-American husband is also journeying to the proverbial "womenspace" to obtain bicycles.

    My husband is an upstanding member of the NAACP and I have various African-American friends who think my theory is funny and true. Therefore we can extend the concept of womenspace to include people of color. If you think my comment is racist (as racism is against the Community Guidelines of Nature), I would like to point out that my theory is directly related to the article and oversteps no boundaries that the article did not. I hope that Nature holds its authors to the same standards as it does those who write comments.

  12. Report this comment #30346

    Ed Rybicki said:

    Katrina: it's quite simple – your husband enters "Gadgetspace". Where we men can disappear for hours. The problem is, we don't get to buy as much there...B-(

  13. Report this comment #30446

    Kate Clancy said:

    Really, Nature?

    Pieter already said what I would have said: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v477/n7366/full/477626a.html#comment-28545

    "However, the story places women and men in fundamentally different categories: women are well-organized and domestically-oriented whereas men are useless in everyday life but come up with theories about the universe."

    I'm so appalled that I barely have the words to articulate everything wrong with this piece. And technically I'm employed by Nature as I write for Scientific American. This does not bode well for how much longer I'll be writing for SciAm. At all.

  14. Report this comment #30464

    Dr. Isis said:

    Henry Gees says, "I'm amazed we haven't had any outraged comments about this story."

    Yeah, that's because most of us don't really read Nature.

  15. Report this comment #30478

    Christie Wilcox said:

    Hm... I seem to be missing something, Clara: during what part of Ed's post did he cite relevant literature to support his stereotypes? What study has shown that women are shoppers while men are physicists? The point is, this "humorous" article is sexist and completely unscientific. It should never have been published in an esteemed scientific journal.

    Blog: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/nerdychristie

  16. Report this comment #30486

    Anne Jefferson said:

    ?Womanspace? by Ed Rybicki is the most appalling thing I have ever read in a scientific journal. The story hearkens back to the ?good old? sexist days when men did important things (like write books about virology) and women did unimportant things (like keep their families fed and clothed); when men couldn?t be bothered to be useful around the house and even when women did manage to get science degrees they were better employed as cooks and errand runners. The writer makes the explicit assumption that all of his (and, thus Nature?s) readers are male and have a ?significant female other? who helps with their shopping. The story uses a cliched trope that women have an alternate reality, but then adds the extra punch that we aren?t even smart or observant enough to know it. As a woman scientist reading this article, it seems in every way designed to make me feel othered and excluded from the scientific academy.

    It?s one thing to write a not-very-funny witty story full of sexism and gender stereotypes, but it?s a completely different thing to publish it with the stamp of approval of one of the world?s leading scientific publications. Maybe the writer is really privileged and clueless enough not to have intended this as an effort to put women in their place, but it?s not plausible that the Nature editorial staff were blind to the way this piece would be perceived. Besides, the evidence suggests that both the writer and Nature?s Futures editor were fully aware that they were courting controversy and perhaps were even doing so intentionally. When the piece was published, the author tweeted ?I WILL catch flak for this? and four days later Henry Gee (who claims to be the editor of this section) commented: ?I?m amazed we haven?t had any outraged comments about this story.? The outrage did come, and the majority of comments posted on Nature?s website have been highly critical. This week, Nature published two of the comments as correspondence in their current issue, which is how this story caught my attention. I don?t want to read fiction in my scientific journals, but I do pay attention to letters with titles of ?Women: Sexist fiction is alienating? and ?Women: Latent bias harms careers.?

    So far I have seen no other response from Nature Publishing Group, on what in my opinion is an atrocious decision to give a broader platform to the author?s sexist views. The Careers section of Nature routinely has articles about the challenges faced by women scientists, maybe now they can write an expose on their own organization? Better yet, Nature should print an apology for the piece and seriously review their practice of approving Futures articles for publication.


  17. Report this comment #30487

    Jill Schneider said:

    There is no question that this blatantly sexist post has no place in a science journal, although the author may not be a sexist person. The intention is humor, the result is exclusion, in the sense that in order to feel a sense of amusement, many readers will have to deny the reality of their own experience. In the article "Womanspace" he writes, "Have you never had the experience of talking to your significant female other as you ..?" My answer, is, "No, because I am a woman married to a man. Why is the author assuming that I am a man? Or is he assuming I am woman with a female significant other? I am a full professor in a science department reading a scientific journal. Why is he writing to me and other the readers of this journal as if they all have a significant female other?" This is a quintessential example of exclusion. To be inclusive and to avoid marginalizing heterosexual female readers, it is necessary to actually address women as if they exist, as if they will be reading a scientific journal, as if they will be reading the article you are publishing in Nature. It's possible to be humorous and "tongue-in-cheek" while modeling scientific thought. Why not challenge your own assumptions? For example, in the absence of data, why not be open to the possibility that many women (like me) hate to shop, or are quite efficient shoppers? I think the author grossly underestimates the competition he has from males who can access a parallel universe, i.e., they have the hippocampal heft to navigate the local mall. The editors of Nature are underestimating the passage of time since the 1950s.

  18. Report this comment #30505

    Duncan Wright said:

    While concerns about the exclusion or marginalisation of women, or indeed any other demographic, are legitimate and should not be trivialised, those concerns have no place here. I fully defend both Ed?s writing of, and Henry?s selection of this story for publication. It is readily apparent that the Futures section is one of fiction, distinct from the peer-reviewed research articles published elsewhere in Nature. To anyone unable to make this distinction, full professor or not, I would suggest they have more pressing problems than imagined sexism. Futures publishes fiction from a wide demographic, on myriad themes from diverse viewpoints. I myself am unable to relate to the main character as he muses on speaking to his absent significant female other, as I am also unable to relate to absorbing the memories of others, being blacklisted for being human, or being a Malay country singer, all aspects of stories recently published in Futures. When we demand that works of fiction are inoffensive to all, we find ourselves on very dangerous ground.

  19. Report this comment #30507

    Paul Anderson said:

    Dear Mr Gee

    I had to create an account on this site in order to comment. As part of that process, I had to accept your terms and conditions. These include:

    1.You must not submit any material to the Site which... is inappropriate. Material will be considered in appropriate if that material is...defamatory, abusive, malicious, threatening, false, misleading, offensive, discriminatory, harassing, blasphemous, racist or *sexist*;

    So, had this "story" been a comment to the site, it would have violated your own terms and conditions and wouldn't be allowed. So why publish it?

    As a writer myself, I can tell you that this isn't a good story. It reads like a poor, 20-second stand up routine padded out with the tropes of fiction. As an editor, I wouldn't have even bothered to edit it, I would have passed on it. As a publisher, this would never have seen the light of day, either on a printing press or on a website, and I would be wary of anything the writer submitted in future.

    Clearly this was published in order to be controversial. As a cynical attempt to drive traffic to your site, I hope this backfires spectacularly. Perhaps your advertisers may wish to consider if they want to continue being associated with this type of sexism? Perhaps your readers will wish to consider being customers of advertisers happy to be associated with sexism? Perhaps you won't have many readers after this.

    Finally Mr Gee, since Nature seems not to be discriminating about what fiction it publishes, I have three stories of my own you might wish to consider publishing in future issues of Nature:

    • Gayspace (a hilarious tale of how gay people access parallel dimensions to look fabulous)
    • Blackspace (a hilarious tale of how black people access parallel dimensions to be fast sprinters)
    • Jewspace (a hilarious tale of how Jewish people access parallel dimensions to save money)

    Or maybe you'd have the sense not to publish these. Because they are offensive, and based on stereotypes. And you'd be right.

    It is a pity that you and the other editors of Nature seem incapable of demonstrating that same level of decency towards half the global population.


  20. Report this comment #30526

    Oscar Mesones Lapouble said:

    I can't believe that this has been published on Nature.

  21. Report this comment #30533

    Sean Davidson said:

    This really is an embarrassingly bad story, something that passed through a wormhole from the 1950s perhaps? I fail to see how this story falls under the self-defined remit of Nature Futures to publish "hard" science fiction. Henry Gee I'm disappointed by your fallen editorial standards. What were you thinking? Was it published as a deliberate taunt? It might have been politely ignored to quietly gather dust in neglected backwaters of the internet if Nature hadn't then seen fit to draw attention to it in an apparently deliberate ploy to attract controversy.
    To clarify: the implied defense that "it's just a story", "we published articles criticisizing it for balance", or "well, some people liked it", is extremely poor. "Some people" liked Apartheid.
    Having a culturally defined "inability to find knickers" - or to understand sexism – does not make it humorous.

  22. Report this comment #30535

    Derek Houston said:

    Paul and Sean, I think you hit the nail on the head: Henry Gee let the sub-par piece of antiquated man-humor through to draw attention. I detect disappointment in his comment (4th from the top): "I'm amazed we haven't had any outraged comments about this story."

  23. Report this comment #30553

    Ali Kerwein said:

    What is wrong with you, Nature? Are you even serious? How did this get published? Who made the decision to okay this? I'm sorry, but however "tongue-and-cheek" this parochial drivel was meant to be, it's clearly inappropriate. Nature, you absolutely cannot endorse this. Stand for something, please.

    Author: I don't care if you don't understand why this is offensive. The point is the editors should have known better.

    *Commenters, we need to organize an online campaign to get the name of the editor that decided to okay this, get an official apology, and remove this slop.*

    I am so disappointed. I admired this publication so much, and now I feel completely disgusted.

    Thanks a lot, Nature, for helping me feel comfortable in my discipline. I face challenges in my classes, with my professors, with my research, in a male-biased system, and after my hard work to produce quality work, when I feel proud to be a woman scientist, in one of the most prominent science publications in the world, I am characterized as being interested in milk and bread, a mop, some sauces and a new pair of shoes.

    Thanks, Nature. Wow.

    --A female scientist

  24. Report this comment #30557

    Amos Zeeberg said:

    Agree with other commenters that by propagating outdated and constrictive ideas about gender roles, this kind of talk makes women feel excluded and hinders their progress in science careers. It's not that anything said in the piece is so directly insulting but that it fits into a mindset with a long tradition of excluding women from science (and work, and even public space, in general). Respected individuals and institutions should be especially mindful that they don't reinforce the traditional obstacles to women working in science--that's part of the responsibility that comes with respect.

  25. Report this comment #30561

    Naim Matasci said:

    This piece really has no place in a leading scientific journal. Period.

  26. Report this comment #30627

    Martina Tudor said:

    It was difficult for me to accept this subject being treated this way in a scientific journal. But then I got an inspiration when considering two of my colleagues (a man and a woman). Men as focused hunters might form a theory based on a minimum data-set and support it by limited amount of data and previously published and equally supported theories. Women as gatherers might spend their scientific career in search for data that supports their idea or theory and from time to time exhaust themselves in search of the alternative explanations for the results.
    And in the spirit of this text, it is difficult to explain new results without the data collected from the parallel universe, since our male colleagues are unable to find it ...

  27. Report this comment #30647

    Jennifer Steel said:

    I am a co-author of a recent paper published in Nature Medicine and for many years, through a long scientific career, I have wished that this day would come. The fact that Nature published the above article containing sexist comments (however intended) makes me wonder whether I should have aimed so high. It is surprising that the author didn't actually realise that his article would cause offence, and that is one of the most worrying things about it.
    It also seems very unscientific in its general substance, since the parallel universe that he suggests does not exist (at least in the stereotyped differences between males and females). I'm glad I don't normally read this section of Nature and instead spend most of my time concentrating upon my own research or reading specific articles.
    I know is was intended as tongue in cheek but it was in poor taste.

  28. Report this comment #30648

    Tim Appenzeller said:

    Nature published two letters in this week?s issue
    that eloquently summarize many of the points made in this forum.

  29. Report this comment #30649

    Claudia Mengelt said:

    Dear Editor,
    I agree with so many comments above expressing shock and discontent that one of the leading science journals would publish such inappropriate and gender biased text. It clearly demonstrates the lack of sensitivity. At my current position, I go through yearly training to ensure that as a supervisor I know how to spot and prevent sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. I highly recommend that Nature (if it?s not already done as standard practice) makes such training mandatory for its editorial board and staff. If such practice had been applied, this article would not have been published.
    I would like to thank Pieter van Dokkum for the comments that I believe precisely summarize the challenge we face today: eradicating the subconscious bias that hurts women?s ability to advance in academia. This is far more challenging simply because those (men and women) perpetuating these stereotypes can?t change their behavior unless their colleagues point out the issues and have a frank conversation how it might hurt colleagues around them. I share Pieter?s hope that we can change this, too, through honest discussions on search committees (for example) and through mandatory training in our academic institutions and on editorial boards.

  30. Report this comment #30658

    Yasu Min said:

    Obviously, there are many people who take life far too seriously. I, for one, am a university student, a woman, and am in no means any good with the domestic parts of life. I found this to be hilarious and a nice spot of fun. The author has clearly stated he wasn't being sexist, so I don't understand why you have to accuse him of such things. It's not like analysing a piece of work from a hundred years back, by an author that is deceased, and being unable to find out what was truly meant by it. He's alive and well and it was written for a bit of fun. My mum has always been able to find things that I, or the rest of my family, could not. She's a professor at university, holds a Ph.D, has published loads of things in her field and she finds this to be most entertaining.So she's both a domestic queen and is also well educated in scientific matters.
    So, my opinion is to get off your high horses and stop taking such things to heart. It's just a bit of fun and I enjoyed it very much, made my morning just a bit better.

  31. Report this comment #30661

    October Surprise said:

    I have lost all respect for this journal and will be directing my academic friends and acquaintances to this article. I want all of my academically minded friends to know how backwards and stupid Nature has become.

    Your editorial staff should be fired. Honestly. This article does not cite a single source, speaks from anecdote and speaks from a perspective that all scientists are men with wives.

    I am not mad, I am just disappointed.

  32. Report this comment #30662

    Daniel Look said:

    Claiming one isn't sexist does not excuse all following language from scrutiny. It has been my experience that individuals feeling the need to state "I am not sexist" are aware that what they are saying next skirts a line of acceptable language and needs to be worded carefully and with an eye towards those who would mis-interpret. This is echoed by editor Henry Gee's comment: I'm amazed we haven't had any outraged comments about this story.

    I do not know the author, and this is most likely intended as a good-natured story about his ineptness in certain regards where his wife excels. However, there are too many stereotypical comments that replay old sexist lines for my taste.

    It being intended to be fun doesn't defend this piece to me. How many hurtful jokes at the expense of a particular race/gender were meant to be fun? All of them. Does that always mean those offended should lighten up? I should hope not.

    I am sure this piece would make a fine story at a dinner party attended by his friends, told to his male counterparts while their wives prepare supper in the kitchen. Should it be publicly told with lack of context and author familiarity? I don't think so.

  33. Report this comment #30664

    Dylan Domaille said:

    On closer inspection, I can see why the authors chose to publish this theory in Nature. I look forward to the inevitable future publication that argues the difference between how men and women shop is not of biological origin but rather arises from environmental pressures. This theory, of course, will be published in Nurture.

  34. Report this comment #30665

    Tam Frager said:

    I understand that one of the points of this piece was humor, and that humor, by its very nature, often targets groups of people rather than individuals. But it's in targeting groups that it becomes a problem. As others have pointed out, if this piece had talked about a specific race or religion that was better at something, the -ism would have been obvious. Somehow, because it was about women being inherently better at domestic chores and shopping than men, the sexism was acceptable.

    It doesn't matter whether I'm particularly domestic (I'm not) or good at shopping (I hate it), what matters is that this takes half the population and puts them into an "other" category. It doesn't help that the task these others are good at is shopping – something generally regarded as unimportant. It also doesn't matter whether the author meant it to be offensive or that his wife didn't take offense. What an author means doesn't matter to the audience reading it; what matters is how it comes across. To a large part of your audience, this came across as sexist, as a bad publishing decision made in poor taste.

    And so I make this offer: I have ample editing experience and have worked with scientists to prepare their writings for publication. I also have studied intercultural and interpersonal communication; I have a good eye for which stories are likely to be seen as perpetuating an -ism like this. Hire me. I can help keep you from making this sort of bad decision.

    Yes, I understand that you're getting lots of publicity because of this story and that Mr. Gee published it, at least in part, to be controversial (his early surprise at the lack of outrage shows that), but at what price? When you marginalize your readers you do no good for anyone.

  35. Report this comment #30667

    eric lubarsky said:

    I agree whole-heartedly with many of the comments that point out how this simplistic thinking belittles women. However, I'd like to point an equally problematic position. The authors of this article continuously belittle men as well. We're expected to have sympathy for two middle aged men who cannot accomplish the simple task of taking their daughter to the store to buy knickers? What's more we're supposed to be CHARMED by the fact that to cover up their idiocy they can invent an extremely elaborate story involving inter-dimensional travel and gender difference? Of course we are, because smart men can be bumbling professors. Even the retail clerk seemed to buy into this obnoxious stereotype, according to these narrators.
    The problems with this are many. First women do not get the privileged of being bumbling; sure they benefit from other kinds of gendered favoritism, but it normally accompanies a decrease in pay and prestige. Second, this kind of leniency only perpetuates these male stereotypes.
    The moral of this story is not so much how this fable of womanly inter-dimensional travel hurts women. Instead, we have an example of two men given a simple task that they did not know how to accomplish. They decided not to ask for help in any timely manner and they failed at their task. Instead of learning from that mistake, they hoped to charm their way out of it with an elaborate story published for the ENTIRE WORLD to see on the internet. If the is any kind of sympathy to be had for these authors, it's this: How heinous are the requirements on these men to take them to such length to cover up their shortcomings?

  36. Report this comment #30668

    Lizzie Anderson said:

    Ok, what do we need to do to get Henry Gee out? If it takes 100 signatures on a petition, I will find 100 people, if it takes 1000 people I will find 1000 people. Get him out now. Appalled at nature, ashamed that i've ever bought or subscribed to it and very very angry.

  37. Report this comment #30673

    Laura Meredith said:

    I'm sure Nature could have found a better sci-fi story to publish; something interesting, imaginative, or even funny. This piece is none of those, so the motives for Nature to publish a red-flag piece like this are suspicious.

    I'm appalled and unimpressed by the actions of this journal, which only makes the open-access options seem more attractive to this young scientist.

  38. Report this comment #30675

    Vegard Farstad said:

    Paul Anderson said on 2011-11-17 04:18 AM

    Dear Mr Gee I had to create an account on this site in order to comment. As part of that process, I had to accept your terms and conditions.

    After reading all the comments and weighing back and forth I did the same. Thus I have complied with the second sentence of
    Guideline 7 :
    *Contribute new information to the discussion*
    Add a unique perspective, a constructive argument, a thoughtful question or new information. Read the comments in a discussion thread before posting your own so you don't repeat what's already been said. If you find factual errors, politely point them out and explain why you believe that the statements are wrong.

    In order to comply with the first sentence, I will add my few cents to the debate. First of all, I had a weird feeling that this whole article and comments reminded me of the song Raspberry beret by the Artist previously known as Prince. Say what you will about the contents, but one thing is clear. Those lyrics don't belong in Nature

    And as several previous commentators have pointed out, neither does this article.

    While contemplating what to do about such ... (like Lena Fant I am searching for words) ... "tone deaf" or "blind" are metaphors which have their own weaknesses in propagating stereotypes, and yet other words I am tempted to use would probably cause my comment to be deleted (and perhaps cause worse sanctions too) according to
    Guideline 9 :
    *No libel or other abuse*

    You must not make or encourage comments which are:

    _ defamatory, false or misleading;_
    _ insulting, threatening or abusive;_
    _ obscene or of a sexual nature;_
    _ offensive, racist, sexist, homophobic or discriminatory against any religions or other groups._

    Wait a minute. Paul Anderson already pointed this out: The article itself breaks that very same guideline. And there is more: Nature does not provide a link for reporting articles the same we we are allowed to report comments.

    So, again, what then to do about such... such... (insert your own expletive)?

    Lizzie Anderson mentions a petition. I don't know how to organize that faster and with less work than making a Facebook group. So I looked for one started by Lizzie and I couldn't find it. That left me with only one option:

    Please join the new facebook group Petition on Nature Womanspace article by Ed Rybicki, NPG editor Henry Gee

  39. Report this comment #30715

    KG 1729 said:

    I guess in a future issue we can expect a "story" by a white physicist illustrating the "fact" that black people have a wonderful sense of rhythm.

  40. Report this comment #30717

    Peter Welch said:

    I would look forward to an article on Humorlessspace, in which ostensibly educated people project their personal issues inward and they mysteriously show up as righteous rambling on websites.

  41. Report this comment #30719

    Tasha Chapman said:

    @Yasu Min – I'm not a racist but Asians are clearly horrible drivers...

  42. Report this comment #30722

    Ceci Bee said:

    Goodness. I just created an account for the sole purpose of giving a modicum of positive feedback; I have to admit it, but I feel sorry for the author (and not just because I'm a woman!). I read this because a friend linked to it with a decidedly negative comment. We are both females with backgrounds in science (life sciences, in particular), but I found it funny. While I respect the arguments that question this story's placement in a scholarly journal, I believe this is part of a general push to include more light content in even the most serious publications to appeal to a wider range of readers, as well as a cultural "loosening-up," if you will, regarding strict adherence to seriousness in certain scholarly and scientific settings. Whether these are beneficial is debatable, but that is not the current debate.

    If the author was unintentionally reinforcing negative stereotypes about women, he was reinforcing a similar number of equally negative ones about men. Are they clueless when it comes to shopping for clothing, particularly for the opposite gender (which apparently is a market women have cornered)? Should I conclude that men do not pay attention at all while shopping, since they are selfishly considering their next electronic purchase or their supremely important business venture while their virtuous and self-sacrificing wives knowingly consider the needs of the entire family? Do men have such problems locating items that it takes a woman to fix their hopeless wandering and set them on the right track? I should say not; we are all simply humans with our own strengths and weaknesses. While a reader could draw those beforementioned ridiculous conclusions, I doubt maligning any particular gender was on his agenda. Not all stereotypes are so emotionally charged that they cannot be used to generate humor, but every joke will find a detractor. If you want to accuse him of insensitivity, call it naivete. I will grudgingly admit that some of the offenses against women in science were recent enough that it is not entirely preposterous to not assume that people will automatically recognize that the notion of a male intending to publicly and seriously insult females' capabilities in the name of science is unlikely in a scholarly forum.

  43. Report this comment #30725

    Vanda Zwick said:

    I agree with @Ceci Bee

    I'd like to point out one little thing – this isn't an article we're speaking about – it is a science-fiction story. As of which, it does not need any scientific merit whatsoever, despise of the word "science" in the name of the gender of literature. It is merely a name used to differentiate this type of stories to others, say, fantasy or fairy-tales. Also, although it was published in a science magazine, it was under the "science-fiction story" part and did not, in any way, tried to pass of as science. What is the big fuss about?

  44. Report this comment #30726

    Lyle Skains said:

    "What's the fuss about?" Really?

    Just because it's a "fiction" story, doesn't mean we still shouldn't pay attention to elements of the attitudes within (which are sexist in both directions). Literature is one of the strongest cultural influences we have: it is a way of sharing and propagating cultural values and norms, much the same as religion (and you can view religion as a form of literature and story-sharing, really). Genre makes no difference – in fact, it is often in the maligned genres of science fiction and even fantasy that we find the most powerful reflections on our culture (1984, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, The Handmaid's Tale...).

    As a writer, and a woman, I'd echo Paul Anderson's note that as a piece of fiction, it doesn't really compare with what we expect from truly publishable science fiction: a reflection on and of our society. It's not even funny, which seems to be the argument most of its defenders are pushing forth. Yes, humor is subjective; I have to wonder, then, why there are educated people who find these sexist stereotypes funny enough to be acceptable in a supposedly esteemed publication such as this in 2011 (as opposed to, say, 1950).

    Intent means nothing, as others have pointed out. Tracy Morgan thought he was making a joke when he said he'd stab his son if he turned out to be homosexual; how'd that turn out? Just because the medium of the internet now allows authors to defend their work doesn't excuse the message of the text itself. You can't discount readers' interpretations of the text (and clearly, more readers than a throwaway-few read it as offensive) simply because that "wasn't what you meant". And as I tell all my first year creative writing students, just because your wife/mom/mates thing your work is great, that doesn't mean it actually is.

  45. Report this comment #30757

    MaryAnn Johanson said:

    People! Clearly, you are all missing the point.

    Obviously, the story is about how men are utterly unqualified to be scientists. If men are such terrible observers of their surroundings as to be looking for girls' knickers in the frozen-fish section, and are unable to find the store directory that points them toward Children's Clothing, they are de facto unable to perform the most basic requirements of science.

    What's more, the story's very presence on this web site suggests, men are proud of their lack of observation skills, and of the very basic sort of common sense that any scientist should be operating under.

    I look forward to Nature refusing to accept any work from male scientists — and refusing to countenance any work by male scientists — unless or until it has been vetted by clearly more competent and organized female scientists.

    We should applaud the author's courage in outing male ineptitude so baldly.

    I, for one, welcome our new female overlords.

  46. Report this comment #30761

    Marnie M said:

    Dear author,
    I know it's hard not to be defensive, especially when someone accuses you of writing something that sounds sexist, but whatever you believe your intention to be, the onus i on you, the writer, to communicate that well, not on us to know what you mean. You may not have intended your article to sound like it was written only for straight men. You may not have intended to imply that shopping is "women's work." You may have considered it amusing to make generalizations about women and men, but you must also take responsibility for how these choices impact women AND men in the scientific community and how poorly it reflects on you and the publication you published this in.

    Beyond that, this article is an homage to bad scientific thinking. "I'm a man, I'm bad at domestic shopping, other men I know are bad at domestic shopping, therefore, men are bad at domestic shopping." Correlation isn't causation. Even if it were true, your opening theory that men set a goal for shopping, complete it and are done, flies in the face of the evidence you present, namely that you were given a task to buy one item, spent all day wandering around stores you found more appealing and failed to achieve your single goal.

    And while it was clearly tongue in cheek, coming up with an explanation that requires women access an alternate reality to do something you struggle with, not only reads as sexist (it's hard for me, she must use MAGIC to do it) but on has to wonder if you are familiar with Occam's razor. Did it occur to you that things you don?t do regularly come less easily than tasks you do on a weekly or daily basis?

    Perhaps, since you are unemployed, you could make it a goal to start doing more of the chores your scientist wife seems to manage on top of the work she does at her job. I bet you'll find you are better at them when you do them regularly instead of treating them like a novel distraction.

  47. Report this comment #30763

    K. M. said:

    It astounds me that a supposedly reputable scientific publication would publish such a blatantly offensive and sexist piece of writing, even in the name of humor. Congratulations, Mr. Rybicki. You have done possibly irreparable damage to the reputation of this organization. Until there is a formal apology, both from you and Nature, don't expect me to respect anything that comes from this site again.

  48. Report this comment #30878

    A B said:

    Speaking about parallel universes, this text seems to come from one where it's still 1960.

  49. Report this comment #30884

    Nicholas Bauer said:

    Overreaction to harmless use of stereotypes where everyone recognizes that a stereotype is being used is nearly as bad as the actually damaging use of stereotypes where the stereotype is assumed to be the truth about all members of the group being stereotyped.

    The problem for trying to destroy all stereotypes is that there is often a kernel of truth to them, whether we want to admit it or not. And of course we have to recognize that group averages cannot be applied to individual members of the group, and that individual behavior does not necessarily imply that all members of the group share said behavior.

  50. Report this comment #30914

    Papercut Exit said:

    Wow. Just... wow. Does anyone at Nature actually read these stories before they are published?

    Yes, we all understand that this is supposed to be tongue in cheek, but seriously – this is Nature and not a satire magazine. You can't just write (unintentionally) offensive articles and expect that to be okay because it's supposed to be funny.

  51. Report this comment #30920

    Hannah Wray said:

    I am saddened to see a story like this published in Nature, a journal I respect and admire, in 2011. I had expected better of the editorial team than to let through something like this, and would ask them to at the least issue an apology to the people they have offended. Others have already spoken against it more eloquently than I could, but I just wanted to add my voice, as a female student of STEM who reads Nature. This is not acceptable. What was worst wasn't the sexism and laboured stereotypes in the article. The worst thing was that it acted as if I, and people like me, did not exist. The readers of Nature are not just straight white men who appreciate boys' club humour. Some of the readers are female, like me, and many have to deal with genuine sexism and bias in their everyday lives that is made worse by articles like this. People who excuse the author and editors by pretending not to understand, or saying 'it's only a joke' or, 'well, I find it funny!' are exactly analogous to the people who make racist or homophobic jokes. It doesn't matter what your intention was, if the group of less-privileged people who are the butt of your joke say they don't appreciate it and it isn't amusing to them, apologise and don't make the joke again. Your humour should not be at the expense of isolating and offending members of this community.

  52. Report this comment #30931

    Ben Fenton said:

    Okay, so the breakdown is that women are all one monolithic being that adheres to the stereotypes put forth by men who don't know anything about them. While the author expresses total ignorance of anthropological science via "men are hunters, women are gatherers" nonsense, he simultaneously makes it clear that this ignorance is only matched by his contempt for women.

    Now the real question: what is this low-quality, unrelated-to-actual-science piece doing in a science journal? Can anyone with a degree now scribble some nasty words down and submit it to Nature? Did the author get paid for this? I have a whole bunch of stuff I wrote when I was in grade school that would fit right in with this piece.

  53. Report this comment #30986

    Nicholas Bauer said:

    Would it have changed things if the author not only posited that this happened in an parallel universe, but that these were aliens instead? If, instead of mean and women, he said glebelglorps and fizzlewerdies? And changed gathering and hunting for ginderhuffing and brinderdoodling?

    And did everyone manage to miss how at the end of the story, their wives left them? It's a tale in absurdity.

  54. Report this comment #31019

    Stefania Kightley said:

    Wow!! I can't believe there are actually people out there that consider this sexist? It's a story about two hopeless males! How did you manage to turn it around into something that is against women? If anything it's making fun of men and their incapacity to do much at all. Turning the story around and saying that it is attacking you and other women alike is selfish and unnecessary.

  55. Report this comment #31086

    Eli Rabett said:

    This was worse than an error, it was a blunder of such significant seriousness that the editor, Henry Gee, should either retire, or better, be fired. His actions have significantly damaged the reputation of the magazine, and, given that the material was absolutely inappropriate and that he has a back story which should have steered him away from this material, there are no excuses. Paternoism is not a welcome nor reassuring sight

  56. Report this comment #31141

    Ed Rybicki said:

    @Tami Lieberman, seeing as you felt strongly enough that you wrote to Nature:
    "Although this story was intended to be humorous, a quick reading identifies the following notions, which are hard to laugh off: (1) routine domestic duties involve mysterious rites known only to women;
    Ummmmmmm...no, nowhere hinted. Read "Tale of a Story" for some clarity here (http://edrybicki.wordspace.com/2011/11/21/tale-of-a-story/)
    (2) only men can be reliable observers who make scientific discoveries;
    Also – nowhere stated; what I implied here was that only men could make this discovery – because women were the subject under discussion, who needed to be observed. For the sake of a story.
    (3) it is naturally a woman's business to worry about domestic issues (making supper, organizing childrens' clothes) while the men concern themselves with higher matters (writing a book on virus structure).
    Also, not stated, and not in fact hinted at. "Astrophysics-trained wife" didn't give you a clue? Again, go read "Tale of a Story". Actually, if I wrote Womanspace again, I'd change two things: I'd replace "astrophysics-trained" with "astrophysicist", and I'd add "househusband".
    This story reflects the pernicious thinking that biology 'naturally' limits women?s success at the highest levels of government, business, and science.
    If you take it to reflect that, then you have no idea who I am – or what I meant. And I have to say I'm sorry about that.
    @Nicholas Bauer: exactly. Hapless men, who stuffed it up for everybody
    @Stephanie Kightley:pretty much...B-)

  57. Report this comment #31142

    Ed Rybicki said:

    @Ben Fenton:
    "Did the author get paid for this?"


    "I have a whole bunch of stuff I wrote when I was in grade school that would fit right in with this piece. "

    Go for it. So do I...B-)

    @Stefania K: Stefania. Sorry!

  58. Report this comment #31172

    Ed Rybicki said:

    @Marnie M:
    "Perhaps, since you are unemployed, you could make it a goal to start doing more of the chores your scientist wife seems to manage on top of the work she does at her job. I bet you'll find you are better at them when you do them regularly instead of treating them like a novel distraction. "

    I am actually in full-time employ – the word "unemployed" was used to indicate we weren't doing anything right then – except to get in the way, which is why we were sent out.

    And I'm not sure if you actually read the story – it's not MY wife in the kitchen. You are also assuming facts definitely not in evidence if you think I don't do chores. I have just come back from the shops, in fact, where I found a VERY nice new cleaning liquid and a budget chicken pack. As well as a selection of salad ingredients (which I will use).

    But that wouldn't fit your stereotype.

  59. Report this comment #31213

    Marnie M said:

    @Ed Rybicki I apologize for confusing your choice of words. Perhaps it's a regional difference. In the states, I have not heard "unemployed" used that way, however, I would be careful of admonishing my reading skills when you are overlooking my and many other people's concerns, while latching on to the few supporters. You, as a scientist (admittedly, I am not one) probably recognize that as confirmation bias. Consider these comments the peer review process and people are mentioning some flaws in your reasoning.

    Regardless of your qualifying statements here in the comments and your intentions and true views, your story comes across as sexist. I don't believe that — in and of itself — makes you a sexist person. I think all of us have heard the riddle about the boy and his dad getting into a car accident and the surgeon proclaiming "I cannot treat this boy, he is my son." The reason this riddle confuses a lot of people is that, like it or not, feminist or misogynist, many of us make assumptions about gender roles and race roles at a very subconscious level and while they may be based in aspects of reality (women are more represented amongst those doing domestic duties in a household and men are more represented in science) that doesn't make those roles linked to gender. All of us benefit from recognizing and trying to fight those biases we have. It is as hurtful to men, who are taught they are failures as men if they aren't stoic, strong, science minded, mechanical and sexually assertive, as it is for women who are told they should put domestic values before all else. Again, I do not think you think this way but your story inadvertently bolsters some of these perceived gender roles.

    I don't get the feeling you intend to concede any ground on this topic. I will say, in all honesty, that I think your story had a strong foundation for humor, it was simply your reliance on gender differences that led it astray. It was your — probably unintentional — choice to phrase things as though you were talking to married straight men only that alienated many. It's the idea that shopping and other domestic duties are best handled by women that felt demeaning, not just to women in any role, but to men who daily handle such chores so well. I am doing my best to be constructive in my feedback. I, just like almost everyone out there, have been guilty of biased thinking and I have felt defensive when it's been brought to my intentions. It doesn't make me less of a person to err this way, but it can make me a better person to learn from my mistakes.

  60. Report this comment #33014

    JT Watkins said:

    Wow, me thinks lots of you politically correct uptights don't read much science fiction? I have, all my life; and am comfortable with the idea-bending nature of the genre. It's a great lil story- that, to me, looks at guys' nature, our nature/ways, and foibles, much more than women's. The zinger is indeed the last line: the wimmens left for something better-[ isn't that always a man's fear?] I read a way way diff story than those of you that were offended. Science fiction- successful SF- invokes a reaction: too bad some of you got yer knickers in a knot, lol.

  61. Report this comment #33084

    Kelly McCormick said:

    "we talked to everyone we knew (well, male, obviously) who could be relied on to observe such phenomena ? and slowly, the observations came in."

    I cannot believe I am reading this in a scholarly journal.

  62. Report this comment #33156

    mgg mgg said:

    I am a woman and in science. I am not very homely or domestic and I have mixed feelings about shopping. And I hate stereotypes of any kind. I think this is a funny story and just one person's opinion. It is not a scientific article, but supposed to be fiction. If anything, it is an attempt at humor on why men can't find simple things. I know from experience that men (with or without a PhD) sometimes cannot find simple things and women (with or without a PhD) can find those very simple things. So I do find the author's explanation quite funny. And I cannot understand what all this noise is about. Why did most people get confused that Lilia is Dr.Rybicki's wife when it is clear from the story that she is Russell's wife? And why is there so much anger about Lilia's domestic chores, but very few references about her astro-physics qualification? So are the commentors busy reading things between the lines that they haven't got what is written in the lines? Anyone else think like me?

  63. Report this comment #33241

    Ludmila Popova said:

    Dear Editors and Publishers,

    My former institution paid several thousand of US dollars for a subscription to Nature alone. I had an assumption that this substantial amount of money was spent on valuable scientific content.
    However the publication of the "Womanspace" article (Nature 477, 626, 2011) by Dr. Rybicki, edited by Dr. Gee, showed otherwise.
    Such a blatantly sexist and unscientific piece of writing, insulting to women and men alike, has no place in a reputable scientific journal. I have to admit, I checked my browser's title bar while reading the "Womanspace" thing to make sure I was on nature.com and not on failblog.org

    This paper does not bring any value to readers, instead it forces dozens of scientists to spend their time explaining to the author and editor why this article is inappropriate.I strongly encourage you to consider a discussion on the value this publication brings to the journal, its reputation and hence subscription and advertisement revenue of your business.

  64. Report this comment #33459

    Jean Bettanny said:

    Reading this cute, but subtely condescending article made me feel like I was back in the 1950's reading an article about "women's intuition" in a typical magazine of that era. Would someone please make that feeling go away?

  65. Report this comment #35395

    Mellissa Lynn said:

    I just want to tell Mr. Rybicki that I found the story (not article) to be quite humorous and enjoyable, and thank him for the laughs. While I'm not a scientist, I've been a woman as long as I can remember, and while I'm sure that Womanspace doesn't exist, I rather wish it did...it sounds like a fun place to shop!

    Now, about the comments...well, folks, I'm not a Nature reader, and I had to create an account just to post this comment. But I can tell you that all of the outraged comments are causing the story to be more widely distributed than it would have been if no one had said anything; I found the link to the story on an entertainment website.

    In other words, you've all done a far better job of disseminating the story that Mr. Rybicki ever could have for himself. Well done!

    PS to MaryAnn Johanson: I'm still laughing at the female overlord comment! (And I bet Ken Jennings would be too.)

  66. Report this comment #35731

    Ray Froggatt said:

    Oh really, has no-one here ever entered manspace in a large DIY warehouse? where its apparently obvious that handles are the other side of electric drills and useful wood strips are near the doors? or where duck tape might be?? where men vanish off to mooch etc etc and they all look so much alike that I nearly took the wrong bearded 50-something in a blue fleece home? I've refused to go with him in future unless has got mobile switched on so we can be reunited...

  67. Report this comment #36743

    Keegi Kusagil said:

    I'm a little confused here. Is this the very same "Womanspace" the feminists are so berserk about? I thought it would be something seriously antifeminist, but this... How oppressive must be a society where an innocent text like this draws such fury? Where I come from (Eastern part of EU), it would get a few grins (from both men and women) and be rather quickly forgotten.

  68. Report this comment #67779

    john rehta said:

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  69. Report this comment #67781

    mobdro123pc khan said:

    Keeping this things in mind might change our views towards this point. This need to be kept in mind at all time. Snapchat Trophies Awesome

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