Sexist Astrophysicists Use ‘Violent’ And ‘Hypermasculine’ Language To Describe Space, Professor Complains

Natalie Gosnell, LinkedIn

James Lynch Contributor
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Colorado College Professor of Physics Natalie Gosnell says her field is steeped with “violent” and “hypermasculine” language to describe space.

Gosnell said, “[A]s an astrophysicist, I’m a product of institutions that are steeped in systemic racism and white supremacy,” in an interview with Colorado College News about her new art piece.

“The tenets of white supremacy that show up [in physics] of individualism and exceptionalism and perfectionism … it’s either-or thinking, and there’s no subtlety, there’s no gray area. All of this manifests in the way that we think about our research, and what counts as good research, what counts as important research,” Gosnell added.

Her art project, titled “The Gift,” tells the story of a dying star transferring its materials to a neighboring star to make it shine brighter than ever before. It’s designed to critique the “hyper-masculine” lens of the mass-transfer process, based on the receiving star’s label as a “Vampire” or “Cannibal” star. (RELATED: Trans ‘Gender Recognition’ Bill Throws Country Into Chaos As Critics Fear For Women’s Safety In Jails, Bathrooms)

“I think because science and art have been so separated, and there’s […] systemic issues within science, the metaphors that are often chosen [to discuss science] are very violent and hyper-masculine,” Gosnell continued in the interview.

The Gift is a 10-minute immersive experience featuring a picture book and other visual stimuli inside a music-filled room. Artists Janani Balasubramanian and Andrew Kircher worked with Gosnell on the project, which debuted at the New York Public Library (NYPL) on Dec. 10.

Gosnell’s research is focused on the blue straggler binary star systems, according to her archived Colorado College page. She obtained her PhD in astronomy from the University of Wisconsin and received the prestigious Cottrell scholar award to support her research.