Mansplaining was taken to new levels at the World Science Festival at John Jay College in New York CIty last weekend, when Dr. Veronika Hubeny, a theoretical physicist and professor at the University of California, Davis, found herself virtually ignored onstage during a panel on “Pondering the Imponderables.”
Hubeny, the only woman out of seven people onstage, was relegated to the sideline for the first hour of the panel. But when moderator Jim Holt of The New Yorker finally got around to asking Hubeny a question on string theory, her area of expertise, Holt couldn’t seem to resist talking over her and mansplaining his own interpretations of Hubeny’s theories — instead of allowing her to actually respond to his question. That was, of course, until one woman in the crowd decided she had heard enough from Holt.
“Let her speak, please!” the woman yelled, prompting the room to erupt into cheers of agreement.
The voice from the crowd would later be identified as belonging to Marilee Talkington, an actress, director, and disability rights activist. In a Facebook post that has since been shared more than 12,000 times, Talkington shared her frustration at Holt’s continued refusal to allow the academic to speak for herself.
“So at this point, after seeing very clearly that she was not going to be given space to speak and in fact having her own theories described to the audience by the moderator, I am in full outrage … The sexism is beyond blatant … and NO ONE, not a single other physicist or panelist is stepping in,” Talkington wrote. “Jim Holt, even at one point, asks Veronica a question and she laughs because he has been answering his own questions about her work … and he makes fun of her for ‘giggling.’”
Speaking to The Observer after the incident, Talkington said she was “deeply moved and so encouraged” by the audience’s cheers in support of her sudden outburst. But the most “humbling” moment, Talkington said, was when Hubeny commented on her Facebook post herself.
“I applaud your heroism for standing up for what you believe in,” Hubeny wrote. “Your behavior was inspiring, and I’m glad that many of those inspired shared their gratitude with you.”
Watch video of the panel below (the interruption happens at 1:05:30).
Read the full story at The Observer.