Home Sciences María del Monte, ‘pinkwashing’ and the social communication of science

María del Monte, ‘pinkwashing’ and the social communication of science


The Sevillian singer María del Monte has come out of the closet with a rainbow polka-dot shawl, dancing I will survive, by Gloria Gaynor, to a flamenco rhythm and to the applause of the Andalusian LGTBIQ+ movement, especially the older members of the group. The image of her has been a blow of effect in the week in which the rainbows have returned to fill the streets.

The LGTBIQ+ collective is preparing to come out of the pandemic closet, recovering the forms of entertainment, partying and vindication prior to 2020, but will everything really be the same? Waiting for the great Pride 2022 demonstrations in the megalopolises of the world, social networks begin to be dyed in colours, institutions customize their profiles with the LGTBIQ+ flag and the big brands advertise their products dyeing them with “pride”.

For some, this hypervisibility is actually a new mode of pinkwashingthis time applied to affective-sexual and gender diversity, and proof of the commodification of the movement, of the sale of its soul to Devil capitalist.

Be that as it may, the truth is that the first post-pandemic Pride faces the challenge this year of reinforcing its protest agenda amid the noise of the superficial. The challenge of recovering the streets after the pandemic comes at a critical moment due to the confrontation of the LGTBIQ+ collective with its main ally: feminism -in reality, only a part of it-, on account of the trans law and, worst of all, by the growth of homophobia in political forces with representation in Western democracies.

In the middle of this debate on the commodification of the movement and the design of the protest agenda are the institutions, including the scientific ones, that try to incorporate attention to affective-sexual and gender diversity without stepping on too many tripe and, above all, measuring the steps that are taken in the strictly communicative, so as not to fall into the pinkwashing not stay on the surface.

Addressing diversity in scientific laboratories

Science has provided sufficient evidence on the urgency of addressing diversity in laboratories and universities to guarantee the social success of their human resource policies, but also to avoid the loss of talent. Converting scientific institutions into inclusive and safe spaces requires specific policies based on knowledge and specific training that change the institutional culture. University classrooms continue to present serious problems of homophobia, while in laboratories diversity continues armored.

The Prisma Association for Affective-Sexual and Gender Diversity in Science, Technology and Innovation has been working to break this exclusionary culture for several years. It does so by offering advice and institutional training, while other organizations such as the Network of Universities for Diversity are weaving a collaborative network that allows sharing experiences and strategies to add affective-sexual and gender diversity to the inclusion plans of the universities, initiated to address other diversities (of capabilities or social) less discussed from politics.

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Scientific institutions are not inclusive spaces

They are, in short, efforts to convert scientific institutions into truly inclusive spaces, for which it is necessary to break with historical inertia and markedly heteronormative and masculinized ceilings. A battle that university feminism began already in the eighties and in which activism resists against the attacks of the system. It is only necessary to take a look at the reports of the Equality Unit of the Ministry of Science to know that positions of responsibility and decision-making spaces continue to be a matter of men.

In this context, the institutional services of scientific communication, so active on other fronts, are slowly going down the path of inclusive communication in terms of affective-sexual and gender diversity. Just a few days of dissemination and reflection on the subject and a few public outreach events present 28J as the “poor brother” of the almost saturated 11F, International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

The reasons for this communicative shyness could well be related to the fear of falling into institutional whitewashing: if scientific institutions have hardly included inclusion policies in their organizations, how are we going to present them as safe and committed spaces to public opinion? If the role of communication is to reinforce cultural change, doesn’t that change need to be real? Communication Theory says yes.

Maria del Monte has the answer

And, on the other hand, if scientific communication requires the active and visible participation of the research community, shouldn’t the communication of affective-sexual diversity in science directly involve its protagonists? In this also María del Monte could have the answer.

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When the Spanish democracy decriminalized homosexuality in 1978, she was a teenager on the verge of winning a television show that would catapult her to fame. That repeal of homosexuality as a dangerous assumption had affected women to a lesser extent. For this, female invisibility played in favor of lesbians: for centuries lesbianism was made up and socially accepted under the euphemism of “romantic friendship”.

Given that medically women were considered individuals without the capacity to feel desire or pleasure, socially the relationship of two women was not interpreted in sexual terms. So María del Monte could go “unnoticed” if she made a little effort and accepted the problem that this poses for mental health.

When in 1996 the Spanish democracy completely repealed that dangerous law that had allowed social control of homosexual people, but also of anyone who annoyed the system, including political dissidence, María del Monte assumed that she was the visible face of a program state television.

When the Spanish democratic institutions approved the legislative framework that allowed same-sex marriage, María del Monte was involved in a legal battle to prevent another television channel from alluding to her sexual condition and preserve her right to privacy.

Although last week María del Monte was congratulated for speaking openly about her sexual condition, she also received criticism and attacks on the networks for having been slow to do so. Those who did it did not understand that each one comes out of the closet when she feels like it and that the obligation of the institutions that make up democracy is to offer them a safe legal framework, but above all a social and cultural one. That is why those who communicate science need the real commitment of the institutions with the policies of attention to diversity before raising the flags.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original.

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