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A new feminist attack on Richard Feynman

PC ideologue and cosmologist Matthew Francis wrote a rant titled

The problem of Richard Feynman
We learn that "Feynman is no hero to us" – he's surely a hero to me – and that Feynman was a "sexist" in attitudes and especially actions which must be so bad.

We are told that it's so bad that he was picking girls in bars. Feynman would pretend he was an undergraduate and had some successes with girls, including the graduate students' girlfriends.

Well, Feynman could afford to market himself as an undergraduate because he looked like one – and he was spiritually a lively undergraduate for most of his life.

What Francis doesn't tell us is that Feynman was a sensitive loving man who loved and cared about Arline Greenbaum when she caught tuberculosis.

Feynman is also criticized for admitting that he was the smartest guy in the room, even if his friends were present in the room. And you know, these stories are almost always right! Matthew Francis may be jealous because he often fails to be the smartest man in the room but that doesn't mean that Feynman wasn't.

Francis also repeats the meme we could have seen elsewhere that
Ironically, Feynman believed that Ann was a whore because she did not return sexual favors in exchange for sandwiches.
Francis' version is a bit different:
Not every man going to a bar psychs himself up by thinking of every woman as “worse than a whore” if she won’t sleep with him.
These propositions are based on several sentences describing events in a bar from a chapter of Feynman's book about his life such as:
A few moments later Ann says to me, “Why don’t you come and sit at the table here with us?”

I think to myself, “Typical bitch: he’s buying her drinks, and she’s inviting somebody else to the table.” I say, “I can see fine from here.”
It seems totally clear to me what Feynman actually meant by this sentence and by his terminology. At least in this context, a "bitch" is a word for a woman who abuses the fact that a man loves her or has a crush on her and she makes sure that she is getting "more than the fair compensation" for what she is actually doing for the man, for his heart, and for other things.

A woman who is hosted by a man who is interested in her but who remains as close to all other men as to himself is clearly a bitch in this setup and I agree with Feynman that what she is doing isn't too ethical.

That was the quote with the word "bitch". The word "whore" appears in these lines:
I stop suddenly and I say to her, “You... are worse than a WHORE!”

“Whaddya mean?”

“You got me to buy these sandwiches, and what am I going to get for it? Nothing!”
First of all, it's a part of the monologue that Feynman would use to pick the girls so you don't necessarily have to evaluate the truth value and morality of these sentences.

But if you do, I would argue that these sentences are true and based on respectable, internally consistent morality, too.

A whore is someone who provides sex to (horny) men for a financial compensation. If a woman is materially compensated by (horny) men but she is providing them with nothing, even though the men's desires are pretty much analogous to the case of the whore, then she is indeed worse than a whore!

Truly consensual sex is assigning pretty much symmetric financial roles to the man and the woman. In the real world, it is often the case that the man is supposed to be more engaged, an asymmetry develops, and there are material (I mean financial) flows from him to her. If the flows get excessive, i.e. if a woman (or, much less frequently, a man) abuses her (or his) status of being desired, it's bad.

I am annoyed by Francis' (and many other PC ideologues') mud slinging against Feynman because it reminds me of the communists' rants against Havel, dissidents, and many others – and tons of analogous texts that the heirs of the communist ideology and methods were doing afterwords.

But what is also bad is that these criticisms invade Feynman's privacy and the privacy of those women, too. It's really not Francis' business to "charge" Feynman with something because he isn't a party to those events. If someone could have complained, it was the women. But I don't really think that any of the women had a reason to complain. After all, there must have been thousands of women who would later be very sorry that they didn't sleep with Richard Feynman. And if there are no plaintiffs, there should be no judges.

So I encourage Matthew Francis to exploit the remarkable opportunity to shut his dirty politically correct mouth up.

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snail feedback (38) :

reader Uncle Al said...

Heterosexuals as a class are disgusting for overtly advertising their sexual preference. (Moustaches for girls! End the Patriarchy!) They reproduce their own kind rather than recruit. Feynman was particularly egregious for treating all women like desirable sexual objects and even drawing them naked.

As for intelligence, the US government alone has spent more than $15 trillion since the 1965 "Great Society" proving that, less 35% national dropout rate, the average privileged minority has an 85 IQ. Feynman was the Evil IQ stealing from the deserving and impressing Eurocentric racist exclusion. How could he possibly comprehend Inner Cities' killing fields?

Pokud souhlasíte s ničím písemného výše, jste společenský obhájce.

reader Rehbock said...

In my experience most women then and now knew the difference between men. Most women would call him a keeper .

reader Don Juan said...

Feynman treated the women in his life better than Einstein did. And if I had a dollar for every genius who wasn't a saint....

reader Gordon said...

Feynman's dating habits and other perceived flaws have absolutely nothing to do with his physics and value as a scientist. On the other hand, people who mind and butt into other peoples' business when it doesn't impact them personally, particularly when that person is dead, are wastes of space.

reader Gene Day said...

"If there are no plaintiffs, there should be no judges.” Right!

Feynman never did anything to hurt anyone; I am sure of that. He was intolerant only of fools and charlatans.

reader Svik said...

It was 2 to 1. And 2 kids. Not too bad.

reader Svik said...

Did you go to the topless and nude bars too

Maybe that would attract more physicists. ;-)

reader Svik said...

Feynman lectures are online on at least two good web sites. Just search on goggle.

He loves to teach. That is why he did not go to the same place as 1stone did.

reader Day Day said...

Fortunately, science is not determined by sideshows.

reader lukelea said...

"What Francis doesn't tell us is that Feynman was a sensitive loving man who loved and cared about Arline Greenbaum when she caught tuberculosis."

So true:

reader lukelea said...

"Feynman is also criticized for admitting that he was the smartest guy in the room, even if his friends were present in the room."

That must have especially irritated Gell-Mann, who hyper-egotistically fancied himself the smartest man on the planet:;jsessionid=95594470798EA38DC02F978DC646CD6D

reader lukelea said...

Truly consensual sex is assigning pretty much symmetric financial roles to the man and the woman. In the real world, it is often the case that the man is supposed to be more engaged, an asymmetry develops, and there are material (I mean financial) flows from him to her. If the flows get excessive, i.e. if a woman (or, much less frequently, a man) abuses her (or his) status of being desired, it's bad.

Well, it is more complicated than that:

reader Rehbock said...

Mary the 1of 3 complained to a divorce judge. "He did calculus while driving, while sitting in the living room and while lying in bed at night."
You can't please them all :-)

reader anna v said...

I consider myself lucky to have met Feynman at a small theoretical workshop in 1980 or so. It is a great abuse of the truth to portray him as some sort of woman exploiter or worse.

Yes, he was flirting with all the young graduate students at the workshop, releasing his inner teenager but there was nothing offensive in his manner, silly yes, trying to be endearing,yes. The eternal boy/girl flirt game, even though he was over 60 at the time and after an operation.

It is calumny to portray him in the way you describe.

reader Svik said...

There is plenty of calumny going around. I try to avoid getting involved. Do you use that word in your every day English or did you look it up? It must be from the Latin.

reader Alex said...

I don't use 'calumny' in my day to day conversations, but I do use 'dickhead' quite often. I am thinking that word at the moment, in regards to your comment.

reader Marcel van Velzen said...

Feynman is my hero because he was a great physicist AND tried hard to pick up women. Deal with that asshole!

reader Alex said...

I am 65 years old. Next semester, when a female student approaches me with 'cow eyes' and tells me that she admires me. I shall 'bitch -slap' her and send her to counselling. My wife will do the same with her male students.

reader John Archer said...


Your comment was uncalled for. You imply Anna was being pretentious. She wasn't.

As far as I can tell calumnyhas exactly the right nuance for what she's referring to, namely not just a lie but a malicious lie.

Besides, the Latin is calumnia, not calemnia.

What you're doing here is verging on bullying. I've seen that game played elsewhere. It would be better if you avoided it.

reader Alex said...

There are also bitches and whores that I would gladly push out the window.

reader John Archer said...


Here's a slightly different twist.

While in this case I agree very much with your maxim, in general one needs to careful about "Where there is no plaintiff there can be no judge". Some defendants have a tendency to act on it — with a sudden spike in the local supply of concrete overcoats for instance. :) Not good.

Incidentally, although I hadn't heard it before, a more apposite Anglo-Saxon version would be "Where there is no plaintiff there can be no jury". No mere judge, or other shit-faced wise guy, should decide on guilt.

Now, the EU is very keen on pushing the idea of so-called "wise men" deciding things. That tells you pretty much everything you need to know about that criminal enterprise. Fcuk the EU.

reader John Archer said...

Was he a little infirm when he asked that? If so, that would be understandable.

But otherwise not. Moreover, it seems out of character as it would ordinarily merit the response, "NO! Get your own fucking soup. Who the hell do you think think you are? Some fine man? Piss off!

reader david hunter tow said...

Agree Don- Einstein wasn't a perfect father husband- who is? but his contribution to humanity as a physicis and peace activist is inestimable

reader anna v said...

Dear Svik

Greek is my mother tongue but ever since I learned english I built up a translator in my head from greek to english. In greek this is called συκοφαντία and the word exists in english in "sycophancy" but it has a different meaning than in modern greek, where it means "malicious attribution of false characterizations". My inner translator gave me "calumny" and yes, I did check in that I was not misusing the word.

reader mr. critic said...

The rant isn't such a bad thing after all. It made Feynman even more sympathetic in my eyes. I wonder what can provoke a man to write such a squeaking nonsense. Jealosy?

reader Svik said...

Sorry. It was meant as a friendly question. ;-)

reader Alex said...

We all make mistakes sometimes

reader cynholt said...

The difference between the US and most other developed countries is that most of citizens in these countries get something for their tax dollars. They get free medical care, safe streets, good transportation, and edible food. We get massive intelligence apparatuses, F35s, rich bankers, poison foods and drugs, very expensive and very bad medical care, and lots of lawyers.

reader cynholt said...

Rich people in the US are wealthy, so they don't have to work. There is no tax on wealth, just income. And the tax that rich Americans pay is capped at 15%.

If you're not wealthy in the US, you have to work. Then about 35% of your income is eaten up by taxes.

More proof that US laws and regulations are made by rich Americans, for rich Americans.

reader cynholt said...

Between dodging corporate taxes, tax-exempt foundations, hiding money oversees in places like the Cayman Islands and corporate welfare, the US has created a perfect crony-capitalist system. The middle-class in the US will absolutely get hammered and the lower-class there will absolutely become inflated until people eventually get fed up trapped in this neo-feudal nightmare. The only silver-lining and bright spot about all of this is that throughout history, people will often rebel when their backs are pushed up into the wall. We can only hope that after the system collapses, a better future can be built after that.

reader cynholt said...

The reason that the American welfare state is as inefficient as it is, is due to our culture and not to structural issues. Simply put, we Americans turn everything into a racket if given the chance. Germans could make even communism work after a fashion. Canadians have a communitarian culture. We Americans are inventive opportunists to the core and any scheme involving free public money will be exploited to the maximum extent possible for personal or group gain. That’s just who we are.

Our dilemma is that over time we have constructed such a sclerotic, rats-nest of interwoven rackets that only a full collapse of the system will impel real systematic change. But no new system of “social justice” here would survive the immediate assault of the lawyers, unions, political whores, lobbyists etc.

reader Richard Warren said...

I appreciate the effort, but this sort of sarcasm does not play well in comments to blogs. The "rich people are wealthy" parody of the stupidity of left thinking people is pretty funny, tho.

reader cynholt said...

Face it, Richard, the US tax code is nothing more than a vote buying scheme -- I'll lower your taxes, and you will then vote for me.

Also, the tax code here is nothing more than a device to keep the oligarchs in power. Ever wonder why Uncle Warren Buffet only pays himself $100k/year in income? Because he can get into a much lower bracket by paying capital gains taxes on his stock ownership. Couples making $250k/year pay a much higher percentage of their incomes in taxes which keeps a lid on their upward mobility. The .01% doesn't want any up-and-comers to get a cut of their power and wealth.

reader Rehbock said...

Employment is consensual and by choice as you say. So taxes on that income are equally consensual. If I don't work I make no money. It is my choice. If by not earning money I am not able to feed myself, it is my consent and choice thus to starving myself. So taxes are voluntary. One can always choose not to incur taxes by not working. Which is what i am doing right now. Should be at my office but then I would earn money.
Think I will :-)

reader Luboš Motl said...

Employment is consensual and by choice as you say. So taxes on that income are equally consensual.

LOL, that's excellent. I appreciate all your attitudes and even your donations at some point. So please notice that I have just consensually tripled your tax rate you are paying to me. Don't forget about the consensual modification when you open next time. Thanks a lot! ;-)

reader Rehbock said...

Fortunately for them those who do not wish to pay income taxes need only be rich. They do not starve when they leave employment.
That employment is voluntary is flawed because a person who needs a job will "pay" by accepting onerous work or low pay. A person will pay income taxes for the same reason. They must work to survive.

reader Rehbock said...

The subtle hint I took from inclusion of a donation link is that he does consent to receive some money.
I have obliged and urge all who can to do so. Lubos has been voluntarily doing this for a decade and he keeps us from starving among the lesser sites.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Robert, just to be sure, I didn't really mean it as a serious call for donations! It was just a thought experiment.

On a bike trip, we did have a disagreement with my dad about charities. When I said that I don't really believe that (especially wealthy) people paying some money to charities are really better human beings in average, because they either (mostly) want to compensate something wrong they did or they easily want to buy people and invest, he was treating me as a heretic. ;-)

I do appreciate when someone is really donating because of his good heart, and I have donated a lot in my life, too. But I grew disillusioned about the meaning of all of this - because of some jerks who improve their image in such cheap ways; and after seeing how disappointingly the resources are ultimately being used by those who get them (e.g. in Africa or homeless).