As any woman who has come across, well, men, knows, sexism is very often justified by spurious appeals to science, whether it is biology, evolutionary theory, brain science, or in a more puzzling twist, mathematics ('It's maths, deal with it!' says random man on twitter).
So it might be fun to know that, in the late 18thcentury, one woman sought to debunk sexism with an appeal to the study of the natural world. Here are Olympe's words from The Rights of Woman:
Reconsider animals, consult the elements, study plants, finally, cast an eye over all the variations of all living organisms; yield to the evidence that I have given you: search, excavate and discover, if you can, sexual characteristics in the workings of nature: everywhere you will find them intermingled, everywhere cooperating harmoniously within this immortal masterpiece.
This is perhaps not entirely accurate, but it's quite a lot better than the pseudo science that is continuously peddled at us via social media! My one criticism is that she might have reminded her readership of a number of species that don't quite fit that model of collaboration between the sexes. I'm thinking of the spider and the praying mantis.
This is where I live blog about my new book project, an intellectual biography of three French Revolutionary women philosophers.