ActivismFeminismFoodHealthMedia & TechnologyPseudoscienceScience

Food Babe: A Bitch by Any Other Name

Here’s a quick rant: As many of my readers would vehemently agree, Food Babe is one of the most annoying and pseudoscience-promoting, fear-mongering public figures of late. For those of you not familiar with Food Babe, she’s a self-proclaimed food “investigator,” an anti-GMO, natural-is-better fallacious, non-evidence-based, pro-organic shill. She bullies companies into succumbing to public distaste for scary-sounding yet benign additives, and then declares inconsequential victory against “Big Food.”

Let me be candid before continuing – Facebook groups like Chow Babe, Food Hunk, Science Babe, GMOLOL, and more are not only wonderful for their entertainment value. These fun groups herald crucial perspectives–their members break down unscientific food-related rampages from Food Babe and the likes with bona fide scientific evidence and data. These groups’ followers include scientists, writers, and skeptics. These are the crusaders of the internet, defending the public from the likes of miscreants like the #foodbabearmy.

Every now and then however, I’ll see something on these and similar pages that grinds my mommy/feminist gears. I’ve seen Food Babe called names like, “slut,” “bitch,” and “stupid bitch.” These slurs undermine the valuable and credible arguments against Food Babe’s pseudo-scientific agenda. One’s sexual behavior has nothing to do with credibility. Firstly, I don’t think any of us are privy to Food Babe’s sexual behavior, nor is one’s proclivity for sex or lack thereof ever relevant nor shame-worthy. And while the word “bitch” is controversial, it adds or detracts nothing from the content of Food Babe’s character or message. Furthermore, I highly doubt that Food Babe is stupid. Conversely, she’s a canny business person. As we know, she is cunning enough to hawk sponsor products, take a cut, and kick back on tropical vacations while her #foodbabearmy pickets at the March Against Monsanto, shops her sponsors, and funds her shenanigans. Far from “stupid,” this is savviness as an art form.

I do condone and giggle at the moniker “Vain Hair,” which plays on Food Babe’s given name Vani Hari. When someone deigns to give him/herself the title “Babe,” “vain” is certainly applicable. “Food Baby” is also fitting, considering the illogical tantrums she and her army throw.

Again, for the most part the anti-Food Babe brigade stays on point. Truly, I have empathy for the fleeting temptation to name call. After all, Food Babe’s antics are frustrating, and unlike her foes’ food additives, her actions are far from benign. Her fear-mongering detracts from the value and promise of GMO technology, and promotes the appeal to nature fallacy. In turn, Food Babe perpetuates one of the most daunting perils of modern society, far more frightening than preservatives, artificial colors or GMOs – scientific illiteracy.

My one request is this: Please do continue to combat the self-important drivel spouting from the likes of Vani Hari and her cronies. But let’s call her out for what she is: an anti-science, bullying, and seemingly disingenuous fear-mongering pied-piper. Let’s lay off gendered slurs like slut and bitch. She isn’t either of those. We feminist parents would hate for our children to see us undermining our adversaries with anything short of logical arguments and substantive and justified name-calling!

 

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Kavin Senapathy

Kavin Senapathy

Kavin Senapathy is a mom of two, co-Executive Director of March Against Myths, public speaker, Forbes contributor and author in Madison, WI. She is also co-author of "The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari's Glass House". Follow her on Facebook and twitter @ksenapathy

9 Comments

  1. September 1, 2014 at 7:34 pm —

    We should also refrain from commenting on the appearance of people who we disagree with. Ann Coulter, Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin get heaps of this, and it drives me crazy. Ann Coulter is awful not because of or in spite of how she looks, but solely because she is an immensely hatefilled person.

  2. September 2, 2014 at 12:03 pm —

    I agree. And although I hate to say it, I’d have to add Donald Trump to that list, hair and all. Still, what if someone incorporates their looks into their moniker? For example, say Dr. Oz called himself “Healthcare Hottie.” Would that open the floor to comment on his appearance? I’m not yea or nay on this, I really don’t know.

    • September 2, 2014 at 2:55 pm —

      I think the answer is “sort of.” If it’s a man, have at it, but if it’s a woman, I’d stay away from it because you’re only going to reinforce bullshit patriarchal norms. If you have a substantive argument to make, you should make it, and if you don’t, then you should probably reconsider your position. Commenting on appearance will make both of those harder. So while it may be “fair game”, it’s still not a good idea.

  3. September 2, 2014 at 3:56 pm —

    Well put. In theory, anything beside a person’s actions and arguments are irrelevant. It’s a slippery slope to head down.

  4. September 4, 2014 at 10:51 am —

    I’m such a veteran of Usenet flamewars that I eventually adopted “bitch” as part of my internet handle. it’s partially a warning (you knew I was a bitch going in, so stop acting all butthurt) and me getting to it before anyone else does. it also sort of nicely frames that era of my life and my mindset. I’ve adopted other internet handles in the past 5 years that have reflected my inner self during that time too. but yeah, gendered insults, like resorting to swearing as punctuation, just shows intellectual laziness, imo.

  5. September 4, 2014 at 8:33 pm —

    Yeah, bitch is a grey area. Sometimes it’s totally fine, sometimes even empowering, other times it seems unacceptable.

  6. September 5, 2014 at 11:24 am —

    I love you, Kavin. I agree. I think that we need to stop using slut and whore as an insult when we really mean, your argument is without merit and I disagree with you. Resorting to ad hominem attacks dilutes our ability to counter her arguments with science and fact.

  7. September 5, 2014 at 12:23 pm —

    What Steph said!

  8. September 5, 2014 at 4:57 pm —

    Yes! I doubt we would ever say, “Dr. Oz is a moderately handsome bitch with nice hair,” we’d say, “what he recommends is unscientific because X.”

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