A selection of pacifiers found in Test Subject V’s bassinet on a random evening. Dr. Wubnub can be seen in the bottom left.Test Subject V has a variety of pacifiers. Like, really—we’ve only had her for like two months, I’m not sure how she got so many. But it makes sense, because you never know which pacifiers will appeal to a newborn. They can’t tell you what they’re looking for in a binky, because they’re babies, and babies are little nonverbal idiots.
And you develop your own preferences, too. For example, I like the Nuk pacis, because they’re the first ones that V got good at holding in her mouth unassisted. My Colleague prefers the ones that the hospital gave us, which let you stick your finger inside the binky. I think she likes the intimacy and the haptic feedback.
At any rate, for our baby shower, one friend got us an elephant Wubbanub. Wubbanubs are plush toys that are attached to pacifiers. The idea is that when an infant’s hand-eye coordination might not be to the point yet of putting a pacifier back in their mouth, they can still hold onto the plush toy and thus keep the binky in their mouth. Below is an image of Test Subject V with hers:
When Test Subject V first started taking pacifiers, I once overheard My Colleague saying to her, while trying to give her the pacifier: “Here comes Mr. Wubb’nub!”
Which sort of set off an involuntary reaction in me: why is the pacifier gendered at all, but specifically gendered as male? Couldn’t it be a woman? Couldn’t the woman have another title—and one that isn’t “Princess”? What if it was Doctor Wubb’nub?
Test Subject V’s mother, My Colleague, works in academia, as I have from time to time. She has a father, a paternal grandmother, and a maternal grandfather all with PhD’s. Maybe instead of making her a medical doctor, Dr. Wubb’nub should be a professor, someone working in academia like mommy.
So in quick order, we began developing a bio for Dr. Wubb’nub, one that sounds half like a joke and half like a child’s lesson in academic politics and intersectional feminism. “Her doctorate should be in a STEM field!” “And elephants are from Asia and Africa—she should be African American, because there’s so much less representation of African American women in STEM!” So without further ado, lemme introduce Dr. Wubb’nub:
Dr. Zora Wubb’nub—yes, her parents named her after Zora Neale Hurston—was born in Atlanta. She received her PhD in engineering from Stanford, and managed to get a tenure track position at MIT. Dr. Wubb’nub kind of hates the winters, here. She misses California.
Dr. Wubb’nub’s teaching evaluations are excellent, but her lab is perpetually underfunded, and of course her department head doesn’t care about teaching evaluations. Because she’s basically the only Black woman in her department, she’s asked to be on a ridiculous number of committees.
Dr. Wubb’nub wonders if she would have more time to put out grant applications if she wasn’t teaching a 3-2 load, leading a lab team, and serving on so many committees she lost track.
Dr. Wubb’nub once tried to explain to her department head that committee assignments weren’t just “service opportunities,” but were unpaid work, and often involved a lot of emotional labor.
Dr. Wubb’nub doesn’t think her department head really understands what “emotional labor” means.
Oh, and just like all the other stuffed animals in this apartment, Dr. Wubb’nub loves Test Subject V very much.