Archive for the 'Zuska’s Outreach Project For D00dly D00ds' category

The Differential Impacts of Sexist Gender Role Expectations

Every once in awhile I do manage to get out to a social sort of event. Recently I was at one such thing. And overhead the following:
Female, mid-40s: When I was in high school, I wanted to be a veterinarian. And I had great SAT scores, high 1400's [out of a then total 1600]. But my high school guidance counselor strongly discouraged me, and told me "those are really more men's kind of jobs." So I gave up thinking about vet school, even though I had the ability.
Male, same age: When I was in high school, I wanted to learn to type. Probably because I just wanted to take what I thought was an easy class, but I kept asking over and over to be allowed to take a typing class. My guidance counselor wouldn't let me register for typing. He told me "you're going to college, you don't need typing. You'll have a secretary to do your typing for you." And then all through college I had to pay people to type my term papers for me, and spend hundreds of dollars on that. My first job out of college, I walk into the office and my boss sits me in front of a computer and says "you'll have to type [complex documents in his industry] on this." Just last week, my current boss saw me pecking away with two fingers and said "I can't believe you can't type."
Sexist gender role expectations are not innocent, and not without effect, even if everybody grows up to have lives that they are more or less happy with. Both of these people have what you would call a nice life. But one of them had her whole life course dramatically changed because of a guidance counselor's sexist beliefs about what jobs belonged to which gender, and another had to spend cash he didn't really have to spare in college, and spends time he doesn't have to spare now on the job, because of another guidance counselor's sexist beliefs about who should learn to type and who would have the typing done for them.
The differential effects of sexism often mean that men are less predisposed to be aware of them - having someone tell you "you don't need to worry about typing" is not quite as dramatic and life-altering as having them tell you "vet school is for the men, little lady". Men do have a lot of privilege to lose in moving to a more equitable system of gender relations, but they also have some things to gain. One of my commenters - I think it was SKM - posted a link on another thread to Men's Lives by Michael Kimmel. It's an interesting looking collection of essays on the intersection of race, class, and gender, focusing on men's lives, of course, as the title indicates. It would be something useful for all the d00dly Zuskateers (is that an oxymoron?) to read and ponder.

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Work-Life Balance 3: Less Navel-Gazing, More Scholarly And Institutional Structure Analysis!

First post in this series can be found here.
Second post in this series can be found here.
In my second post in this series, I gave the men a cookie, and commenter rpf accused me of...gasp!...being too nice!
I believe this is the first time this has ever happened.

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A New Attitude

After my last few posts, and the tons of comments from thegoodman and Queef, I've started thinking seriously about my approach to this blog. Maybe I am just a little too angry for no good reasons, too often just calling childish names and not solving discrimination. Perhaps I can do better. Perhaps I should start with a new profile photo, something more friendly and welcoming to all. My proposed new profile photo can be found after the jump. Let me know what you think.

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Why Are You So Angry?

Thegoodman really, really wants to know.

If you do not consider yourself a failure, that is great. Why then are you so angry about this situation? If it has worked out well for you, what is driving your passionate hatred for our patriarch society?
Like many gender discussions/arguments, your approach has made me feel guilty for being a man. This doesn't accomplish anything positive since I soon get defensive because I cannot help it that I am a man and I shouldn't feel guilty about just as you shouldn't feel guilty for being a woman.

This is hilarious in so many ways. Let's recap. I explained how petulant whiny white d00ds make the same boring complaint over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, believing themselves to be the first clever souls ever to have come up with it, and then listed several calm responses I often used, each of which, even the pissy one, were intended to engage the petulant whiners in some reflective thinking. Then I described what was going on in my mind while I was spoon-feeding Diversity 101 to the petulant whiners, even though we all know I never allowed myself to say any of those angry thoughts out loud. Because part of my job was, in fact, the spoon-feeding. We may debate whether the spoon-feeding does much good at all, but in any case, I was paid to spoon-feed.
So, my dear Zuskateers. While I've been away, occupied with allergies, migraines, and the Morris Arboretum plant sale, you have apparently taken on Zuska's Outreach Project for D00dly D00ds. I stand in amazement at your handiwork. Through over 250 comments now you have explained, reasoned, provided links, illustrated points, discussed. And Thegoodman, who has trotted out every tired douchey trope we've all encountered eighty bazillion times before he showed his sorry self on this blog, is puzzled by the presence of anger. Oh, he occasionally will acknowledge that you are passionate about this subject, in a most condescending fashion - it's a sweet way of saying "I see you are all emotional about this, and so I can't expect you to be rational, or draw upon facts, the way I do, but that's okay, I excuse you, and admire your feminine passion." Calling what he's seeing "passion" has two effects: it dismisses the arguments being made as non-logical, non-intellectual, and it downgrades the seething anger many of us are carrying around from dealing with douchey d00ds all our lives to just a quaint little "passion", something sweetly feminine.
I have news for you, Thegoodman. I am not passionate about discrimination and inequity. I am fucking angry.
So many things in that epic thread caught my attention but I'll just focus on a few things here.

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I Had A Dream

Reader Jason commented on my post about compulsory smiling thusly:

I just wanted to thank everyone for the comments here. They've been enlightening... to be honest I had never heard of anyone being ordered to smile outside of greeter/public relation jobs (chalk it up to youthful naivete, I suppose). With that in mind when I first read the post it struck me as an overreaction to something minor, but it's hard to argue with a few dozen women from all over with the exact same stories and reactions.
I don't know if I've ever been guilty of this behavior in my life (I hope not, though I am a cheerful person and tend to strive for that in others), but I will certainly watch for it in myself and others from here on out. Sincerely, thanks.

Isis and JC rightly point out what is so very annoying and maddening about this sort of response, as positive as it may seem. Isis:

If one woman writes about something, it doesn't require the commiseration of every woman on the internet to make it valid.

JC:

The reason Jason "has never heard anyone" (not "anyone" little tyke, it's WOMEN!) being ordered to smile is because he is not a woman, men don't hear women, men ignore women, it takes 5 women saying the same thing over and over to be heard once by a man.

I am so on the same page with my sisters. And yet...

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First Year Patriarchy Laboratory

Jun 26 2009 Published by under Zuska's Outreach Project For D00dly D00ds

Christina Pikas has a nice post about finding information in books.
Sadly, however, she notes the following:

What kinds of things might a book work best for?...not for cutting edge, mostly

What does this imply when you think about our ongoing project to work our way through Allan Johnson's The Gender Knot? Oh crap, we're doing gender equity work, but we're not on the cutting edge?
That's okay, d00dz. Trust me, you so do not want to jump right to the cutting edge of discourse on the patriarchy. Did you walk right into the lab as an undergrad or a fresh grad student and start banging chemicals and glassware and equipment around?** I didn't think so. You had to learn some basics and background info first.
I guarantee you, though, that if you stick with The Gender Knot you will come through at the end knowing a whole lot more about patriarchy and gender issues, in a useful manner, than perhaps you did about chemistry at the end of your first-year chem lab. At least, if your first-year chem lab was like mine.
**If you did, you are just a fool. That shit is dangerous.

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Next Gender Knot Post Will Be Next Week

Hi all...just wanted to let you know that I am planning to do the first post for Chapter 2 of The Gender Knot sometime next week, probably mid-week. I have the new edition of the book and have been reading but there's a lot of stuff going on with mine and Mr. Z's family this week. I hope to do a few posts on other topics in the meantime, but we will be back with the Gender Knot next week. Meanwhile. there are still some pretty active discussions on the last few posts. Thanks to my readers for such intense conversation.

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Gender Knot Ch. 1 Follow Up: Who Has The Power of the Gaze?

Jun 16 2009 Published by under Zuska's Outreach Project For D00dly D00ds

What does it mean when a woman ogles a man in the patriarchy?
Reader RichB commented:

...men being looked at as sexual objects increases their power, but women being looked at as sexual objects decreases their power.

Reader Hope isn't buying it:
Really? So if I ogle a man, I'm increasing his power? If a man ogles another man, he's increasing that other man's power? Or is it just that I, as a woman, have no power to objectify a man? No power, period?
What's the answer? Can a woman objectify a man, or not?

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Gender Knot Ch. 1 Follow Up: Intentionality

Jun 15 2009 Published by under Zuska's Outreach Project For D00dly D00ds

In light of the great discussion you all have been having on the second post on Chapter 1 of The Gender Knot, I thought it would be a good time to direct you to this most excellent Feminism 101 post at Shakesville, "Sexism Is A Matter Of Opinion". The whole thing is pure gold but I'd like to point out in particular this section on intentionality.

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The Gender Knot: Ch. 1 Discussion - "Where Are We?" Part 2

Jun 11 2009 Published by under Zuska's Outreach Project For D00dly D00ds

Welcome to our discussion of The Gender Knot by Allan Johnson. This is the second post in the discussion series. We will be discussing Chapter 1 "Where Are We?" You can find all posts connected to this discussion here.
As noted before, there is an updated edition of the book now available. In the first post, I was working with the 1997 edition. I now have the new edition and this post is based on that edition. The first chapter is available online here. If you haven't had a chance to read the chapter, maybe you'd like to go now and read the pages covering "Women and Patriarchy" and "Deep Structure and the Way Out", page 13 to the end.
Just as in the first post, let's start with one important concept. If you take away nothing else from today's post, please at least spend some time chewing on this bit (based on arguments of sociologist David Wellman) which is actually to be found in a footnote on page 15 (emphasis mine):

The words sexism and sexist are commonly used to describe a personal prejudice or the person who holds it...however, that approach is too narrow to be of use because male privilege requires far more than this to continue...I use the term to indicate anything that has the effect of promoting male privilege, regardless of the intentions of the people involved. By judging actions, policies, and institutional arrangements solely in terms of their consequences, [this] conceptualization allows us to focus on the full range of forces that perpetuate male privilege, and saves us from the trap of personalizing what is essentially a social and systematic phenomenon.

We're going to take this concept along with Johnson's metaphor of patriarchy as a tree and use both to look at a particularly illustrative and timely (in the blogospheric sense) case study. Yes, I am speaking of tit-ogling. Come along with me, d00ds, for we have much to talk about.

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A Word on "Gender Knot" Editions

May 28 2009 Published by under Zuska's Outreach Project For D00dly D00ds

As has been noted, the recent edition of The Gender Knot has been substantially revised and reorganized, and I have been working off a 1997 edition, which is bound to cause some confusion for those of you reading the new edition. I've decided, therefore, that for the rest of the book, I am just going to have to get the new edition. I will finish out the discussion using my current text but for the remainder of the chapters I will go off the new edition.
This, combined with my upcoming (next week) week-long visit with mom, will delay slightly the discussion of Chapter 2, which I had originally hoped to do next week. I'm going to tentatively suggest that we try for two weeks from today, which would be (if I'm calculating right) June 11.
Also, a note: I want to make clear, if it was not already so, that my first post on The Gender Knot is a mix of a substantive summary of the first chapter along with my commentary on that chapter.

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The Gender Knot: Ch. 1 Discussion - "Where Are We?" Part 1

May 27 2009 Published by under Zuska's Outreach Project For D00dly D00ds

Welcome to our discussion of The Gender Knot by Allan Johnson. This is the first post in the discussion series. We will be discussing Chapter 1 "Where Are We?" You can find all posts connected to this discussion here.
I just noted a potential problem. There is an updated edition of the book now available. Right now I am working with a 1997 edition. I haven't decided if I will purchase the new edition; for now, I am going to keep going with my old one. But, if you are working with a new edition, you may encounter something in the book that I have left out. If so, please feel free to make note of this in the comments! And please feel free to comment extensively.
As I noted earlier, the first chapter is available online here. If you haven't had a chance to read the chapter, maybe you'd like to go now and read the introductory pages at least up to the subheader "Male Dominance" (pages 3, 4 and top of page 5).
Early on in the first chapter of The Gender Knot, Allan Johnson has this to say [emphasis mine]:

Patriarchy is not simply another way of saying 'men.' Patriarchy is a kind of society, and a society is more than a collection of people.

That may be the most important take-home message from this whole first chapter. It's not about you, personally. It's not even about some particular bunch of d00ds. It's about a system, and how we all interact with it.
So, what is that system?

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Update on Gender Knot Post Due Today

I promised you the first post on The Gender Knot today, and I still plan to get it up today if at all possible. My plan had been to work on it Monday and Tuesday but most of those days I was plagued with headache and it was difficult to concentrate on writing. So, it's not done yet.
Please note Chapter 1 is available online here.
In the meantime, perhaps you'd like to listen to fellow Scienceblogger Pal MD's latest Palcast, The Kitchen Edition, which relates to my post On Being A Patient.
Or maybe you'd like to read this post by Sheril Kirshenbaum at The Intersection and just puke, puke, puke on John Rushton's shoes. Be sure to enjoy Zen Faulkes' comment with the perfect book review for Mr. Rushton, and then my buddy Pal MD again who notes, quite rightly, that Rushton is "not even wrong".
Or maybe you'd just like to sit and quietly contemplate this: The whole Susan Boyle thing - is "ZOMFG the homely old ladee can SING!" the celebrity-land equivalent to Science-land's "ZOMFG, look, the pretty young girl does skienz!" ????
All three items should be as good a prep as any to diving into the The Gender Knot.

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Zuska's Outreach Project For D00dly D00ds

Well, that's quite a vigorous discussion we've all been having these past few days over proto-feminist d00ds, no? I am grateful to you all for your participation and for the many good suggestions made to help proto-feminist d00ds along the path of growth. In case some of you missed it, Comrade Physioprof offered his own handy-dandy guide for d00dly commenters over at Isis's place.
With all the interest in these two posts, I'm thinking that maybe we need to spend a little more time talking to/with/for the d00dly d00ds. Herewith, I am proposing Zuska's Outreach Project For D00dly D00ds. Specifically, I'm going to suggest that those of you who are interested, get a copy of Allan Johnson's The Gender Knot and read along with me. We'll take a chapter a week and discuss here on blog for everyone's pleasure and enlightenment. Discussion of first chapter to commence on Wednesday, May 27, which for you U.S. folks is the Wednesday after Memorial Day weekend. Now you have something to read while grilling the burgers during the cookout.

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