7 Quick Takes (1/13/12)

7 Quick Takes (1/13/12) January 13, 2012

— 1 —

I bought girl scout cookies from a coworker this week, and now I’m wishing I had sprung for more than two boxes of Thin Mints.  You see, the Girl Scouts allowed a biologically male seven year old who identifies as a girl to join up, and now there’s a proposed boycott.  Good for them for letting the kid in, and, have you ever heard a sweeter LGBT activism pitch than eat cookies for change?

I was a Daisy and a Brownie, and I found the Girl Scouts mostly boring.  Instead of building character or learning to tie a lot of knots (which are the same thing, right?) we did things like visit a bakery and learn songs.  I remember I got into a bit of an argument in elementary school over reciting the Girl Scout Pledge (“On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, To help people at all times, And to live by the Girl Scout Law.”).

— 2 —

If people want to try to shield girls and young women from malign influences, their time would be better spent producing videos like this:


— 3 —

I ended up highlighting some of the problems faced by women bloggers and the pervasive misogyny online early this week in a post on anger.  Sexism wasn’t the main focus of that post, so I’d like to link to Kate Clancy’s “Even When We Want Something, We Need to Hide It” at Scientific American.  Here’s a teaser:

An older faculty member approached me to unlock his own bike. He complained about where some students had locked their bikes because they obstructed the bike lane. He mentioned that he had told the police but that they never did anything about it. I nodded sympathetically.

“Of course,” he then said, “if I had been dressed like you, maybe they would have listened!”

And just like that, I was no longer a colleague. I was a woman.

— 4 —

On a different activist note, I’m awfully glad this blog is currently hosted by WordPress, because I’m proud of their opposition to SOPA.  If you’re reading this blog online (or if you’ve contracted a young whippersnapper to print out the posts) you benefit from a free, open internet.  SOPA would make it easy for private copyright holders to use the U.S. government to boot people and sites offline in a guilty-til-proven innocent default.  Please check out the overview and sign a petition or donate to a good group like the EFF.

— 5 —

Ok, that was a lot of calls to action, so perhaps I should let you rest and look over a 40 year illustrated history of boxplots.

— 6 —

Oh, and since a lot of the atheist and Christian blogs I read all seem to be talking about Tim Tebow again, maybe now’s as good a time as any to explain the only reason I have to feel antipathy toward him.  Because he’s demonstrative about his Christian faith in the context of the game, people seem to expect I should be paying the slightest bit of attention to football and I resent this.

The concussion injuries in football are horrific, and the cover-up/evasion of responsibility by the NFL has been shameful.  It’s barbaric, and I don’t care how many faith-and-the-public-sphere debates it provokes, I won’t have anything to do with it.

— 7 —

Finally, if you’re not watching Sherlock, now’s the perfect time to watch the three episodes of season one streaming on Netflix.  We’ve just watched the first two episodes of Season Two chez moi, and had a very successful tweed-themed party.

We drank so much tea.

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  • Anonymous

    And just like that, I was a woman.


    • Hibernia86

      You can be a colleague and a woman at the same time.

      • Anonymous

        My point exactly! The story makes sense with my correction… it seems that the nonsense about “no longer a colleague” is unnecessary and unsubstantiated.

        • deiseach

          Dear sir (for I can guess that you are a sir by your dismissive tone and complete ignorance of the point), would the older faculty member have made the same comment to a younger male colleague?

          Now, perhaps the man meant it jocularly, and was hoping that by making a joke at the end, he would not come off like a grumpy old man complaining about those kids on his lawn after his plaint about the students and the way they don’t care about inconveniencing others when they park their bikes, but the only point in saying “They would have listened to me if I was dressed like you” is to say that as far as he’s concerned, she’s a pretty young thing – and that’s it.

          That the only reason the police would take a complaint from her or another woman seriously is because she’s young and attractive. If she were old and plain, no joy.

          Think about it, gentlemen; would you pay a compliment to your boss by such a remark? And no, not a remark that implies “Oh, if only I looked successful and impressive as you do, I’d be taken seriously” but “If I looked like ‘I’d tap that!’ the way you do, I’d be taken seriously”?

          I’m pretty sure Leah and Kate are, and I know that I am, tired of explaining this kind of thing. We’re also tired of having it waved away or blown off as “Women – you’re so sensitive, you’re reading something into that that is not there!”

          Yes, gentlemen, explain our lives to us, why don’t you?

          • Anonymous

            I’m not trying to explain anyone’s life to them. However, if they’re going to claim something about other people, they need to support it before I’ll believe it. This claim seems unsupported.

            The phrase, “I was no longer a colleague,” implies that you’re discussing the professional sense. But the context of the discussion was not a professional matter. It was concerning talking to the police. It is not a matter of, “They won’t take your work seriously unless you’re an attractive female.” It’s a matter of, “It is unlikely that the police are going to go very far out of their way to help you unless you’re an attractive female.” This has absolutely nothing to do with whether a person is considered a colleague.

            Now, I would have no problem with comments regarding what the attitude of the police should be or whether or not we could change that attitude to the point where such a statement would not be true. However, none of that has anything to do with whether a person is a colleague or not. This statement is with regard to perceived behavior of the police, and that is all.

            If a young male faculty member actually possessed any overt characteristic that might make the police more likely to go out their way to help, an older faculty member would absolutely mention it! Say… maybe the young guy is carrying a box of doughnuts. Are you going to mention it? I suppose you could argue that it’s impossible to buy doughnuts and also do good work…

            Suppose we replace the police with an occupation that is female-dominated. If someone made a comment about how an attractive male could better pursuade this group to do something, what would you think? Seriously. Try a few female-dominated occupations in your mind. Explain to me how they end up making the male in question not a colleague. I’m betting you’ll come back explaining that this would actually be demeaning women, too!

            If you have any actual evidence that this statement means she’s not a colleague, please present it. I won’t dispute the idea that you don’t like it. But it’s harder to claim that it makes her not a colleague. It makes her a woman. Apparently an attractive one, at that. Thus, I stand by my correction.

            [Final complaint about your post: You infer that, “The only reason the police would take a complaint from her or another woman seriously is because she’s young and attractive.” This comment actually says no such thing. Her being young and attractive is certainly a reason why they would do something… but that doesn’t preclude other reasons. Thus my discussion about doughnuts. Or the idea that they might want to help out the sweet old lady who reminds them of their grandma.]

          • deiseach

            Anonymous, the point Kate Clancy and I are both making is that Older Faculty Member would never say “If I was dressed like you” to a male colleague. An equal? A superior? A junior? Can you really see him saying that to another man, in the context of ‘having my complaint taken seriously’?

            Now, if party X had been dressed like he woke up on the street after a two-day bender and party Y had been – in the words of Philip Marlowe from The Big Sleep – “I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it”, then okay, it’s just two colleagues joking.

            If Kate had been dressed like a student and Older Colleague as the stereotypical stuffy professor, then it might have been in the context of “They only take student complaints seriously”.

            But she was dressed as she describes – in her usual teaching uniform: wideleg trouser jeans, a black boatneck sweater, and a pair of high-heeled shoes. If you don’t know what wide leg jeans look like, here is an image to help you out. And here is a boat neck sweater.

            What’s the only element there that Older Colleague might not have been wearing? The heels. Now, we don’t know how Older Colleague was dressed. He might have been in a suit and tie, he might have been in tie-dyes and sandals. Maybe Kate is being a bit sensitive here after all.

            But women have to be sensitive to these things, because women do get judged on how they dress. Too formal? Stuck-up and/or frigid prude. Too casual? Slutty (in personal life), not capable and hard-working enough for senior position (work life).

            When you can instance me examples of where you made a comment to another man about his clothing, or another man made a comment to you about your clothing, in the context of ‘having my concerns taken seriously’, and it wasn’t a put-down, please let me know.

          • Anonymous

            That’s actually pretty easy. One example is someone having an interview. They’re not going to be taken seriously unless they dress appropriately. My students aren’t going to take me seriously unless I dress appropriately in the classroom (at least for the first few weeks… I don’t want them to take me too seriously, heh). I’ve made comments and received comments in situations like these before. The most important point is that the comments are related to the truth of a situation. An interviewer wouldn’t take you seriously if you show up in shorts and sandals. My students would treat me differently depending on what I wore. The police would respond differently depending on how attractive and well-dressed the person asking for a favor is (or if they had a box of doughnuts).

            I understand that women are more sensitive to their appearance, in and out of the workplace. We brutes sometimes have to be told to not wear a t-shirt. Why do we get told that? Because we are also judged based on our appearance! We just aren’t always cognizant of it. Just last week, I attended a presentation about college teaching by a professor in theater. He took a memorable amount of time discussing how he decided to wear what he wore that day and how your appearance in the classroom alters the ‘casting’. It was not, “You women need to wear this.” It was, “All you people need to pay attention to what you’re wearing so you’re taken seriously.” The women in the audience likely had an advantage going into it, because they’re more sensitive to the topic.

            Finally, I’m still waiting for any justification that a comment like this makes her not a colleague. Even if your worst fear is true and the guy is judging her based on her appearance… we judge our other colleagues by their appearance, too! Do you have somewhat different apparel concerns being a woman? Yes. Thus, I’ve continued to grant the statement, “I was a woman.” Can you not like it when someone makes such a comment? Yes. Have you presented a single shred of evidence that the statement makes her not a colleague? No.

          • Christina

            There is a wide-held opinion that being an attractive young female gets men to try to help you…because it’s true. It’s biology. Women often joke about how they get what they want by playing the “pretty, distressed girl” card. My mom has even pulled it to get a bill sorted out (the company wouldn’t help her, then a young man got on the phone and she played it up. His “defend woman” gene turned on and he actually solved the problem).

            I also fail to see how being a female makes anyone less of a colleague. Now if the comment was said with that certain look and tone that reduces her to just a bunch of female parts, then there is a problem, but it’s not with the words.

            It sounds more like the writer was insecure with being a woman.

          • Christina

            “Now if the comment was said with that certain look and tone…”

            Also, this look and tone would be significant because it WOULD make her “not a colleague” but not because she is now a woman. Such a look does not classify someone as a woman, but as a cheap sexual partner. A woman is a whole creature, mind, spirit and body, whereas that tone only notices the body – and even that only for the man’s use.

            There is absolutely NOTHING that says one cannot be both a colleague and a woman. You can respect someone as a colleague and admire her as a woman. But you cannot respect her as a colleague if you have already classified her as a cheap sex partner.

  • Joe


    It would be great if you were to write a post explaining transgenderism the way you did with bisexuality. How do psychologist and other medical professionals determine if someone is really the opposite gender and not just projecting societal gender stereotypes on to themselves? Honestly curious. Thanks

  • I had the same lame Girl Scout experience. I made it to the green Girl Scout sash and promptly quit. Selling cookies isn’t half as cool as the Boy Scout activities!

    (I completely forgot about the pledge–what the hell was the “Girl Scout Law?!”)

  • Jill

    Whoah, I never thought I would see multiple box plots while surfing through my rss feeds. I feel like I’m at work!

  • My partner and i take pleasure in an individual locating the time to share all of them with us all.