Being a woman in a patriachy (many ways)

A lot of the women I admire are a certain way.  It’s hard to explain, but if you’ve ever seen Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton you get an idea about it.  There’s a certain sense (they have, almost always accurately) that they’re always right.  Non-apologetically.  There’s strong opinions and disappointment in people who don’t do their job.  And the disappointment is voiced in a specific way.  Again, it’s hard for me to explain.

I used to be more like that.  More confident.  More willing to take a stand.  More willing to believe in myself and my power.  Less willing to “put up with fools gladly”.  More willing to write off -ist naysayers as the tools or idiots they are.

I’ve drawn back.  Become socialized.  I’ve forced myself to do this, changed to become a “better person” and doing so I’ve lost some of my ability to win against odds.  Drive is still there, but not the will.  Not the ability to brush everything off and not get hurt.

And that’s hurt.

But it’s also who I am now.  Wishy-washy too much one way not enough another.

Maybe I’ve always been this sensitive.  Secretly worrying that I’m wrong, that I’m confidently making bad decisions.

And I know I seem confident and secure to a lot of women, and I am, or at least more so than average.  But that’s only because the patriarchy beats women down into under-confident second-guessers.  And I have a perfect family and a strong belief that my current level of sins and insecurities will not and cannot threaten them.

I can’t go back, and I’m not sure I would want to.  That’s not who I am anymore.  Once you see shades of grey, it’s hard to unsee them.  It’s maybe a little easier to be likable and soft, even if it means I’m less admired and have to put up with more excrement.  It’s hard to say.  Or maybe by fighting the patriarchy harder I’d be dealing with even more -ist poo.  But at least I’d be feeling virtuous about the fight.

It’s hard to say.



(Print it out and color it in!)


  • We got a weird anti-abortion spam claiming to be from a woman with hypermesis gravadim (or however you spell that) saying that she was keeping her baby and it’s really easy to get an abortion in the US in her state and thus must be all over the US and a whole bunch of misinformation about biology… it ended spammily talking about what the person would talk about in hir next blog post (but no link to said post).  So I looked up the whois, and the spam came from the Netherlands.  What is up with *that*?  I wonder if it’s one of those whole sale copy pasting spam thingies (usually these are advertising silver, but this one didn’t have a link), only targeting any post that mentions the word “abortion.”
  • The argument that “gifted kids will do just fine in poor schools because white upper middle class kids who test well do fine no matter what” is offensive on so many levels.  (Hint:  not all gifted kids are white upper middle class kids who test well.)  Perhaps you meant to say “kids identified as gifted through poor identification mechanisms will do just fine in poor schools because white upper middle class kids who test well do fine no matter what.”  Identification as gifted is not actually the same as giftedness and failing to be identified is especially bad for those not white not upperclass gifted kids, especially the ones who don’t test well.  Those gifted kids are also especially screwed over by poor schools since they’re not getting as many second chances.
  • Another weird anti-abortion spam on that same thread, this one advertising some kind of Christian website.  Guess I’ll turn off comments on that thread.
  • Montessori is awesome because after DC2 takes pots and pans out of the cupboard and bangs on them, ze puts them back.
  • DH says, “Don’t wear your potty as a hat!”  Advice for us all.
  • It’s bad to refer to wives as trophies because the idea of a trophy wife is disgusting.  Women aren’t status symbols.  However, I think it’s ok to say a woman is a prize because it can be short for prize-winning, which means they themselves are the best, not just a symbol that her partner is the best.  But maybe we shouldn’t refer to women as prizes either.  I dunno.
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What motivates me after tenure

I was just at a conference where I get to hang out with lots of my friends.  Some of us got to talking.  They’re generally at better schools than I am and have longer and better CVs than I do.  But I’ve got tenure and they don’t have it yet.  And we were talking about trying to get stuff published and trying to find time for work… and they asked me why I care where I publish or about how much work I do because I’ve got tenure.  My school doesn’t expect as much as theirs does.  (And I have a higher teaching load and more service and a smaller salary…)

But I was never really motivated by the tenure expectations in my department.  I placed lower on the job market than most folks in my cohort, and I’ve always thought that if I did what I want and then didn’t get tenure then I’d finally be able to move to Northern California and at least live someplace nice.  I’ve always figured that if I stopped liking it, I could just leave.  If I’d gotten an offer at one of these better schools maybe I would have been more nervous, I don’t know.  (And, since getting here, the school has made a lot of really good hires, including mid-level hires with amazing CVs, and I am no longer under-placed.  I’m placed!)

What motivates me:

1.  I want to do good work.  I answer interesting (to me) questions.  I tell good (theoretical) stories with (empirical) evidence.  My work is important and it’s fascinating.

2.  People are doing things wrong and I want the profession to do things right!  Efficiently!

3.  It is a crime that nobody is answering these important questions.

4.  I kinda do like the fame and fortune aspect.  Gotta admit it.  And they give me just enough of a taste of it to make me crave more.  More.

5.  I like to watch things grow.  I want my department to do well, my school to do well, my little corner of academic research to do well.

6.  Ambition.

7.  And maybe just a bit the fact that I may need to be mobile some day, for example, if DH’s job situation changes.  And I kind of like being able to occasionally get grants to pay for RA work and summer salary.  And if they ever cross a line, I can walk and I’ll be in demand somewhere.

I used to be more motivated by being under-placed.  Sort of an, “I’ll show them!”  But I’ve kind of shown them, and, like I said, I’m no longer underplaced.  So #4 has replaced that entirely.  I probably worked a little harder when I was rage-researching, but it’s much more fulfilling to be love-researching instead.

#2 and #3 above bring me more self-confidence.  They help me talk up my work in ways that #1 doesn’t.  More of that contrarian aspect to my personality showing through.  #4 and #6 sometimes give me less self-confidence.


The answers of #2 revolve around research.  And then quitting.

What motivates you to work hard?

link love

#2 is in a car.  Driving to PARADISE.  #1 is probably in a car too, but just because it’s the weekend to visit the city, which is sadly not in paradise.

It all comes tumbling down for Mutant Supermodel.


Simple but important advice from babyattachmode


racist aliens?

this is some quality reporting

aw, adorbz

Awesome pizza box.

A manifesto for realists.

Missouri:  Trying to become the most hate-filled and embarrassing state in the union.

Ferguson’s PR team

Wife beating is not a private matter, it is a felony.

Roxanne Gay is a really good writer.

‘Originally titled, “Daddy’s Penis is Very Small,” this rousing and light-hearted look at a white family’s irrational yet crippling fear of blacks and latinos is a wonderful primer for children of all ages.’

Not sure how to feel about this one.  I think in the end though, he didn’t give the gift of divorce, his dad did.

Does gifted education work, and for who?

My undergrad had this policy.

Long workweeks and strange hours.

It’s the American Way.

Coffee quotes.

Black cowboys– prevalent but widely forgotten. Youtube has a bunch of Herb Jeffries who has a beautiful tenor.

Even more google questions

Q: sohcahtoa rhyme

A: Sin Sin Cos Cos Tan Tan… oh gee, I really can’t remember it anymore. But I also think it’s probably a little racist (in the way that camp songs from the 1950s were racist against Native Americans) and best not remembered. It’s not like it was particularly helpful anyway. I always remember that sin is on top and opposite is on top and tan doesn’t use the hypotenuse, so sin is opp/hyp, cos is what’s left which is adj/hyp, and then tan is opp/(what’s left) adj. Then it’s easy to remember that Tan = sin/cos, later when you start hardcore trig. In terms of the sum and difference formulas, nobody remembers those and I hope you get a cheat sheet on your exam. For the 360 degree thing, I like the handy menomic device: All Students Take Calculus. All are positive in the first quadrant, Sin is positive in the second, Tan is positive in the third, and Cos is positive in the fourth. (Thank you to my ex-boyfriend who taught me that, along with a horrible misogynist rhyme for remembering the colors of resistors, which is something I will likely never need to know.)

Q: comparison between investing in tiaa cref adn edward jones

A: STAY AWAY FROM EDWARD JONES!!!! TIAA CREF is actually pretty good in terms of having your best interests at heart. They’re not quite Vanguard, but they’re not particularly evil. Definitely TIAA CREF. They’re relatively low fee. Edward Jones is extremely high fee. TIAA CREF won’t push you into funds just because they line their pockets. Edward Jones will.

Q: do accountants make a good spouse

A: My MIL thinks so.

Q: how to accuse someone of lying without saying the words

A: I’m a fan of the raised eyebrow

Q: do college professors have to stay on campus dueing the summer

A: Usually no. Usually they’re not even on contract or getting paid. (They’re just doing work.)

Q: is 3 b’s in graduate school bad

A: I sure hope not!

Q: 10. what is the purpose of having insurance?

A: Yeah, this is in no way part of a take-home exam or assignment. No possible way.

Q: who do you call cutie patootie

A: My little snuggle bug. My big snuggle bug is too big for that.

Q: how to be a less grumpy mother?

A: Get more sleep?

Q: how to spend your last days of your life blog

A: Sounds like a really depressing idea for a blog. But maybe it could be inspirational.

Losing touch with friends: Drama or No biggie: A deliberately controversial post

Occasionally we’ll see a blog post or forum post in which the woman (and it’s always a woman) complains that her friends have lost touch with her and that means they’re horrible selfish people.

All of our really good friendships are ones in which people go in and out with no harm no foul. People get busy, lose touch, and when we reunite it’s like we never left off, even if it’s been 10 years.

We assume the best of everybody we (temporarily) lose touch with and assume they’re assuming the same for us.  It’s just easier that way. If that’s not what’s happening, then no big loss. The only people in our lives who get to act offended and have us take that seriously if we unintentionally ignore them are our significant others, and for #1, my kids (in theory also my mom or my sister, but they’re pretty chill so I can’t imagine that ever happening). I should not be important enough to anybody else’s well-being for me being busy to cause them to take personal offense. It’s not like this is middle school or like we’re living lives of socialites with nothing better to do but create drama.

But I do know from reading the internet that there are people who take strong offense to other people losing touch with them (or not calling, or failing to answer a text right away etc. etc. etc.). Those people are far too dramatic (or, more positively, not laid back enough) to be my friends.  Which is probably best for everybody involved.

What do you think?  Should people take offense if their friends lose touch with them?  Do you?

Recommendations for soothing novels?

You know, the kind where nothing truly bad happens, and you know everything is going to turn out ok in the end.  There’s no awful things done to women of any sort.  Any murder is off-stage before the book starts or is a murder of someone nobody (including the reader) liked.  Any dreadful dark secrets are things that happened literally centuries ago.  Often the worst thing that happens is nothing more dangerous than embarrassing oneself at a party.  Despite what Google wants me to think, they don’t have to be mystery novels!

Sometimes they’re delightful.  Sometimes they’re calming.  Sometimes they’re life-affirming.  Sometimes they’re quality, but often they’re popcorn.  The kind of book you’re not rushing to end, and you wish you could get back to during a stressful day.

Savor these:

Authors like Barbara Michaels (more than her Elizabeth Peters persona, who is excellent but not so cozy), Jane Austen, the always-beloved Georgette Heyer, and similar imitators.

Some make equally cozy movies– Cold Comfort Farm, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, The Enchanted April.

Connie Willis has a couple:  The perfect To Say Nothing of the Dog, and the more modern Bellwether.

Martha Wells! But not her more recent stuff which is dramatic and not everything works out neatly and perfectly.  But #2 just finished and really liked City of Bones. Recommended!

Kismet is fun.  :)  And the music!  And The Importance of Being Earnest.  And the Matchmaker (from whence Hello Dolly! came).  Also all excellent movies.  Well, maybe not Kismet (we may never know, as most of the movies have been lost to the sands of time), but it has a great operatic soundtrack…actually two.

Stranger at the Wedding by Barbara Hambly is a bit on the intense side for this topic (#1 thinks it’s totally appropriate, along with Bride of the Rat God which kind of fits in with Scalzi’s Agent to the Stars), but A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer is just right. (As is Sorcery and Cecelia and some of Diana Wynne Jones. Often YA is a great place for this stuff.  A lot of Nina Kiriki Hoffman stuff is life-affirming, though NOT Fall of Light which is triggery and victim-blamey) #2 has re-read the first few books of Amber in The Great Book of Amber compilation a bunch of times. Basically I find the throne war fascinating but I’m meh on the stuff that comes after. (TEAM BENEDICT 4 EVAR!)

I feel like we should have some Chick Lit here, but I never keep the Chick Lit so I don’t really know any titles.  There were a bunch of Chick Lit vampire books that we sent back and forth to each other, but I’m blanking on titles (Dead girls don’t…?).

#2 adds that Dune (#1  Dune?  Really?) and Jane Eyre are both soothing to me after years of many re-reads.  A lot of Mercedes Lackey is questionable but Arrows of the Queen and Owlsight are both familiar and therefore soothing.  Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Sayers.  Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman, because it’s nonfiction about books, which is the most soothing of all.  Sometimes nonfiction works out nicely because it’s not necessarily about any characters getting bashed on.  I also appreciate Amanda Cross’s Kate Fansler mysteries because they are full of the main character being in her head, and I am too.  You can be sure that justice and harmony will prevail in Dee Goong An (Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee).  And of course, the queen of the cozy mystery, Agatha Christie.

I need more of these.  MORE.

Gentle readers, please give me recommendations!


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