The Grumpies Weigh-in on Current Issues

Topic 1: students who don’t read the syllabus.
 (or, take your F and go away)
email me and you will see
how very angry I can be
 #2:  scary!
 #1:  I know right
 #2:  “Dr. #1 is scary.  Don’t take classes from her unless you’re really smart and responsible.”
 #1:  True story
Topic 2: Boobs.
 #1:  so who do you agree with re: boobgate, Historiann or Dr. Crazy?
 #2:  I haven’t read dr crazy yet.  I did read historiann and mildly agree with her.
 #1:  I also agree with historiann
and also understand that most people would have excused the misogyny if he’d at least been funny (and not just “women have no sense of humor” unfunny, but even unfunny to sexist men!)
 #2:  My partner chuckled occasionally, but also felt that a lot of it fell very very flat.  He remarked, “Chances that Seth McFarlane ever hosts anything again:  Approaching zero.”
#2:  I’m reading dr crazy too, and I slightly agree with her as well.
#1:  I think Dr. Crazy is right that this points out the standards of Hollywood.  But I also am fairly sure that was not Seth McFarlane’s intention.  I think that no, really, his audience is jerky 12 year old boys
#2:  actually I think it kinda WAS his intention
#1:  really?
#2:  yes, but our views are not mutually exclusive.  He could be honestly poking at Hollywood while at the same time also appealing to 12-year-olds
 #1:  and even if it did, hollywood can feel good about slamming him down and getting back to business as usual, meaning he messed up.  He needs the “wink” to show he’s being ironic.
 #2:  I feel like Seth McFarlane at the Oscars is such a tiny blip in the landscape of prevailing misogyny that I can’t get that upset about it.
 Sexist or not-sexist, I wish he had been FUNNIER
 #1:  that’s what everyone is saying!
 #2:  some parts were mildly funny
some parts… were bombs
(relatively independently of what the subject matter was)
 #1:  also I watched Will Ferrell accept the Mark Twain award, which also made me laugh and had a little bit of poking at the patriarchy in it, which was a pleasant surprise
 #2:  Yes!
 #1:  the steve martin/alec baldwin intro to the oscars was not actually particularly politically correct, but it sure was funny
 #2:  ah, see, here:  I agree with Flavia:  “I actually wasn’t particularly bothered by the “boobs” number. It was the casual, relentless misogyny in the rest of MacFarlane’s act that did it for me. Like his description of “Zero Dark Thirty” as testimony to women’s ability “to never, ever let anything go.” Like his saying that it didn’t matter if we can understand a word Salma Hayek or Penelope Cruz say, because they’re great to look at. And on, and on. “
 #1:  right
 #2:  right
the boobs number was actually somewhat amusing.  The “women can’t let go” joke was offensive.
 #1:  I don’t think seth mcfarlane was trying to point out misogyny– I think he just is a misogynist
 #2:  he can be both.
 #1:  well, I meant boob controversy as teh whole thing
he lives and breathes misogyny
can’t help it
 #2:  and here is where I agree with dr. crazy:  “And so, while I don’t think that McFarlane was a laugh riot, and I am deeply suspicious of the way that irony is used as an alibi for sexism these days, I didn’t find him demonstrably more offensive than most of the pop culture that I encounter on a daily basis.”
 #1:  no, it was obviously the combination with being offensive and not being funny
even ricky gervais was forgiven for skewering hollywood becasue more folks found him hilarious
Topic 3:  Creepy education.
 #1:  I think that this is a good idea:  but MUST we start an article about education with an assassination analogy?  I think that’s tasteless.
 #2:  more than a bit creepy
 #1:  yes
 #2: intro analogies are pretty bad journalism anyway
 #1:  goddamn, I know.

Ponderings on perfection

One of DC1′s classmates is a doctor married to another doctor.  (Her youngest is best friends with my oldest– they skipped first grade together.)  Dr. Bestfriendsmom is also gifted with organizational and artistic abilities.  Her kids seem similarly endowed and often win the school-wide art contests.

Dr. Bestfriendsmom also throws amazing parties.  She knows interesting people, both with kids and without, even though they’ve only been living here a couple of years.  She and her husband are both total extroverts.  Their parties are honestly the only ones we’ve really enjoyed (including the ones we throw) since our odd assortment of non-work friends graduated, getting their PhDs, and moved to other states.

The children’s parties that Dr. Bestfriendsmom throws are generally themed.  She does the decorations.  (She makes pinatas in her hotel room on conference trips.)  She does the baking.  (The baking can include 30+ gingerbread houses made from scratch.)  She’s totally amazing.  A non-anal Martha Stewart.

At the last party, other mothers tried to engage me and did engage each other with catty comments about Dr. Bestfriendsmom and her over-the-top baking.  I responded with earnest, “It’s totally amazing,” and “DC1 is loving this” kinds of comments.  Mentally narrowing the eyes in my mind while doing so (the eyes on my face got wider and more innocent looking).

I don’t get the vitriol.  The jealousy.  Why are people so hostile when presented with someone who is awesome?  Why do they feel like they have to tear someone down who is just trying to do things well?

I don’t particularly want to be her… crafts are not my thing even if I had artistic ability.  (Also:  it is my understanding that MDs have to deal with blood.  Urp!)  So much extroversion would tire me out.  But I appreciate that there’s someone in our life who puts in that kind of effort to throw a big party and to make sure her guests are having a great time.

It could be that I don’t feel jealous precisely because I don’t particularly want to be a crafty person who throws awesome parties (though I appreciate being invited to them!).  But I also look up to the awesome women in my field who are at better schools and more published than I am, even though I do want to be them!  I strive for their accomplishments and I appreciate the way they’re opening doors for all women.  (Come to think of it, the ex-friend whose therapist told her to stop talking to me often took instant dislikes to some of these shooting stars, and also accused me of being jealous of her own success.)

Maybe it’s a fixed mind-set vs. growth mind-set thing.  I assume that with enough concentrated effort I could do things, or at least do more things, so there’s no need to tear anybody down to my level.  But really I have no idea.

Sylvia:  The woman who does everything so much better than you do.
Also Historiann’s recent series on Hillary Clinton.  (Another awesome woman.)

Why do you think some people hate perfection?  Do you?

This is why we can’t have nice things.

This [grant thing] that [redacted] has is really stupid.  So much bad science to “further women and minorities”.  Reading through their annual report and it’s thing after thing of, “We had this workshop, but nobody came.”  They’re also not checking to see if anything works even when people do come.  There’s not even data collected before and after to see if there’s even a change, much less a treatment effect.  There was one thing where they’re like, “we were going to do this survey but…”  They sent the report to me to evaluate, but the entire campus was “treated” and uh… the treatment seems to have been nothing.

Bad science makes the baby Jesus cry.  Poor baby Jesus.
They seem to have a lot of meetings too.  So basically, trying to further the careers of women and minorities at this school consists of making them go to pointless meetings.
See, this is why women and minorities can’t have nice things.


(Note:  Some details in the above rant have been changed to protect both the stupid and our own rear ends.)
Are you ever astonished by the amount of bad science done for a good cause?  Have you ever noticed that it’s always the under-represented who have to waste time in meetings?

Does living frugally mean you should settle for a smaller salary?

Something that people who follow YMoYL note from time to time is that if you don’t spend much, you don’t need to make as much to become financially independent.  You can choose to do jobs that don’t pay as well, to follow your muse, save the world, that sort of thing.

One thing that is noted is that you can make a big sacrifice by choosing a career that helps people and makes you feel warm and fuzzy rather than one that rakes in the big bucks… teaching in an inner-city school instead of in a highly paid suburban district, for example.

Of course, if you make a super big salary, you can do a lot more charitable giving, enough that could actually make a real difference on its own.

Should you settle for a smaller salary just because you can?  That depends on what your trade-offs are. If you’re really into something that a lot of other people are into and doesn’t pay well… like art, then yes, settling for feeding your muse may be worth it.  (Though note:  Scalzi doesn’t think a person should get paid less than 20cents/word for freelance, but he’s also not beneath taking technical writing assignments!).  If a smaller salary means you get something tangible like a more flexible schedule or the ability to work fewer hours per week, sure.

However, if living frugally means you’re allowing yourself to be exploited… no, we don’t think that’s a good idea.  Obviously, you do have agency, and you are allowed to make that decision to be exploited if you’re conflict-averse, if you don’t mind the negative spillovers being a doormat has on other people who don’t want to be doormats and so on (we’re ambivalent about choice feminism here at Grumpy Rumblings)… But we’d like to remind you that money buys goods and services.  Living frugally means that you can use your extra money that you deserve by being a productive person to help make the world a better place.  You don’t just have to spend it on yourself.  There are better ways to make sacrifices than by accepting a lower salary just because you can.

Motherhood Online: A book review

We  were sent Motherhood Online by the editor, Michelle Moravec.

This book is a scholarly academic tome, but even given that, there are only two articles in it that I would call inaccessible to non-academic readers.  (And those two articles are both short and probably inaccessible to most academic readers as well.)  Non-academic readers will find the first section just as amusing and the second and third sections just as interesting as this academic reader.

The book starts out with case studies that will be familiar to anyone who has ever been on a pregnancy or mothering forum.  It does seem that if you’ve been on one of these forums, you’ve really been on all of the forums, for all the differences we perceive between the mothering.coms and the babycenters of the world, the dynamics are not that much different, even across forums from different countries.  Oddly, this section is titled “Theoretical perspectives” but is, for the most part, a-theoretical and, for the most part, focuses on each author’s own experiences with an online parenting community.

The second section… titled, “Case studies” includes articles with a broader theory base, more formal qualitative methods, and comparisons across different cases.  This second section focuses on communities that many of us have had less experience with, but are interesting in their own rights.  I especially enjoyed the studies of teenage mothers, autistic parents, port-wine stain, stay-at-home dads, and really most of the articles in this section.  I felt like I learned something reading many of these articles.

The last section focuses on blogs and community, with the stand-out piece being one on the community of people from developed countries who use (employ?) Indian women as surrogate mothers.

Although the introduction focuses on the positives to these online communities, the articles themselves are even-handed with both the positives (community building, information sharing, support) and the negatives (conflict, incorrect information, rationalization, etc.)  The authors come from a number of different disciplines, including communication, sociology, public health, anthropology, history and others.  These different disciplinary paths and perspectives come across in the methodology and writing.  Obviously we feel more comfortable with the social scientist methodologies, but other disciplines provide for entertaining reading and discussion.

Is this worth reading?  Sure!  Especially if you’re into non-fiction and would like to think a bit about they dynamics of online communities.  The book includes a nice collection of articles that, should, for the most part, be as easy to read as a Malcolm Gladwell book, but with perhaps a few more citations included.

Extreme Patriarchy-Induced Rage (now decaf!)

Quality ranting in today’s instant-messaging:

I should probably not talk to people while I am cutting back on caffeine for the summer.  Also it’s possible I shouldn’t make a major life decision while pissed off about travel and things.

#2: why are you pissed off about travel?
#1: because it sucks ass to get to and from Blighted Town.  It’s super-expensive and massively inconvenient.  Also I maybe shouldn’t make a major decision while detoxing off caffeine.  did I mention we went to another wedding this weekend
#2: ick, caffeine detox
  no wonder you haven’t been up
#1: my favorite person in the dept is leaving here because her hubby can’t get a job here.  and I feel like the seniors in the dept hate me and they’re not retiring
#2: nobody could hate you
  maybe they have bitch faces
 #1: wrong. they are crazy mad insane people and they hate me because of no reason. But they do.
if they have bitch faces, they must also have bitch sentences.
#2:  ha!

#1:  sorry, I’m really really ragey right now due to my mom’s IMing me in the other window about how people screw her over and SHE LETS THEM

#2: my mom is IMing me about how she’s almost done with her revision for a book chapter.  She’s working on the citations

#1: see, my mom is IMing me about how her male authors don’t do the revisions on the book chapters, so she has to, because her boss accepts sub-par work from authors.  my mom does the citations for men. Because her boss lets it be that way.
  my mom, BTW, is not a secretary.
#2: My mom used to be more of a pushover, but since they were assholes when she got breast cancer, she’s gotten less doormatty.
#1: I don’t understand why I have to produce publishable work in order to get published, but other people don’t!
 #2: Because you’re a young woman?
#1: other people get my mom to fix it for them!
#2: It isn’t fair. Though I bet you could get your mom to fix things for you.
 #1: my mom wouldn’t fix MY papers when I was a KID IN SCHOOL! she made me do it myself!  she did proofread part of my dissertation, but she damn sure didn’t do the citations for me.
#2: obviously she’s only a doormat for men.
  hm, your mom is part of the patriarchy?
#1: patriarchy combined with lack of caffeine makes me extra-ragey.
 #2: Perhaps I’m being too mean. [#1 doesn't think so]  But seriously, I’m glad my mom isn’t a doormat anymore.
#1: mostly, my mom’s BOSS is patriarchy. My mom knows this is wack but refuses to change. She is patriarchy too, but less so.  I wish my mom would quit being so patriarchy. She raised us to do better than that.
#2: you should tell her that.
#1: WTF second-wave feminists who taught me that I’m as good as a man but apparently don’t actually live that.
#2: “Mom, I’m sorry to have to say this, but you’re setting a bad example.”
#1: I’ve tried.  but she also has low self-confidence about her awesome skills and ability to get a different job if this one lets her go. Which if they have any brains they won’t because she works like a workhorse and for cheap.
#2: ridiculous
  but I suppose it provides health insurance
#1: how the F*CK can we make OTHER people pay us what we’re WORTH when some people think it’s totally ok for a woman to get treated like a doormat? As long as there are some doormats, the rest of us get trampled too.
#2: it is true.   we get blowback for not being not doormats
#2: exactly!  My mom says she wishes your mom were her editor.
 #1: my mom doesn’t seem to understand why I’m so mad about her job. It’s because she’s teaching men that a woman will do their work for them, and then I have to deal with the little shits in my classroom.
#2: yup
 #1: I told her that but she doesn’t believe it’s anyone’s fault but their parents. HELLO you are a parent too.
 #2: My mother agrees with you.  I’m sorry that your mom is a tool for the Man.
#1: maybe your mom and my mom should swap jobs for a week. My mom can write things. Your mom can be an editor that’s not a doormat.
 #2: She wouldn’t though.
 #1: the pay isn’t good enough!
p.s.  Sorry Mom, I know that patriarchy is a system, not just you.  There are many systematic forces going on here.  I love you even though you annoy me.
Grumpy Readers, Does it bother you when other people are used by the system (and have given up on trying to stop being used)?  Does it matter if the person is a loved one?

Cleanliness is next to cleanser in the dictionary: a deliberately controversial post

Why do we have to train our kids to want to be tidy?

Yes, we need our kids to be polite and respectful of others’ spaces.  They need to know the basics of how to clean a floor or a dish or make a bed or whatever, because some day they may be a guest in someone else’s house and when you’re in someone else’s house you need to be a good guest.   But why do they need to get uneasy, unhappy, upset, etc. when a room isn’t clean?  Isn’t the ability to deal with a little bit of mess a much more important skill than the need to make sure a room is clean?

Many (but not all) women I talk to can’t even comprehend this idea.  They look at me like I’m nuts.  Eyes narrow.  Conversation gets really awkward.  Cleanliness really is next to Godliness and is something we should all be striving for and God hates those who don’t clean up after themselves.  Usually it’s women who are SAHM or who are WOHM but always stressed out and complaining about not having any time and having husbands who don’t help out enough that are most unable to comprehend the idea.   Really, just let things go.  It may even help your relationship!

(For some reason, I’ve never met a man, other than the rare case who has been formally diagnosed with OCD, who seems to have this hang-up.   A pathology in men is the social norm for women.  IBTP.  Also:  think about the implications this situation has for gender division of chores in a game theoretic framework.  The person who cares is the one who does the work.  The one who does the housework gets to relax less at home.  And bam, you’ve just supported a Gary Becker hypothesis about wage-gender differentials.)

But I think they *can’t* let things go because having things cluttered really bothers them.  It gets down deep into the craw.  And yet they want their children to have the same disability.  The same visceral need to have the place be spotless.  As if it’s a virtue.

I don’t mind a house being clean, but I don’t mind it being messy either.  Messy houses are more comfortable.  Clean houses are more like places one goes to visit.  Both have their virtues, but neither one bothers me.  Obviously there’s a problem with broken glass, rusty nails, excrement etc… but that kind of thing is not going to be an issue with the average family (even if news reports make that kind of thing seem more common).

We don’t have a house-cleaner.  We don’t need our house to be spotless.  We don’t need it to be tidy.  If company comes, we clean.  If stuff is in the way on the floor, it gets moved out of the way.   It doesn’t take that much cleaning to make sure that the kitchen and bathrooms aren’t going to be giving anyone salmonella.  Things that need to be found in a hurry are organized (like spices or paperwork).  But that level of cleanliness sure as heck doesn’t require the fly-lady.  Or spending $80/week on a cleaner.

Disclaimer:  We are NOT saying there’s something wrong with you if your house is clean.  If you have the time or the money and it’s something you value, go for it.  But if you don’t have either and it’s stressing you out, we feel bad for you.  Sure, one solution might be to somehow find time, money or family support to get things shiny, but another is to work on being more comfortable with something less than perfection.  And the ability to live with imperfection is a gift we should give all our daughters (and sons).

Does your house have to be clean?  Do you need to train your kids to become neat and tidy?  Does a made bed (Gretchin Rubin’s hang-up) or kitchen sink you can see your face in (flylady’s thing) make that stress you didn’t know you had go away?  Are you unable to function in a cluttered environment?  Do you worry about “what others must think”?  Does a messy house make you feel like less of a person… less of a woman?

Are you supposed to pretend everything’s perfect or pretend everything’s screwed up?

I read a comment that says that women are supposed to show that they’re always happy and everything is perfect, and they’re not allowed to complain.

I must be reading the wrong internet.

Either that or that’s only true of 1.  women before they have children or 2. religious SAHM (I did read something regarding that, though I’m not sure how valid it is… probably depends on the cultural norms of the religion).

In any case, it seems to be the opposite to me– if you want people to not attack you on the ‘net, you gotta pretend you’re not happy.  Even if you are.  Because otherwise it’s your fault that other people are feeling bad by comparison.

I went through a period of my life in which I felt guilty for being perfect and was constantly trying to find fault in myself to make other people feel better about themselves.  Guess what, it didn’t work and it made me miserable.

Being self-confident and acknowledging my awesomeness, and, importantly, the awesomeness of others, gets out of that crabs in a bucket framework and helps build everybody up.  I’m awesome and you’re awesome too, even if you don’t realize it yet.  We can all be more awesome, and one day we will, because how could we not?  There’s so much awesomeness to build from.

Grumpy readers, do you think society forces women to pretend that they’re happy or that they’re unhappy?  Are there differences in these pressures between IRL and the internet?  Are there different expectations by cultural context?  For example, are working moms supposed to be harried and not keeping it together but professional single women are supposed to have it all figured out?  Or is there a “damned whatever you do” of competing pressures?  (If there is, we recommend acknowledging your awesomeness since if you can’t win, you might as well be confident about it.)

Help us think this one out.

The Bitch Face

Who here has a bitch face?  I’m talking about the face you make when you’re thinking about something, or just relaxed, or trying to figure something out, or listening attentively, and then people think you’re mad at them.

Only women have to modulate our facial expressions when we’re trying to figure out some important scientific theory or risk being called a bitch.  WHAT THE HELL, YO.  Stupid patriarchy.  Only in a patriarchy can we not even think without enacting femininity, or else.  My thoughts are my own and not everything is about you.  Students expect women faculty to be expressing care for them, in a way that I don’t do and in a way that is not expected from men.

If I am mad at you, I’ll tell you.  If my face seems to be scowling, I am probably just thinking.  It’s not your right to have women smile at you all the time!  When I’m thinking hard, I’m really not monitoring my facial expression, because that takes processing power I don’t feel like stealing from my thoughts, and also I don’t care about whether you think I’m nice.  (Except, sadly, my tenure committee does.)  I’m not a rude person and I don’t behave inappropriately at work.  But I do, on the good days, think about things at work.

This is just what my face looks like.  It is here for me, not to make you happy.  In what world would a man be criticized for what his face looks like, and it would have any effect on his career?  Grrrr.

and in other news:

Believe it.

Who’s with me on the rage?

Ask the Grumpies: How do you defeat the patriarchy?

Rumpus asks:

So you blame the patriarchy. I think I get that, even in my mostly befuddled state. I dislike unjust treatment, especially when people are making it unjust. I still don’t get what to do about it. What do you do to make things better? And where do you draw the line between helping things be more just versus becoming labeled and then disregarded?

If we knew the answer, we’d do it!

One thing we can do is examine our own words and actions and question implicit assumptions that other people show through their words and actions.  We can gently or not so gently educate.  We can refuse to feel guilty for being awesome, and let people know that we refuse.  We can encourage other people to find their own awesome.  Sometimes we can do this without being labeled, and sometimes people will label us and ignore us.  But we can still keep pushing, because it is the right thing to do and sometimes it is all we can do.

Gumpy Nation:  How do you battle the patriarchy?


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