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[Xmca-l] Re: Collaboration
That's really helpful Annalisa, thank you. I totally agree that
first-person (possibly emotionally risky) accounts are necessary if we are
to truly deal with the problematic aspects of mansplaining or any other
apparent pattern of discourse that functions to oppress or dominate.
I want to clarify for everyone, very quickly, that my suggesting that
written conversation can be more psychologically safe in certain ways was
intended more as an initial lead-in for extending the earlier conversation
to include issues surrounding written discourse, not any kind of overall
opinion about whether it is "better" in this regard. When I question "the
degree to which these [problematic, whether gendered or not] dynamics
remain the same...for worse or better," I am saying that I'm honestly *not
sure* what is gained and lost for any particular individual, what ends up
being more and less restrictive. I was partly thinking of the Virginia
Woolf example and how writing can sometimes provide a "room of one's own"
where speaking is suppressed, but that perhaps this comes with a certain
price as well. I was also thinking of my own experience, how writing has
felt both more psychologically safe (because I can micromanage my side of
the conversation and don't need to worry about the mechanics of timing and
voice clarity, which has been a big barrier for me in groups), and less
safe (because once you've written something, it's out there in stone to be
picked apart). With respect to gendered discourse in different venues, I
was actually writing the last post with a personal example in mind, which
ironically I had opted not to include because I was afraid of going on too
long. Maybe I'll throw it in now.
I have been struck by how, if I am conversing online with someone I know is
female, her written speech *looks *more female: the colors associated with
various words might have more "girl" colors, the shape of the words feels
different somehow. At the same time, any female voice following along in my
head is more of an underlying echo/double exposure lacking the physical
presence of someone speaking with me face-to-face, and it's easier to focus
on the content of written words and abstract away from gender. But it's
also easier to abstract whatever "femaleness" I do still perceive in a way
that further distorts and stereotypes it, since I don't have the reality of
the actual person standing before me to help ground the interaction. And
then there's my own voice talking back, which makes me feel "male" in a
different kind of way writing than when I'm speaking and listening to my
own voice. So there's all sorts of stuff going on in written conversation
with males and females, impacting me and leading me to impact others in
ways that are very different from how this plays out in spoken
conversation. Am I embarrassed to admit I sometimes see girl colors? A
little. Is gender the only way to frame what I'm experiencing? Of course
not. But it's not irrelevant either. As for how these associations affect
the way I actually treat others in conversation - I'll need to think more
about that (or have someone else tell me!).
I guess I wanted to introduce the speaking vs. writing issue because we
are, after all, talking about all of this online.
On Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 12:11 PM, Annalisa Aguilar <email@example.com> wrote:
> Hi Christopher, Greg, Larry, and esteemed others,
> I did post a new thread called "The manologue," which links to the NYT
> article on "mansplaining," with the idea of taking the topic to a new
> In the article there are several links to studies on what I think could be
> safely called gendered speech patterns.
> Like from Harvard
> and Yale:
> There are other studies in the article.
> I would like to offer that as I think about it, mansplaining is not just
> interrupting. It's domination through speech, it's also a kind of
> intellectual censorship, if we accept the relationship between thought and
> The word "mansplaining" seems to have been coined by Rebecca Solnit, who
> wrote a book about it, though I'm not sure if she came up with the word or
> it just erupted into feminist consciousness when her book "Men explain
> things to me" came out.
> She was motivated to write the book out of an experience she had while in
> conversation with a woman friend at a party with a fellow there. Somehow,
> as conversations go, a topic from one of her books came up (River of
> Shadows –which is a great book about partnership of technology and venture
> capital, the railroads, and California culture). Anyway, this fellow told
> her that this book just came out about that topic, called River of Shadows.
> And he catapulted into a manologue about the book, not letting her get a
> word in to say that she was the author of the book. I think at some point
> she finally got to say, "Yes, I know, I wrote that book." But he didn't
> hear her. And continued explaining her book to her. It was her friend who
> had to interrupt her and say to him somewhat forcefully that Rebecca wrote
> the book.
> It might be interesting to learn if any women on this list have ever had
> such experiences, but then who would want to admit it on a listserv? It
> makes one seem like a cry baby to say "I'm frequently being interrupted and
> it drives me crazy." Which implies, "Well, maybe you don't have anything
> important to say and it has nothing to do with your gender?"
> It's a can of worms, but like all problems they must be named before they
> can be solved.
> Certainly, it is likely that there will be discomfort for anyone of
> privilege who gets to have their say without interruption while examining
> this topic. But it remains necessary to pass through the discomfort if we
> are going to become aware of the problems together and to be able to
> discuss them freely. In addition, if we really believe in social justice
> and what it means in an everyday experience, then it means listening to
> those individuals who feel impinged upon.
> Also, in your everyday experience, maybe if you notice such patterns, you
> can advocate for those who aren't being given the attention to be heard.
> That is, if it is a topic that you come to care about.
> Really it's about creating psychological safety to be able to discuss it.
> I hope that the list here is one of those places, but who knows?
> Unfortunately one of the strange outcomes in the public discourse of
> mansplaining is that some men start to explain what it is, rather than try
> to understand what it is and what women are saying about it, how it makes
> them feel. If you look at the comments section in the NYT article you'll
> see what I mean. I'm not so sure that men can explain what it is like for
> women, just like whites cannot explain to African Americans what black
> experience is; it would be a little bit rude, just a little. So I think
> rather than try to explain what mansplaining is (as if it were an
> intellectual exercise), it might be more worthwhile to speak about the
> experience from the first person rather than the second or third. Does that
> In other words, rather than feel the heat of the spotlight of the Laurence
> Olivier character in Marathon Man upon you, while he twists a dental tool
> in his hand, repeating, "Is it SAFE?" Why not reflect on what you yourself
> notice and how it makes you feel? I'd say it's perfectly safe to admit that
> it makes you feel uncomfortable to think you might be participating, if
> that's the case, for example. I think it's more productive than saying
> gendered patterns are going a step too far, since clearly there is
> something going on. At least enough for people to be studying it and come
> up with findings. But do we have to even have a study to legitimize this?
> Did we need to do a study to learn that African Americans are not treated
> equally in this country?
> Not that I am suggesting to anyone how to act or feel about this topic.
> Having the courage to speak in the first person is a great first step, even
> if it is saying, "Gee I never thought about this before. I'm going to
> notice if I participate in this pattern, or how I feel when I witness the
> interruption patterns that prevail when women try to speak."
> And yes, I don't believe that speech domination has to be limited to
> gender. Kids who grow up to be seen not heard would be an expression of
> this same dynamic. I also don't think there is a chromosomal explanation
> why men behave this way, which is why I think something can be done about
> Kind regards on a Thursday,