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bear by san

March 2017



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sf sapphire and steel winning

The real offence, as she ultimately perceived, was her having a mind of her own at all.

Her mind was to be his — attached to his own like a small garden-plot to a deer-park.

With thanks to the mighty commodorified, please to read synecdochic's excellent essay on How Not To Be That Guy.

It will explain, in painstaking detail, both why I tend to go ballistic on people who are a little pushy with their advice, and also why so many people were very very upset about the OSBP proposal. (If you don't know about that, here's the post I've seen that most successfully, for me, discusses same.)*

Money shot, as jaylake would say (And yes, I typed that in full consciousness of the irony thereof):

You are never going to eliminate all of the unconscious assumptions that your privilege -- whatever that privilege might be -- has programmed you with. You do not have to devote your entire life to crusading against sexism or racism or ableism any other kind of -ism there is. What makes you not That Guy is recognizing that you have that privilege, that your experience is not everyone's experience, and -- this is the critical part -- not assuming or behaving as though your perspective is the only perspective and anyone who doesn't match it is wrong.

Additional reading:

Los Angeles Times piece on Men Who Explain Things, which explains (hah!) with case studies why exactly it is that sometimes this behavior comes across as condescending or unwelcome. If you are a Man Who Explains Things, go read it. It may produce healing.**

timjr with a very handy field guide for the geeky boy on How To Talk To Girls At Parties Conventions. (Please don't complain at either me or the nice young man that Men Should Just Know This Stuff. If men just knew this stuff, we wouldn't need to bitch that They Should Just Know This Stuff.)

*(Now if somebody would only write a similar guide for people who would like to teach you how to care for your new piercing/new baby, life would be grand. Get the hell off my lawn!)

**NB: People who explain things in their own LJ/Blog/whatever, or when asked to explain them, are exempt from this categorization. Listening to actual experts talk about what they do is almost always interesting. Even if you don't know a damned thing about it. Having just recently spent hours reading BASE jumping boards and articles, trust me, even the impenetrable bits were interesting.


The first link isn't working.

Great compilation -- thanks.
Fixed now!

Sometimes, semagic does a weird thing with the cut and paste.
You know, there are so many damned things that we are supposed to just know. Not only as a guy, but as a person. I want a manual, a localized human society user's manual.
Seriously. As a badly socialized adult, I want one too.
Good links. They have good things in them.
Just for purposes of being a grumpy old man and talking from the perspective of advanced age, I'll argue that "that guy" can be female...
synechdochic points that out too, in the introduction to the linked post.
Thank you for that link: I have spread it to the limits of my Internets.
*(Now if somebody would only write a similar guide for people who would like to teach you how to care for your new piercing/new baby

WRT new baby, the incomparable Diane Wiessinger already has -- well, not a guide for the advice-givers (duct tape is really the only solution), but for the moms.

Good advice for anyone making any sort of decision for themselves, really. I apply it to everything.
I love that Men Who Explain Things piece. We used to call that kind of behavior "Male Answer Syndrome". $DEITY forbid some men I know should be without an answer/not get the last word or their wangs will fall off.
Me, too. I am planning on sending my husband a link to it, because while our issues with his explaining are somewhat different, he does insist on explaining a lot, and in ways that do derail the conversations. Not to mention boring me horribly. yeah, he's a great guy in many ways, but damn, that behavior is annoying!
*is pleased to know somebody mighty*
Thank you for the links. Last year about this time i had a horrible experience in a discussion group online, and Men Who Explain Things helped me understand a bit better what happened. Some guy had said that there was something intrinsic to the act of sex that required submission on the part of the female, and when I said, "That my be true under certain circumstances, but not for all women all the time" I was totally dog-piled. I had a guy explaining Jungian Archetypes to me like I was a child. He completely ignored the existence of other archetypes, and got really, really upset. Everyone seemed to assume I was a woman with some traumatic "issues" but accused me of psychoanalyzing THEM when I mentioned the vagina dentata and so forth. Of course, the main offender was a guy with a history of sexual abuse as a child, and I was very careful NOT to bring that up or use it against him. Because, you know, only women have crazy hang-ups about sex. Argh.

It was horrible and traumatic and troubling, and until I read over some of those links I thought I was the only woman crap like that had ever happened to.

You are not the only woman to whom that happens.
Oh, this is very, very good! Wonderful articles. Thank you for posting!
I did like the articles, though I didn't leave any of them without some questions or reservations.

I'm really not fond of the term "allies" when discussing feminism.

While I think the first post is valuable and I agree with the majority of it, its construction comes very close to shutting down my ability to disagree with any specific points. Parts of it read as Catch 22ish since I'm not a woman. (That said, I'm still sending my young feminist or struggling to be feminist friends here. Semantic traps and all.)
This is somewhat OT, but reading elisem's posts on cultural inflections in communication (including indirect/nonverbal communication, and vast differences in when it is considered OK to be indirect) has made me reflect on possible cultural differences regarding when it is OK to give unsolicited advice or be pushy with it. In some cultures it's almost a requirement, much more so than in US culture, in others it is much more a no-no.

I suspect US culture is still by and large one of the no-no cultures. We talk pretty freely about interventions today and how it's one's duty, etc., but how people behave in a real or perceived urgent situation may be a category unto itself irrespective of cultural factors (Your Pick--Kitty Genovese's Neighbor or Othello! Fun Either Way). Probably it would be most useful to consider how people behave in quote-unquote normal situations, in order to tell the extent to which, in a particular culture, other people's business is one's own. (And I'm not sure the internet has made as much of a difference as all that; it's still regarded as too much of a special case. E.g., there's the viewpoint that if one posts something on the Net one is automatically making it public and soliciting responses, which certainly isn't how people intend it in a lot of cases.)

One thing it's important to remember is that in this culture there is a lot of surface intimacy with people one really doesn't know all that well, and who one doesn't expect to give advice in return for venting, etc. So although people from other countries say that Americans let everything hang out, we don't really in that we don't expect disclosure to give other people the right to reflect back on the disclosure--which right does give people a certain amount of power. In cultures where people see more of their family than anyone else, and/or where only the closest friends outside their own family would know anything sufficiently personal about them, personal disclosure is more often assumed to imply a right to comment and give (or push) advice, because it only happens in relationships where there might be that right. This availability to select others is counterbalanced by the vast majority of people knowing nothing (at least not by one's choice) and not having any such rights. Nobody could be as available to others as Americans are in terms of casual friendship and give that many people the same right to comment on one's life.

Edited at 2008-05-02 05:39 am (UTC)
I don't know if it's a cultural thing or not, or if it's more that I have a weird brain and take a lot of things very literally, but if someone tells me something sufficiently personal I feel as if their life has been put in my hands. It really hasn't been, and I'm trying to convince myself of that and not feel bad about keeping a distance, which is actually what I prefer to do.

Edited at 2008-05-02 05:45 am (UTC)
This may sound weird, but I sometimes fear that I'm a Man Who Explains Things. The weird being because I haven't got the anatomy, nor plans to obtain said anatomy; the not-so-weird because I'm not exactly quite perfectly female either regardless of the letter on my birth certificate, and because, also, my father is like that and I talk like my father.

So I had some trepidation in clicking on the article. It alleviated some of my fears: I sometimes blithely wander in and drop cartons of information all over everyone like some kind of data-happy rescue helicopter, but I also back off and/or shut up when someone else obviously has more information or different valid information, and modify my views and/or my willingness to dispense them accordingly.

I'm sort of expecting life to be a giant computer program that everyone's simultaneously building variants of. I don't know what those guys in the article are expecting. I find it troubling to try to get into their mindset.

I have been trying to cure myself of the habit of trying to get the last word: even if I'm doing it by restating other people's points or summing up both sides of the discussion, it still doesn't necessarily serve a purpose. I think if I were building a computer program for reals, that would be the point at which I'd be incorporating things from other people's versions into my own, but that doesn't mean the room needs to hear about it.