Shoes, Feet And American Feminism

When I was fourteen or so, I was listening to an American comedian and he said that “America is the only matriarchy in which women feel the need to complain about being oppressed.”

At the time I knew clear nothing about America, or how it was different from Portugal, so the joke went absolutely wide of the mark. But over the years of living here, it keeps coming back to mind at all sorts of times.

Look, I’m not saying that some women didn’t have a terrible time in the US, or that women weren’t discriminated against in the region they grew up in. The US is a massive place both in territory and population. It is possible to come across families whose idea of the relations between the sexes is practically Elizabethan. It is possible to come across towns/areas that are very sure women should be seen and not heard. I’ll point out that these days the first of those are very covert, and the second almost non-existent.

I’ll also point out that in the US, in 37 years, I’ve come across more tyrannical females than males, partly because the leadership and the myth is that women are oppressed (the myth is stuck circa IMAGINARY 1950s) and therefore any man pulling the sh*t women pull, from physical violence to actual “rule with an iron fist by psychological torture” in their families, jobs and circles, would be crucified in the public square.

In fact, it’s gotten so the only men who get away with being abusive/complete assholes are psychopaths who just don’t care and area good at putting a good face on it. (Which yes, means the cases there are are really, really horrific.) And the only women consistently victimized are NICE women, or those so broken they can’t find the door to escape.

But does that stop women bitching, moaning and complaining their heads off? Oh, deary me no. Because the Myth is stuck circa the IMAGINARY 50s, and they want you to know they’ve suffered.

Being a victim is cool. It excuses all your failures, it washes away all your short comings, it gives you permission to be a head-on-fire vindictive bitch and gets you declared Stunningbrave for saying things that will have absolutely no bad consequences.

And I’m sick and tired of it.

Look, I know the past confined women more, okay, but I still think these people have no idea and would have melted growing up in Portugal, which was nowhere near as repressive as most other Latin countries, let alone places like Middle-Eastern countries (excepting Israel.)

And I’m getting tired of what I’d call “Grubbing for oppression in my memories.”

I swear to heck that there isn’t a single SF/F panel I attended where — usually on a tangential point — a woman older than I (five to ten years) doesn’t get up and go “Well, when I was in eighth grade my math teacher told me women aren’t good at math, and I should pursue English” or something like.

I guess this is meant to absolve them from not being physicists. And look, it’s not that women aren’t as good, it’s that most women — as far as we can determine, in countries where people are free to choose — prefer people-related or language-related professions. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that, and we don’t need oppression to explain it. There are several evolutionary reasons we can guess at, and others. Again, no “OPPRESSION” necessary.

For the love of mush, my entire schooling (except for the all-girls’ school which was its own form of hell) I got looked at weirdly, and had teachers trying to figure out how I was “cheating” because I out-performed boys. Discouraging comments? Every day. Jokes about women’s mental prowess from complete strangers? check. And yet, I continued in school and pursued an education.

Honestly, I don’t even remember most of the put downs, though one sticks in my mind as hilarious: STEM club. Visiting physicist explains how to solve something. Then calls me, the only girl in the room. I go up front and demonstrate. At which point he says “So, I guess everyone understood.” Because it was assumed I was the lowest common denominator there.

Am I scarred by this? WHY SHOULD I BE? They neither stole from me nor broke my leg. It got as tedious as middle class American women complaining of the oppression of childhood, but you know, you roll your eyes and drive on. I knew that was the assumption of the culture, so why should it bother me? Precisely? I also knew it was false, and proved it routinely, so who cares what idiots thought? (I mean there wasn’t even Facebook, so I couldn’t amuse myself beating them up.)

I’ve always suspected these “harrowing examples of oppression” came from people who were too well off and too well treated to know they were alive.

Which brings me to the latest example, and I won’t name the author, but the thread immediately became infested with SF/F women bragging of overcoming patriarchy (one of them by marrying a woman, because, you know, lesbianism is apparently intentional and an achievement. Rolls eyes. I didn’t tell her some of the girliest girls I knew were lesbians. Never mind.)

The question posed begged it, because it asked, obviously with disapproval/tone of “see how we suffered” how many women had endured charm school/finishing school/coming out.

My first response on the thread was sort of a warning shot, that went unheeded. Something along the lines of “my parents never taught me manners, I had to learn them myself.” But it was half joking (if true.)

And yet they continued. Muh oppression, in being taught the unconscious signals of the upper class went on and on and on.

I get it that women went to this, not young men. Though young men of a certain class were definitely also taught in “How to behave” and it was often a much, much harsher school.

I get they were taught “highly gendered” ways to behave. Most of them were taught this at a time when the sexes dressed differently which also brought on different behaviors (cross your legs at the ankles when wearing skirts. Took me till my thirties to learn that, and I learned it from a casual reference in a book.)

I also get these women are also Odds by and large, or even more non-functional, so they resented and hated this social thing they had to do.

However: mom having married above her class and having no clue how to teach me manners, her contributions being limited to angsting that I had no manners, I had to learn them by myself and mostly as an adult.

I bet you a lot of the things they learned are still useful, and are the sort of things people judge you on before they are even aware they’re judging. The sort of things that get them to go “Oh, she’s a real lady.” Which, FYI still has respect and currency in the world today. Yes, even in the US.

Again, my mom married above her class by a bit. It distorted her whole life, and to an extent my brother’s, mine and even my kids. Because one of mom’s symptoms was fastening onto the idea all her descendants would have degrees, by gum. But in my brother’s and my case, it never occurred to anyone that most people who made it into (then) incredibly competitive colleges had tutors or went to private schools. Because village/public schools were designed explicitly to train peasants.

I don’t think mom ever understood what an herculean task she set us, or how bizarre it was we succeeded through sheer intimidation and fear. You know, she yelled us into college. Or what fishes out of water we were in our classes, sharing no experiences with most of the people. (There were a few of us.) And often lying about our backgrounds, just to be left alone.

And before you say the US doesn’t have that…. OH, dear. You see, MIL had a similar story, only she was an only child and her parents sacrificed everything to send her to those schools and give her a come out. But she still stuck out like a fish out of water, because she couldn’t spend like her friends and hadn’t had their experiences. It showed. Fifty years later, it still showed.

But at least she in theory knew how to behave, which mom never did. (To be fair to mom, I take a bit after her, so she’d probably have rebelled even if she knew. Like the way she intentionally mispronounced things, even though she knew perfectly well how to pronounce them. Shakespeare became Shogspierre, for instance.)

But look, in my attempts to learn how to behave without disgracing myself in public, I often become too shy. Almost all of my social anxiety is traced to that.

And women who got the lessons, and behave according to the old imprinted patterns often breeze in, and do things a certain way, without thinking. Which opens more doors to corporate VP rooms and advancement in the arts than just about anything else.

Seeing a bunch of well-off (At least as children) American women complaining that someone cared enough to try to give them these tools to get ahead in life struck me somewhere between sad and funny. Kind of like if they’d gone up to my mom who grew up barefoot in a slum and started telling her the tragic story of how their shoes were all funny looking, and had weird colors.

Look, I don’t know if the US is a matriarchy. Certainly the overculture is. And as in an out of control matriarchy, women are getting screwed by expectations and their own peers.

However, in law and in every day life, we have more rights and more ability to do stuff than women have had since EVER. And no that’s not some mythical oppression. It’s the result that when life is hard — and it was very hard till this century — men have the advantage of size and strength, and women need protection, which puts them in a position of vassalage.

Going around whining about your oppression or crowing how liberated you’re now, might feel good.

It’s also annoying to anyone who grew up in another country/time.

And frankly it’s one more irritant added to the out-of-control overculture.

We’re now in a position the Marxists are going to lose. We just might lose lose along with them. We lovers of freedom.

And one of the ways we lose is that cultures under stress revert to their basics. And for years y’all and the media that feeds you these illusions have sold the American people on the idea that “Made up 50s” is our base culture. It’s not. American women always had more freedom than the rest of the world.

To keep piling on these pieces of nonsense only makes it more likely that my granddaughters will have to rise through the same kind of low-level sludge that didn’t hold me down, but bored me to tears.

Or worse.

Take your privilege and enjoy it. No one actually expects you to be astro-physicists. (What would we do with all of them?)

ENJOY being women in the freest, most equitable country on Earth. And shut the heck up about your 8th grade math teacher. It just makes you seem like a petulant child.

And we need adult women to help build a free future in which both men and women can reach their potential without stupid expectations.

Be not afraid. And be not whiny either.

334 thoughts on “Shoes, Feet And American Feminism

  1. There was a Hagar cartoon a while back. Hagar took his son back into the woods to tell him something.

    Once they got back in the woods, Hagar told his son “Men rule”.

    The joke was that Hagar couldn’t tell his son that in ear-shot of his wife. [Crazy Grin]

  2. The funny thing is that what you describe is essentially the original core of the idea behind “privilege”. Or in other words, certain people are “privileged” because their parents brought them up to instinctively act in a way that helps to open certain doors.

    Of course, at this point, the idea of “privilege” has been twisted beyond belief. And those who shriek about it try to destroy the teaching of those rules, and simultaneously rabidly attack anyone who suggests that anything other than ethnicity is the cause of it.

  3. the original core of the idea behind “privilege”.

    (Pedant alert) “Privilege” derives from Latin “privus” + “leg” or “lex” meaning “private law”. In other words, rights and benefits and immunities which only certain people are entitled to. Thus, a lord could beat a commoner but not vice-versa. “Privilege” has nothing to do with being fortunate enough to be born with higher IQ or better muscles or sharper eyesight, or with parents who are wealthier or more educated or more virtuous, or in a neighborhood with less crime, and so on. The left likes to twist and distort the meanings of words because its goals cannot be defended honestly.

    1. And as always, the evil imputed by the Left to others is EXACTLY the thing it desires to arrogate to itself and use against said others.

  4. Sarah, I remember sitting at the kitchen table one summer morning in Tampa FL circa about 1968. It was the point where my 13 year old self became a feminist… I was bored and looking at the want ads and a light went on and I said to my mother, a graduate reference librarian from a prestigious Boston college “Why are all the interesting jobs listed under Help wanted -White – Male”?
    It’s also a product of all the news presenting NASA as monolithically white men, finding out that women of all colors played a huge role in everything from the spacesuits to the math … and then, in 2019 a NEW documentary comes out about the moon shot, after Hidden Figures and The Rise of the Rocket Girls, and it’s still ALL WHITE MEN. That makes people my age think that nothing really has changed much if, after a book and numerous articles about the NASA ladies, they go ahead and make a new documentary and leave them out all over again. Having grown up military and seen high achieving black folks, the want ads were already offensive, but i.promise you in 1968, the jobs on offer for women were waitress, secretary, housekeeper, nurse or teacher and precious little else.

    1. This was true, more or less, when I was a teenager: ordinary women had the choice of nurse, secretary, teacher, stewardess if you were pretty and thin. There were other professions – but you had to be really driven, non-conformist and more than talented if you wanted to pursue them successfully. It was at this point where it became possible for ordinary girls ( as I thought of myself as ordinary, not particularly driven or brilliant) to want to do something else, something interesting, remunerative, adventurous.

      And historically, there were women who had been and done the unexpected things, even back into the 19th century; women who were doctors, ranch owners, newspaper publishers, lawyers, business owners … I went round and round in one of my writing groups with another writer who was absolutely convinced that American women had been kept barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen, beaten regularly by their husbands and otherwise powerless and downtrodden until getting the right to vote in the 20th century. I gave her chapter and verse, names, dates, professions practiced … to no avail. She was absolutely convinced that basically until 1920, it was all Handmaid’s Tale and worse.

      1. Yeah, trust me, Portugal is FAR WORSE than here, except now with a political correctness overlay. All of my maternal ancestresses ran their own businesses and were SUCCESSFUL.

      2. Not being female I never had the default career options (plus anyway I’m younger so there were more options for my female contemporaries) but had I been female I would have know full well that I had options beyond the standard limited set mentioned because my grandmother had been one of the first female doctors in the UK, my great aunt one of the first female professors at Cambridge and so on. And all that was in the 1920s/30s. So I would have know that while the default might have been secretary/teacher etc. it was entirely possible to do something more if you had the drive to do so.

        Plus of course as I was growing up there was the blessed iron lady of conservatism – Mrs Thatcher – who had been a scientist and then a politician and who was famous for blending her feminine wiles with masculine traits to handbag people who obstructed her.

        In fact, in the UK, I would say the fact that Mrs T was prime minister did more to shake the default “female oppression” culture than anything the women’s libbers did

      3. There’s a Kipling story where two men are coming to his house, the master of the house says the doctor is visiting, the other one says no, that’s a woman’s voice, and lo and behold, the master of the house is still right.

      4. Ya know, we hear all these complaints about what were the only “default career options” for women until Recent Times, but we never hear that for the majority of men, the concurrent “default career options” were farmer, general labor, soldier (actually getting shot at in a stinking trench), hardrock miner, or backbreaking factory work. Most men didn’t get to be rocket scientists and business tycoons either. And I’m sure most coal miners would have gladly swapped places with a secretary, but damn few secretaries would have traded jobs with the coal miner.

        I’m reminded of someone I heard bitching about how in ancient Rome, women didn’t even get to choose their own names, but rather their names were prescribed by custom. I have news for you, it was the same for Roman men!

        1. Secretary was a man’s job for a long time. Usually somebody rich and young doing a sort of intern job, or somebody poor being an ill-paid clerk who had to dress well.

        2. Two phrases, repeated, would solve nearly all of the ridiculous blindness that leads to stuff like this.

          “As compared to what?”
          “And therefore, what?”

          The whole concept of feminism and a “feminist lens” is to view all of the world through a feminist lens. What was life like for men of the same class? Who cares! We’re talking about women now, so be quiet.

          Of course, if a person gets a crack open and starts to pry and manages to gain an acknowledgement that boys and men had few rights and few choices and often worse consequences for violating them, the response will be that this is what feminism is for and men need feminism, too.

          So I retract my initial assertion. 😛

          1. “…men need feminism, too.”

            Yeah, I’ve heard that one too. It’s basically the same as every leftist policy: it didn’t work, so you need to do it harder!

      5. Feminism is the worst thing that ever happened to American women, IMO..Many educated women have been convinced not to have children until too late, and are now frustrated and angry because there’s a huge gap in their lives…And it has been used by our overlords to lower wages and impoverish American families, while simultaneously leading to a generation of latch key kids…

    2. So? The major oppression I see women having these days is from feminists, not “white men.” At least not white guys that aren’t feminists, criminals, or psychopaths, as Sarah mentioned above. Has feminism made more happy families than traditional marriage? No. Has it made women happy? Quite obviously not. Has modern feminism on the whole improved the lot of women and men or not? The latter.

      Or are all those many MANY articles, videos, and posts I see of angsty, angry feminists, every one of them a base lie? Feminism does not make you happy. If you, like most women, want children and a family some day then feminism is a net negative. And in the workplace, having a quota system for women makes no sense. Either they can do the job or not. Or in cases like NASA, say, either they’re the best for the job or not.

      There are reasons that men tend to be the highest earners, work the most dangerous jobs, and typically the longest hours. Good ones. Women aren’t quite as insane as men are, by and large, to spend twenty hours a day managing a business and competing to be the best. Not many women want that three in the morning call to fix a problem from a client overseas. Sure maybe here and there. But the guys doing this, not for the money, but to beat out some other lunatic working twenty hour days doing the same thing, they do it for decades because they are crazy enough to do so.

      If you’re angsty about women in NASA, or women in coding, or women in stock trading or whatever, go try it out for yourself. It’s hard stuff that engineering, programming, and such. Most *guys* don’t make it in those fields. You’ll want to be in the top 1% of women to make it there. Or top 1% of men, if you’re a guy. And often enough, it will consume your life, those top jobs. They’re not easy. At all.

      Are you an honest woman that doesn’t hate men? Doesn’t believe in “toxic masculinity”? Never puts down another woman for choosing her own path- even if it means having a softball team of kids herself and being a stay at home mom? That’s another tough job, too. Or are you going to tar men with the “sexist” label without examining what reasons they might have for their decisions?

      1. exactly. Most women’s “Oppression” is caused by choices they make, not by men nor the patriarchy. Few women would want to work as hard, or as focused as men do to succeed. Even fewer would make the choice to sacrifice things that men do to climb the ladder of success. Fewer yet are willing to work as hard as men do.
        Choices. Lead. To. Outcomes.
        The opportunities are there. There are TONS of “we need more women in aviation, or engineering, or management “groups….and they fail to make a difference, not because of barriers, but because of women. . Few women take advantage of it because it will lead to a loss of social status, a lack of a social life with other women, and will make it harder, if not impossible, to have a family….so they choose other professions.

        1. I’ve noticed that all of the women programmers in the Seattle office of my division of Very Large Household Name Corporation are very quickly promoted to team manager. I don’t know if it’s the same at other offices but I rather suspect it is, and I believe it’s because VLHNC wants the brownie points for high “women in management” stats.

          1. Use to be in part because women tend to make better Speakers To Geeks, whatever flavor of geek your do the technical stuff guys are.

            These days, it’s probably the brownie points.

                1. Yeah, but there’s also the social skills thing. Women tend to run higher on that scale than men… and geeks (of most all stripes) tend to be on the bottom end of general social ability. Female + talking to me(us) + about my geekery = “You Have My Undivided Attention Ma’am. Please Continue.”

                  1. Female + talking to me(us) + about my geekery = “You Have My Undivided Attention Ma’am. Please Continue.”

                    Good heavens, one of the comic writer girlies was whining because she went to see… I think it was Deadpool… and some of the guys in line spoke to her, identified she was not there because [attached male] brought her, and proceeded to geek out at her about the movie.

                    She was huffy because he as disrespecting her knowledge, by ‘assuming’ she didn’t already know this.

                    Me, reading this:
                    You stuck up twit, he was geek flirting with you. If you’d started geeking out at him right back, he’d have pulled out his liver to keep you talking to him.

                    About the time I realized a lot of folks who produce the stuff for geeks really don’t LIKE them very much….


                    Ooh, ooh, cool/useful thing I just found out today– girls with ADHD sometimes express it as being perfectionist. They’ll do the work, but they do NOT have a high tolerance for “alright, but fix this thing.”

                    Given the number of Odds here, very useful.

                    12 year old daughter had herself in tears because her chopstick technique wasn’t working immediately, so VERY useful…going to see if she’ll join her brother and have coffee before lessons next week. (it kind of works for him, not sure if ritual or caffeine)

                    1. Oh, and if chicky had just opened with “yeah, I know something about it– I got to do some work on [first issue]” much less said I AM WRITER XYZ! she would’ve been mobbed with love.

                    2. Oh yeah, at least! Geek girls do exist, but they are like endangered species or something. Seeing one is An Event in a geek’s life That May Never Come Again! *chuckle*

                      Geek culture has gone through various stages of realizing geek item producers look down upon consumers of their products, from Gamergate through the Sad Puppers kerfluffle to the comics industry capitulation and beyond. There exist whole swathes of something like geeks in name only that only seem to exist to corrupt and destroy the very thing they claim to fanboy/girl about. That whole kill it, gut it, wear it as a skin suit demanding respect is exhibited clearly in comics today.

                      The perfectionist thing is good to know. Explains a lot of Younger Cousin’s antics in her teenage years. Still has issues today with it.

                    3. ADHD perfectionism is *absolutely* a thing, and is the principle thing we have to fight against with my daughter.

                      Child, please don’t erupt in tears because a homework question was a wee bit confusing and you couldn’t find me because I was taking a shower. Putting it off for a few minutes until I could verify that you just needed to put “4:1”, and that “1:4” would probably correct too, would have saved a world of hurt.

                    1. As backhanded compliments go, there *are* better out there. Geek guys don’t get fangirled nearly as often, and it tends to be a different thing when it does actually happen anyway. Fanboy behavior is annoying, but usually not ruin your whole day terrible. If it goes stalkerish, that’s possibly criminal and not cool at all.

            1. We have a highly socially functional cadre of programmer geeks who are all pretty damn capable of communicating with management, business, project managers, etc. (Assuming they speak English well; we have lots of H1Bs from all over the place.)

              In fact, in 20 years in programming here in Seattle, I don’t think I’ve ever run across a stereotypical antisocial/semi-autistic uber geek in a professional setting (only at SF cons). Maybe this is because I work in the web universe and those people tend to work closer to the metal, I don’t know.

              That’s why I’m pretty sure it’s for brownie points.

                1. Yeah, bare metal programming starts weird then goes southward fast. Automatic test equipment had that problem until there was availability of controlling computers with enough capability of using somewhat advanced languages. About 10 years of my career entailed writing code where a single bit could make dramatic changes. Some of that code could be read on the fly by sufficiently deranged humans, while others needed a code book, a map and a fifth of Jack Daniels nearby.

                2. I remember Forth, and fondly, at that. Even got to write the first(ish) documentation about a variant of it that ran low-level aspects of SPARC workstations. Which was also fun.

                  Which probably means it was more decades ago than I’d like to admit.

              1. The only uber-geek I can recall from my semiconductor manufacturing career was an IC designer who was bound and determined to squeeze the last micron out of his design, no matter whether it actually reduced the cost of the chip (10 micron increments in size were a standard; as I recall, after much thrashing, he might have made that 10 um increment once in the design.

                Hiss OCD/ADHD was in full flower, and he managed to alienate every one his his coworkers. The last I heard, he left the industry to become a dentist. I kept the image of the sadistic/druggie dentist from Little Shop of Horrors whenever I remembered the guy.

                FWIW, there were few female IC designers in our division, but the CAD artwork people were mostly women. The production engineers had a fair and growing number of women at the time the division was dismantled (victim of Dot-Com-Implosion V1.0).

              2. My husband worked in the SF Bay Area as a network engineer of the generation that might not have a degree at all and be entirely self taught (which he was). There were a lot of “normie” people that he worked with but also a lot of guys who you were just glad they bathed. The pony tail and goatee wasn’t a fashion choice, it was an “unable to plan a hair cut” choice. Programmers weren’t exposed to customers. And the “pay your electric bill at the electric company so you don’t get your power turned off” was full of these guys. I know! I saw them there.

        2. There’s an observation in the UK now that the UK is short of doctors, particularly GPs . This is almost certainly because more and more such doctors are female and discover that you really can’t mix being a full time GP with being a mother and they want to do the latter. So they either quit GPing or go part time.

          So more doctors need to be trained to make up for the shortages but the number of places in medical schools in the UK has been rationed for years based on calculations of how many new doctors are needed that assumes GPs won’t go part-time or quit when they are 35

          1. Now that Despicable Kate Brown mandated the not-Vax for health care workers, it looks like there will be/already is a lot of openings for new people–assuming that there will be a pool of people willing to a) get the training, and b) take the not-Vax killshot. Magic 8 ball says it’s going to have a selective audience.

            The current shortage is being “handled” by deploying Nat’l Guard troops to hospitals. (“What could possibly go wrong?’, he asks with tongue in cheek) I need to get my bimonthly prothrombin time (INR) test done at the end of the month. The medical center had two openings for patient-facing lab techs–at this point a third of the nominal. I’ll be sure to bring the Kindle–maybe find an outlet and have a charger handy. 🙂

            1. When choosing a career path there is certainly an element of passion, but also a large component of calculation of investment vs reward. And as the cost of obtaining any medical certifications in time, energy, and money continues to escalate while the threat of our government taking health care over and turning the workers into bondservants to their whim, I see a great many making that calculation and finding the result less than encouraging.
              Add on all the bumbf we’ve seen the process inflict on, for example Robert Hoyt, it’s no wonder that health care workers in all classifications are going to become rather thin on the ground.

              1. Bang-on. My wife had the brains for med school, but she looked at the brutal regimen she would undergo for the privilege of undergoing a brutal regimen for the rest of her working life, and became a physical therapist instead. It still paid well, and she could actually have a life.

              2. My Nephew-in-law couldn’t get into medical school because he was too white and too male. He chose an unrelated industry where he could still use a bunch of his premed studies, and seems to be doing well.

      2. Minor pedant point. Women may be less likely professionally to take the 3am call when they take the 3am call with the children, especially when it enables the spouse to be focused on business needs.

        1. You are correct. They’ll take the mom job, which is nontrivial, long hours, requires a wide range of skills, and dealing with often unreasonable people. Stressful. But worthwhile. And important. Good mothers, nobody is going to love those kids more than that.

          You can’t (usually) spank the foreign client when he’s being fussy at 3am and needs his butt whupped, though. That tends to lose you clients. Unless you’re in certain circles. That’s not related to high level professional business, though.

            1. “I beat bottoms,
              Why, O Why do I beat bottoms?
              Because they pay me to.”

              I Beat Bottoms — Leslie Fish / Mistress Cynthia

      3. And often enough, it will consume your life, those top jobs. They’re not easy. At all.

        The infamous BBC interview with Jordan Peterson had him make exactly that point and suggest it indicated greater wisdom on the part of women that they don’t make that sacrifice for one more rung on the ladder.

        1. Damn, that broad’s annoying! Constantly interrupting JP, not letting him finish what he’s saying, misrepresenting what he did say and attacking him personally for what he never said, repeatedly telling him what he ‘really’ thinks, what he ‘really’ believes instead of answering the points he raises…

          A typical Leftroid, in other words.

          Her: “Women have to struggle to get to the top! There are barriers!”

          JP: “Men face the same barriers, and have to struggle just as hard. Men are just more suited for those battles, physically and temperamentally.”

          Her: “It’s not fair! It’s mens’ fault! Patriarchy!!”

          I was hoping he was going to follow up on his statement that confrontations between men generally involve at least the implication of physical threats by observing that women are much more vicious because they mostly have to avoid physical threats. Women are much more likely to resort to gossip, rumor-mongering, character assassination and backstabbing than engage in direct confrontation. Which destroys any organization from the inside and puts it at a competitive disadvantage.
          Today, every child in America is born $89,000 in debt.

      4. Because males are crazy enough to do so, because that’s how you earn the status that makes you attractive to a better class of female. Or for that matter, to =any= female.

        Take away that ability to earn status in the eyes of those who really count to those males, and you get a generation of directionless young men who see little point in even trying. Or who come to believe that only by sucking up to “feminist ideals” can they earn enough status to win a mate. Meanwhile, make sex free (rather than something you earn by attracting a wife) and you get love ’em and leave ’em as the default mindset. Rinse and repeat until we’ve got a generation that’s ruined and lost and no longer interested in stable unions, let alone having kids.

        Raise a generation of females who have been taught that they only matter if they spend their reproductive years earning a PhD and a career that sucks up all their energy, and pretty soon there are no males of sufficient status (since women never marry “down” by their instinct’s lights) and no one they’re willing to mate with, except maybe for that socially-mandated giving-away-your-assets, and pretty soon we’ve got a generation of lonely middle-aged cat ladies who file rape charges every time a boy looks at ’em funny. (Because, quite naturally, they feel robbed the morning after.)

        If you want to know why reproductive rates are falling, look no further than the popular denigration of that most important career for the whole species, wife and mother (because women must become “equal” therefore exactly as men!), and the socially-constructed idea that sex should be freely available “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” (thus valueless). IOW, the intersection of Marxism and feminism.

      5. I know one programmer who explained that he and his boss had an understanding: he was getting paid a little less for his experience, on the condition that he would never be on call.

        He consciously chose a less stressful job over one that provides more salary.

        Everyone has to decide what tradeoffs we are willing to make … with a little luck thrown in, to be sure … but we cannot count on luck to make ends meet!

        1. My last job, 12 years. Where “We are on vacation where we will not have cell coverage” actually meant something. As did I’m too sick to work VS I’m sick, working at home. All other jobs neither applied. They I’d get back in the office and get blasted for not picking up when they called, or not calling back when I got the message (sometime on the way home on Sunday).

          One time they even called my husband (was at summer camp in the middle of the Cascades). Hubby was part of a midweek resupply run so he did bring me the message. I managed to get a call out (you know hiking to the top of the ridge, turning 3 times, jumping, and standing just right) once, after 4 tries. Person I needed to talk to was in a “meeting”. Told the receptionist that if I hung up, it’d be Monday, when I was in the office. Got told it would be dealt with then. Which is why I wasn’t exactly part of the next mass bankruptcy downsizing, escort off property, the prior Wednesday 🙂

        1. I always thought of Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Margaret Thatcher as the kind of feminist I wanted to be.

    3. There’s no reason to suspect that Hidden Figures was particularly truthful.

      Modern historical research slides some insane nonsense in among the ‘new findings’. Culture A and Culture B did not live peacefully together, O shock and horror, it must be only because Culture B is the devil. Serious research, considering all the angles, might consider the possibility that peace is difficult, and that failures to accomplish peace might have more causes than the one currently popular to blame.

      And that is before the absurd contortions that the well funded parts of media twists that ‘research’ into.

      Most jobs are boring. a) the stuff that is funnest to do is never going to be the tasks have the greatest economic demand to pay people to do. b) There are wider tastes among people in general than for one specific persons. Therefore, there are a lot of jobs that some person would enjoy doing, than there are jobs that one specific person would enjoy doing.

      In some states, the child labor laws do not permit 13 year olds to have any form of employment. Some of those laws restrict minors from doing tasks that require physical strength, mature judgement, or a long term view of risks and accountability. Those laws are not necessarily wrong.

      If someone is going to argue from the perspective of a thirteen year old on employment, it is possible that they are of deficient ability, and should personally not be offered jobs appropriate to an adult level of responsibility.

      There are a smaller number of positions that someone who takes Hollywood seriously is very likely not well prepared to carry out.

      I’ve looked at look of neat looking positions that were asking for experience that I did not have. Many those I did not apply to after considering my ability to deliver on the work at the desired level.

      I’ve applied for jobs, interviewed for jobs, and did not get them. Some times, lack of experience. Some times, I did not communicate enthusiasm, or I did communicate overconfidence. Sometimes, almost certainly, it was the fact that I am both very crazy and very reclusive.

      The current status quo of employment is significantly a large mass of dysfunctional bureaucracies. And extremely few jobs that are very interesting.

      If you’ve had more than a decade of employment since you were thirteen, cry me a river.

      If you haven’t managed that, and it has been more than forty years…

      If a black woman from my cohort does not have a technical education, it is not because of the technical educators at the tertiary level. Quite possibly primary and secondary level instructors, sure. And, especially through those, possibly the fault of tertiary level ‘scholars’ in the humanities.

      If a black woman from my cohort with technical training has not found a technical position, it is only because they are even more socially dysfunctional, or even less interested doing the work to find a position than I was.

      And the regulatory cost of pretending to address ‘structural’ issues in employment and in training makes the cost of the hiring process higher, making employers more risk averse when it comes to potential employees who have something seriously wrong with them.

      The people who have to be coerced to hire you are going to pass that coercion on to you in the form of being miserable to work with.

      If it is not too much for me to be obligated to conclude that if I want to do an interesting job, I may have to invent it, and find some customers on my own, it is not too much for anyone else.

        1. I do get tired of the people who say “sure, okay, but it was politically useful bullshit and therefore okay.”

        2. I heard that there were always pools of less skilled workers, calculators, who were not mathematicians, doing rote pencil and paper calculations, without having the understanding that the mathematicians directing the work did.

          Certainly, numerical methods predated modern computing. It is just that using human labor, any human labor, for them gets obnoxious fast. The human errors will throw things off if you try to do things over very many steps. Computers make mistakes of their own, but they are different mistakes. If you are a skilled mathematician, and can program, you can at least potentially figure out if a computerized numerical solution with LOL steps got something wrong somewhere.

          Anyway, I tried not to speak specifically to Hidden Figures, because I do not really know anything of the specifics.

          1. I heard that there were always pools of less skilled workers, calculators, who were not mathematicians, doing rote pencil and paper calculations, without having the understanding that the mathematicians directing the work did.

            Their job title was

            wait for it


            1. It is also why in early computing a lot of very talented women, the cream of the crop among computers, were prominent figures. Women were much more common then than now.

              In the middle period, when computers moved large scale into business, women were much more common as well compared to now through a similar process. As more and more businesses bought computers they had to select internal employees to program them. It was the cream of the crop of routine people, such as bookkeepers and “HR ladies” who were sent to learn how to automate their own jobs. They were quality choices as they knew the business and had histories of conscientious work habits.

              Everyone knows Grace Hopper, but we conveniently forget women like Lorinda Cherry, a key member of the Software Tools side of the early Unix world who got her Masters in Computer Science in 1969, you know back when women weren’t allowed to do that.

              It was only after about 1980 that women started to disappear as programming and system administration became college tracks and post-degree jobs that hoovered up young men willing to work 80 hour weeks that women started to disappear from the field.

              To this day women in computing are disproportionately in management compared to their numbers in the field, probably for the same forces that lead to some many early programmers in the business world being managers.

              1. willing to work 80 hour weeks

                Raises hand. Definitely was a stumbling for me. Nope. Not happening. Only had to worry about it from ’96 – ’02, was brought up at annual reviews. Was a factor on when I got cut when it came down on the 4th downsizing during the bankruptcy, departments had to cut 10%, even when they were already understaffed by 30% (our R&D). They weren’t happy when they called and wanted help with the code I’d been responsible for, the ONLY person who worked on it for six years, in 3 different languages (Visual Basic, C++, and C). While I wasn’t the only one who understood C (I was a neophyte compared to the embedded C R&D programmers), nor was I the only one who knew C++. I was the only one who knew how the Visual Basic and C++ libraries interacted, and why.

                Weren’t happy because they wouldn’t pay me to come in and “Help”. Hey not like I had the code in front of me at home. Although I’d liked to have had a copy of the C code just for the flat file structure access management. But, I was good … Could have gotten a copy. Was suppose to have been escorted off, and allowed back in for personal items once stuff had been secured for the company. But boss was pissed off enough and I didn’t get notified on the day everyone else did (a half a week later, as I was at No-Cell-Camp). Boss didn’t follow protocol. So I could have gotten a copy … but no, I was good … dang it.

                1. About seven years ago, when the company was releasing a huge update to the web site, my team had to do a whole hell of a lot of work on our part of it in a very short time because the project management side screwed up. I’m not sure what the other guys on the team did, but as tech lead I pulled 60-hour weeks for a month and a half, and my (20 years younger) team lead (aka Speaker To Business Types) pulled 80-hour weeks (he had to write reports as well as code).

                  When the update was done, he and I marched into our manager’s office and stated that life was too short and we weren’t paid enough to ever do that again. And lo and behold, we never had to. Now, several teams later, I shut my laptop at 5pm and don’t even think about it until the next morning.

                  1. Hidden Figures book was fine, Hidden Figures movie made up stuff.

                    In actual fact, the ladies apparently reigned as queens among the NASA engineer men, because they dressed and acted like people of quality. The ladies were very upset that their white friends and bosses were dumped on by the movie.

                    1. In actual fact, the ladies apparently reigned as queens among the NASA engineer men, because they dressed and acted like people of quality. The ladies were very upset that their white friends and bosses were dumped on by the movie.

                      Both points I am absolutely not surprised to hear about.


                      I have a vague sort of feeling that some of the folks sure that Things Were Horrible don’t realize that the point of media-bosses that abused the Office Ladies was that they were idiots.

                      Office ladies can make or break you, exactly because they do all the stupid little jobs, and if they like you enough to graciously go the extra mile you’ve got gold. They stop problems before they start, just like having a geek mechanic is a good investment. (They were often “janitors” but the mechanism stays the same.) No, you can’t put him in front of customers, but you need to listen to him when he says Thing sounds bad and needs work. An Office Lady who feels her work is respected is going to do *good* work, a geek mechanic will pour all the love of his geekery-field into keeping his stuff going in good shape.

                    2. And if the Office Lady doesn’t like you…
                      I saw a young woman get dropped from an intern program (which in federal Civil service takes real talent) because she told the division chief’s secretary, “You’re only a GS-(x), and I’m going to outrank you!”

                    3. You know, I have been occasionally viewed as tact deficient, but I’ve never been that stupid……

                  2. Regular occurrence at this company because marketing would sell TPTB a bill of goods, then stick it to R&D to deliver it. Even when from the get go, R&D made it plain that there was no way that delivery date was impossible. Never ever made the date they promised despite them pushing for stupid hours. I understand this isn’t an uncommon occurrence in software development. I was lucky in that the job prior and the jobs after didn’t ever pull this. Any long hours at those jobs were on me. Because …

                    I was guilty of the “dang why won’t this work? Just one more compile.” loop “Oh **** it’s 6 PM!” Yep. More than I’d like, over my 33 year career. But I tried to shut down at 5 PM.

                2. It was like that in architecture school, too.

                  The classes were an even split between men and women, but the industry loses something like 80 % of those women after graduation.

                  Women go into architecture thinking “Design work is something I could do and have kids at the same time!”
                  The architecture firms say “We want you to work 60 hour a week!”

                  Students don’t find that out until they take the professional practice class, four years into their five-year program.

                  And nobody in the architecture world seems to be able to connect the dots.

              2. Yeah, when I was a kid I kinda knew about the shift from family history. And, the examples of both sides of that programming divide did not have degrees.

              3. 80 hour work weeks… or at least 60 hour ones…

                It’s funny how many times that I told my husband that they weren’t going to tell him to go home, no matter how long he was there, and they weren’t going to hire another programmer as long as they could get both he and his friend to work another person’s hours between them.

                He never listened. Finally burned completely out and ran to a different job when offered. Years later I heard him telling someone else that their boss would never tell them to go home, that they’d worked enough… my words right out of his mouth. I laughed but didn’t say anything.

                1. I think I benefited greatly by the fact that my first boss in tech at a startup said straight out, “If it looks like we have to sleep under our desks, that just means we need to hire more staff instead.”

                  Also, I was already 35 and not a wet behind the ears 22-year-old fresh out of college.

                2. Well, up until about 2005 or so, when the response became “Fine, we’ll abuse the H1B system and hire three guys from Shanghai / Bangalore / etc. to replace you for less than it costs for either of you.”

                  1. I still don’t understand how it’s legal for a company to hire an H1B worker alleging that “there are no Americans who can do this job!” and then require the person who’s job is being replaced to train the H1B hire as a condition of their severence.

                    (And I don’t have any problem with H1B visas, in theory. In practice? …)

    4. To the best of my knowledge, I was the second female technical writer at the Army Communications-Electronics Command. (This was the late 70s). The first, who acted as my (unofficial) mentor, was a black lady who had started as an electronics instructor and moved into the writing field. She got where she was by sheer ability (and a congenital inability to take no for an answer). It was a privilege to work with her.

    5. Are you objecting to the documentaries because they were selective with their focus– as was the entire point of ‘Hidden Figures’, etc– or because they weren’t selective with their focus?

      Most of the United States even now is ‘white,’ with a bit of squish depending on the definition.
      Most of the folks working at NASA were male. That’s the biology thing Sarah mentioned.

      I just spent most of my day undoing various levels of unlabeled emphasis; my own history education was greatly damaged because it was generation four or so of “fixing” what someone viewed as a gap in teaching, without teaching the broad strokes history they were trying to patch.

      Eventually it gets to the point of being worse than lying.

      1. generation four or so of “fixing” what someone viewed as a gap in teaching, without teaching the broad strokes history they were trying to patch.


        GOD I hate that.

        “Thomas Jefferson was a slaveowner. Here endeth the lecture.”
        “But what about all the other stuff he did?”
        “What, are you a racist?”

        I mean, that’s a comedy version, but not really by all that much.

        1. See also, the “wow it is so horrible that wife-of-famous-scientist wasn’t respected for her contributions.”

          Me, having read the older books, AND growing up knowing that couples are a unit, that was the POINT of the stupid “boss comes to dinner” shows?
          “Well, you twit, if you didn’t keep insisting that women’s work is useless unless you’re paid for it, you’d know that. Which is WHY the wife of the Famous Scientist is supposed to be mentioned. Idjit.”

          Seriously, “wife worked with husband in lab and was his first sounding board, checking his work”– THAT IS A GOOD MARRIAGE!

          (Note: Yes, I know you were denied a good marriage. I’d say that’s partly the fruit of the ‘girls must be boys, and only a select form of boy is worthy of respect’ nonsense.)

          1. Lavoisier and his wife – scribe, translated “chemistry geek” into usable material, kept his publications and correspondence circle going after he was executed by the French Revolution.

        2. That one always annoys me.
          Jefferson inherited slaves. The law at the time didn’t allow him to free them.
          When the law changed, after the Revolution, which he was in debt because of, the law still treated slaves as property which could not be given away of while debts were owed. He could have sold them – but they would probably have ended up less well off.
          Talk about being stuck between Scylla and Charybdis!

  5. “(except for the all-girls’ school which was its own form of hell)”

    But Sarah, you were in a nurturing, female-dominated environment, free of the Patriarchy. You were surrounded by pure Girl Power. How could that possibly have been bad?

    1. You’re just begging for a series of 5 posts that start off with “Let me count the ways…” 😛

    2. *raises paw* Went to an all-women’s college. Could NOT understand why these gals bragged about not being shouted down my the boys in the class . . . and didn’t raise their hands or participate in discussion.

      Yeah, I was an odd Odd.

      1. I was once in a class where three or four of us dominated the discussion until several classes in, when the others complained and we agreed to shut up.

        Discussion resumed when I decided to ignore the agreement and speak. It was more spread out after — but we still dominated.

    3. There was a very prestigious private school in my town that was all girls. Mom asked if I wanted to go there for junior and senior high. Emphatic NO from me. Then, when looking at colleges, she suggested Scripps College, an all-girls college in Claremont. I again said NO. And went to Pomona, one of the other co-ed colleges in Claremont. No freaking way was I going to an all-girls school. Ironically, the private school ended up merging with an all-boys school for financial reasons, and my brother ended up there for a year.

    4. I went to an all-girls high school, and I loved it. Mind you, it was a very small school, with teachers who were on the ball, and I had already developed my can’t-be-bothered-with-trivialities attitude to the point where I may not have been popular, but I was respected and not picked on. There were also plenty of activities that could be done at the all-boys school, like drama, so it wasn’t total separation.

      The hilarious part was the scrum in the bathrooms at the end of school, when all these students would put on makeup and fix their hair, because nobody cared at school.

  6. It’s interesting when you talk about marrying “above” your class. On the surface, most Americans have no notion of class but so much of what’s going on here today is really just class anxiety. I think that’s where the angst comes from. I think I’ve mentioned that I was born into a gentry family, fallen on my father’s side, yes, but still gentry and Stonyhurst College, Sandhurst, and the Guaaards on my mother’s. One mark of the hereditary upper classes is that they are self confident enough not to care what other people think of them. Our American gentry are no more than two generations away from manual labor or hucksters. It came as a real shock to me when a I discovered that a fair bit of my disdain for the American “gentry” is actually class based.

    My wife likes to point this out to me, but then she married up — I never point this out to her — she was the first in her family to go to university and her father becoming a battalion chief in the FDNY was the pinnacle of mobility. She has a very different view of it all. I don’t think she has any class anxiety at all.

    What she does have is shoes. many, many pairs of shoes. I have five and if I didn’t have to wear the uniform 2.

    1. On one side of the family, grandparents have college degrees. On that side, grandfanther’s grandfather, a lawyer, beat grandfather’s father for doing badly at Latin, resulting in grandfather’s father not going to college, and possibly contributing to being a ne’er do well. Grand father worked his way through college doing manual labor. That parent is someone of an intellectual lightweight, and grew up in a college town hanging around with unversity kids, and grew up into a bit of a pseudo intellectual. Also, really struggled in university.

      Other side, grand parents were farmers on both sides, and both grandparents started but did not finish college. May have had a bit of a chip on their shoulder wrt to intellectualism afterwards, and that grandfather’s business strategy partly involved speaking in a way that wasn’t educated. There was education in the family, and some of that generation had PhDs. There was a former in law, that generation, who was a professor, and learning later about that side of that relative inspired that parent to study that field, and understand it fairly well.

      Parent’s generation? Interesting mental health history.

      My generation. Interesting mental health history.

      All four grandparents were an influence on me.

      One of my takeaways is that inherited wealth and wealth favoring customs are not reliably supported by the sanity necessary to pass them on. (So, to some extent the generations of inherited wealth, super discrimination narrative is bullshit.)

      Another take away, you do the best you can with what you have, and don’t sweat an uneven playing field, or other people winning more or starting off in a better position.

      In my young adult hood, my hanging around influences were pretty strange. Significantly shaped what I think is important and desirable.

      Fun story of ‘my intellectual journey to anti-intellectualism’: I was much younger, and slightly more impressed with Kratman than was accurate. I saw him, still do, as one of my intellectual role models. (It is just that the problems he is most interested in, and the ones I am most interested in, are different, and he is less sound on what I am trying to understand. I am not sure I understood at the time that he had /any/ weaknesses.) I think his explanation of what intellectualism is, and why he is not an intellectual, makes a lot of sense. I think even when one is trying to pull off a fundamentally intellectual project, that it is unhealthy and destructive to do so while emotionally attached to ‘being an intellectual’. Thinking is a task that is very easy to trick oneself into believing has been done correctly. Being emotionally invested in the ‘correctness’ of the outcome means you don’t look as hard for your mistakes. If you do enough thinking tasks, sooner or later this will result in your happiness being based on falsehood, and if you compromise and make that ‘based on lies’, your happiness will forever after be harmed.

      I think I manage not to care what my class is. I’ve definitely learned to respect raw ability at a very wide range of tasks, and also persistently working at stuff despite everything being a mess.

      Well, I care about class in so far as I care that I am not a criminal. I care that I am not a violent criminal, who lives to cause others physical harm. I care that I am not a white collar criminal. I care that I am not wasting my potential on substance abuse.

      I may well be wasting my potential in other ways, through being a screw up. It matters to me that I keep trying to fix it, and do not give up and quit opportunities to turn things around when they merely get difficult.

      1. I like to think I don’t care about class – mine or others – and I think I’m being honest with myself. Years ago, we had a neighbor, great guy, iron worker, raising his two kids as a single dad because their mother was a waste of space and he’d finally divorced her. When Jimmy found out that I taught college he got all sort of bashful. “Oh, man! You’re smart! I could never do that!” kind of thing. Took me forever to get him to stop that. Finally, after realizing that I was the same person he’d spent the last year or so joking with every time we ran into each other, things went back to normal.

        Hell, dude. Ironworker! There is not enough money or incentive in the world to get me to do that job!

          1. In the town where I went to grad school there was a plumbing company called “PhD Plumbing.” The running joke was that was our fallback if we didn’t finish the dissertation. Joke was on us…they made more than any of us will ever see.

            1. There was a great episode of Frazier about that. Niles’s,old HS bully is now a plumber. The punchline is when Niles realizes the plumber is much richer than he “you have the big Mercedes?” At the end the plumber flushes Niles’s head in the toilet and the cycle continues.

            2. In a bar near the University of Chicago campus, one of the bartenders has his Masters degree in Philosophy framed behind the bar…

        1. You might show him one of the interviews of Victor Davis Hanson in which he unfavorably compares the intelligence of university professors to people in the trades. 🙂

          1. My relative became an academic later in life. Her opinions on the common sense and intellectual capacity of many of her colleagues were not high.

            1. I went back to grad school at 31, teaching at 38, finally got the degree at 40. Quit/retired at 58. Yeah, I have to say that most of my faculty colleagues didn’t/don’t have the sense they were born with…ESPECIALLY the ones who did a straight shot of undergrad–>grad–>faculty. Zero concept of what it means to actually work for a living. And others who think they understand the world, but don’t really. And the abuse heaped on adjuncts and untenured and they simply take it because it was the same in grad school. Total Stockholm syndrome there.

              1. acquaintance- “Why is traffic so bad in Baton Rouge all the time?”
                me – “Because it is full of the stupidest people on the planet. College students, Professors, and Gov’t workers.”

                1. Yep! There was one grad prof, political philosopher, and when you saw his gigantic, ancient station wagon on the road, you just went a different route. You did NOT want to be on the same road with him!

      2. Mom’s family was, or saw itself as, “Southern gentry slipped into not so genteel poverty.” Mom was bound and determined that we were going to be middle-class, at least. Dad’s family was similar without the “gentry,” label. We figure we’re yeomen and we’re good with that.

      3. US-wise, it’s not really class, it’s culture.

        Some of ’em are very nasty. I notice a lot of the time these “when I was a young girl” stories are in various areas of what was called Back East when my mom was a girl– basically far east north, and very city focused.

        Kansas grandmother’s area had some stupid stuff before the Great War, but nothing like what folks a generation later are talking about, and Oregon between the wars was nothing like what women my mother’s age are talking about seeing back east.

        And I know I’ve talked about how my Scottish ancestress was so oppressed that when she said “we are moving the entire family to California,” nobody argued, and some of the neighbors came along. (or at least they didn’t admit to arguing by the time anyone was around to ask)

        1. There was an article back several years about there being something like eleven Americas—that would be the distinct cultures, based on who immigrated to a particular area. Based on that, I’ve lived in four different states—but only two Americas, and it could be argued that since my hometown is on one of the vague borders, I’ve only lived in one.

          1. Look up the book “The Nine Nations of North America”. It’s a well-reasoned explanation of the major cultural areas in North America, with good explanations of the differences.

              1. I thought I saw an awful lot of five stars, and complaints about overlooking blacks and/or indians.

                Okay, I may see blacks and indians as pretty important to my understanding of America and American history, but from the other descriptions it seems pretty odd to key onto one or the other deficiency as being /the/ overriding problem with the book.

                Of course, timing of publication wrt to development of current mess may be a clue.

  7. For the majority of history (in fact, still now if you look at it globally), for the vast majority of humans (whether “matri” or “patri,” vassalage has been the default state. In the West, men began to achieve a relative state of freedom somewhat earlier than women, but not all that much earlier.

    Note that an average man in the Middle East certainly has more freedom of action than his wives at home – but only so long as he stays in the good graces of his Imam and the local commander of the Islamic Guard. Step even slightly out of line with the elite, and expect to get the hammer. That is basically what the “Left” wants to return to.

    1. When you look at the “old ways”, it gets worse.

      In the Old Deep South pre-Civil War, you might have been poor white trash looked down on by the plantation owners but at least you were a Free White thus better than those Black Slaves or those so-called free Blacks.

      In Islamic Lands, you may have been a poor Muslim being looked down on by the Imams and Nobles, but at least you were better than those Jews and Christians.

      1. Humans… We can always find someone upon whom we can look down upon from our obviously higher position.

        Of course, in many cases, that lower person is looking down on us from their obviously higher position.

        1. Look up the distinction between guilt cultures and shame cultures. It explains a lot including freedom and individual responsibility. The Left is on a holy war to turn the West from a guilt culture to a shame culture.

          1. Guilt means you have only yourself to blame. Shame means you get to blame someone else.

            Natural that the Left would want this, since they never take the blame for their policies that go so very, very wrong.

  8. I should go dig into the history of “Republican Motherhood.” I suspect we are more that than we are a patriarchy or matriarchy.

    And that’s probably why the rafts of single women feel so alienated from society.

  9. At an Albuquerque Mensa party in the mid-90s, a young woman attendee mentioned that she had just graduated from the UNM Engineering School, whereupon another woman, probably in her 40s—and a successful TV producer—bemoaned loudly that women were being discriminated against in STEM classes.

    “I wasn’t,” the new engineer said, “I was treated just like all the other guys.”

    Obviously discomfited by the reply, the TV person said, “Well, you know, we feminists, my generation, fought for that, for you. We sacrificed for your career.”

    Without a pause, the engineer said nicely, “Thank you,” and turned back to continue her previous conversation.

    The looks from the older person and those of us onlookers were classic, in different ways. An unforgettable moment.

      1. If I’m going to give thanks to anyone it’s going to God and then to my mother* for raising me right.

        *I have a difficult relationship with my father. He became more of a neglectful and abusive father as time went on so my siblings and I joke that the oldest three had Dad A, the middle children had Dad B, the youngest children had Dad C (and I raised them more than he did).

    1. A woman I know just finished her Computer Science degree at UW Tacoma. Over the last few years, she’s occasionally complained that all the young tech-bros-to-be in her classes wouldn’t interact with her, and I inferred she meant because she was a woman and they were cutting her out. I suspect it was because she was 10-12 years older than them and tall and gothy and gorgeous — in those men’s shoes at age 20-23 I would have been intimidated as hell and wouldn’t have known how to interact with her.

      1. It’s not just self confidence.

        One could be quite willing to speak with anyone so long as it was interesting, without caring to discriminate based on sex, and still conclude that the modern university is lunatic heavy in administration enough that, if one is going to bother random fellow students, one might choose to avoid bothering the female students.

        I mean, there aren’t zero emails being circulated condemning behavior generally described, that could be understood as saying the wrong thing to a female student. If an administrator may be hunting for scalps of those ‘making women uncomfortable in STEM’, and one does not know a specific female student’s attitudes, if one is going around the lab and asking fellow students what they do, one might decide that bothering the females is too great a risk.

      2. Also, that much older, and she may be underestimating degree to which younger cohort might be ‘discriminating’ on age. In the real world, outside of school, you cannot function and care about a year’s difference in age.

        If it was an undergraduate degree, those students may still be under the impression that a year is a significant difference.

      3. Well, that and they’ve been thoroughly conditioned that the penalty for a clumsy approach is an HR harassment complaint.

      4. Graduated ’89 at 32, after 4 years, with the 4 year computer STEM degree. Did interact with the other female co-eds back then? No. Was it because I was also female? Or was it because I was either taking one class a term and working full time, or taking a full load of classes (12 hours+) and working 20 hours a week? Or was it because I was older? Pick everything, except that I am female. The last group, for what was the senor project, consisted of 4 of us. Three of us 4 were over 30. All three of us over 30 had problems with other groups, because of our ages and other commitments (work, family, etc.).

        Ironically the age issue was the reverse for my Forestry degree. Mid/late 70’s, while I wasn’t the only 17 – 22 year old in the program, a high percentage of the Forestry students, then were older than standard college age. Or maybe it was because that was the group I was with most the time. IDK. I just remember hearing (a lot) “Let’s go down to XYZ tavern, to study and play pool.” Problem was I couldn’t walk onto the parking lot without getting carded, let alone through the door. Heck I even had a curfew for the dorm my first term, for 2 months. Problem: I was 17.

        Neither degree did I ever feel discriminated against just because I was female. Not once. Might it have been attitude? Maybe. Grew up with parents that stated repeatably that “No one tells our daughters what they cannot study. Or what (legal) career they can pursue.” The 3 of us girls earned 4 STEM degrees, and two masters.

    2. SIL was told a couple of times she couldn’t be an engineer. She treated that advise with the respect it deserved and got her degree and a job. She and ner engineer hubby raised another woman engineer, though $NIECE thinks raising $TODDLER is a more useful occupation right now.

      FWIW, I’ve been given the impression that both of the people insisting that were prize jerks.

      I’m several years older than SIL and there were some women in my EECS program. When I was working at HP, starting around the early ’80s, we had a steady influx of women engineers (split between EEs and Chemist/Physics types). My last two immediate supervisors at Agilent were both women, circa 1998-2000.

  10. My mom has a masters degree in engineering (aerospace I think). She retired a couple years ago, to give you an age range. She says she was hired right out of grad school to work for GE. Which would have been really cool, except she discovered she’d been hired as a diversity hire, the “we need more women” thing. She said it was very not fun, being the token girl.

    1. My wife ran into this, she was an engineer in network TV in the 90’s. There were two females hired in engineering, one qualified, one not. The old guys used to take my wife aside and show her the things she needed to do but most of them wouldn’t even talk to the other one. It was all about being able to do the job.

  11. I smiled with pleasure the whole time I read this, Sarah, thanks. Really excellent.

    For me? I’ve never been discriminated against because I’m a woman. Not ever. Not in the military, not in school, not in workplaces.

    It never occurred to me that I had to conform to what the want ads offered. And I surely don’t have scars related to some lack of opportunity for women. I graduated HS in 1978.

    Most of the women I’ve worked with are younger, with a sense of mind-reading victim-entitled snobbery that I find disgusting. Even women my age are largely infected with the “woe is me we have it so bad aren’t all men stupid and dumb” mentality.

    It’s not true. We’ve got it great, and have had it great my whole life–even with the garbage feminism threw at us like abortions and easy divorce.

    I can do anything I want, and have always been able to do so. I’m a freeborn American woman.

  12. I have been discriminated against because of being a woman, but that was because a different woman had turned everyone off of hiring women. I didn’t blame the patriarchy, I blamed the [idiot] who left such a sour taste in everyone’s mouths that they said, “It’s not worth the risk.”

    I was also discriminated against because of my size (low). The guy didn’t want passengers seeing the pilot use seat cushions. It might make the passengers uncomfortable. *shrug* Glad I never worked for him.

    1. Reminds me of a story…

      Plane making nearly an hour-long stopover at an airport. Stewardess announces to the passengers that they have time to leave the plane, get something to eat, whatever, but be back aboard by X time. Pilot decides to take a break, too. A blind man with a seeing-eye dog is seated right by the door, because handicapped seating. The pilot asks if he wants to get up for a while. He says no, he’s good, but his dog would probably like a walk.

      So, a minute later, everybody sees the pilot walk off the plane wearing mirrored sunglasses and walking a blind man’s dog. 😀

      1. ROFLOL 🙂

        I can just visualize that. I’ve had the following happen to me. I’ve read it happening to others. Drive to a store. Get out from behind the wheel. Get my small service dog out of the back seat. I have to lift her out as she is too small to jump down (not good for her). Only to have someone say “Are you blind?” FYI, the only response is “She’s my backseat seeing eye dog.”

      1. And (at the time) being heavy enough to trip the weight-on-seat switch so that the seat would lock into position (AeroCommander, how I dislike thee).

  13. I can’t speak for the distaff(ers) but from my point of view, growing up in the fifties, I saw little oppression, some, of course but such was the exception.

    Late fifties, in college at U of F, most of the young ladies attending were working hard to earn a MRS. degree. Seemed a noble pursuit back then and from my point of view still most commendable today.

    I’m not faulting careers irregardless of gender but I do contend homemaker is a particularly honorable one and not to be sneered at.

    1. Late fifties, in college at U of F, most of the young ladies attending were working hard to earn a MRS. degree. Seemed a noble pursuit back then and from my point of view still most commendable today.

      What’s the #1 reason guys give for why they cheat, at least back when it was fashionable to ask?

      Nothing to talk about with their wife.

      So the Mrs. Degree was a very good tactic to have an idea of his friends, and the girls he’d have met, and some of the same touch-stones of history, ESPECIALLY if you’re not from the same town.

      1. Ma had concern about a USB charger that was acting screwy and she decided needed to be replaced. “It seems alright, but that’s with no load.” $HOUSEMATE mused how many women her age* would have said such. Reply was, roughly, “Remember who I married.”

        * Sure, there are exceptions. Thank goodness.

        1. A couple at a non-profit I knew had a problem with their family car. (GMC V6 with a part-plastic intake manifold). He and his wife (AKA $ENTITLED_BITCH) were all “Woe is Us!”, but I suggested they talk to the shade-tree mechanic in our common circle of acquaintences. [Narrator voice: it was a fix for under $100 in parts; mechanic cost zero.]

          $EB was complaining to $SPOUSE about how I took the situation so calmly and with an analytical point of view. (And wasn’t suckered into “we have to help Someone and Wife get a new car on our dime”).

          $EB asked $SPOUSE “how can you stand his attitude?”
          $SPOUSE: “He’s an :engineer. It’s built in”
          EB: “How can you stand being married to an engineer?”
          $SPOUSE: “My father was an engineer, my sister is an engineer, her husband is one, and their daughter is in college in engineering school.”
          $EB: Stalks off looking for sympathy.

    2. THIS. And in fact IMHO society would be much improved if women resumed that habit with the understanding that some 20 years later they will be able to kick their offspring out of the house and do whatever they want to do for the next 20 plus years. Modern medicine, nutrition etc. is such that really assumig you keep yourself in reasonable shape you can do almost anything you want at 40 that you could do at 20 and that continues for the next couple of decades at least

      1. You can’t, when you are young and vulnerable enough to fall for the grift, be convinced to cut yourself off from extended family support and, living alone, burn yourself out chasing achievement per societal demands, achievement that isn’t personally joyful, while taking a bunch of risks in one’s personal life.

        1. :::points up:::

          This is roughly what I realized when I was trying to figure out why so many of my geeky friends weren’t happy.

          If it was a group telling them they Must do this stuff, I’d be looking up cult deprogramming techniques. It’s pretty much textbook isolating an inexperienced target type stuff and cutting them off from any other support structures so that they are vulnerable to exploitation.

          Look, I chose the military, knowing that was the POINT of bootcamp– but the guys who went to college were supposedly NOT doing it.
          So how come I had more freedom of thought and a wider range of options for support networks?

          1. I was more thinking of the thing of going off to a job in a big fancy expensive place far away from home, after the degree. After being fed a bunch of ideas about lifestyle, etc.

            If you get the degree, and if you get the position, well, you usually get there after decisions that are not fully informed. In particular, there is a lot of self knowledge about fun and unfun tasks that may be missing at that age. And, even if the self knowledge is good, you don’t necessarily have a lot of information about what the job tasks are like, and how they would make you feel. Yes, bringing in folks to talk about it gives some information. If they are young, they aren’t necessarily in the place where they really observe and analyze, and may not understand people with fairly different personalities enough to help that part of the audience.

            So, there is the question of what the job is doing to one. And one’s attention may have been directed mainly to the question of whether income is coming in.

      2. I’m doing part-time telecommuting while the kids are in school. And it’s with my previous full-time job (prior to kids), so it’s a job I know (though obviously improved on the distance-work end from when I started, and that’s ALL technological improvements in the field), it’s fun, and I enjoy it.

        Admittedly, the house is trashed, but I’m working on that.

        1. And part time work in a challenging field is great.

          My point, which I probably didn’t make very well, was that if young women put motherhood first as young women then they can still have a fulfilling life afterwards when the offspring are partially or fully out of the house.

          It’s really hard to balance a full time challenging job with motherhood (which is also a full time challenging job if done properly) and the current societal advice is that young women should pursue their career until their thirties and then start raising a family. That’s backwards because biologically it’s better to be a younger mother and these days with good nutrition medicien etc. people can be active well into their 70s and expect to live to their 80s or more whereas in the 1950s people over the age of 50 or 60 generally had one foot in the grave

          1. Point was effectively made.

            I’m just strongly suspecting these days that the true cause of the pattern might be malice, and not a simple lack of wisdom.

            Consider childless women working in education, with power over the children of others, combined with the sort of political feeling that develops in harems. I’m absolutely sure that there are spinsters who are not malicious towards the children of others.

            I’m probably just pointlessly making emotional problems for myself worrying at it.

            1. From “the 45 Goals of Communism”

              40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.

              1. There’s a difference between having a intellectual goal, and feeling insanely jealous of the mothers of your students, and wanting to help the students destroy themselves to get revenge on their mothers.

            2. I am a spinster, which is why I am constantly stealing babies at church. I don’t have any of my own, so I have to ste- erm, borrow them from others. However, I have ten nieces and nephews who all refer to me as their favorite aunt. I went out and got an education. I meant it to be a backup, so I could support my family in case something happened to my husband. Well, something did happen, he never showed up. I have a career that has allowed me to support my little sister (who was young and didn’t see the warning signs) and her three boys.

              I don’t hate the children of others, though there are definitely some brats out there that need to be taken over a knee and paddled until they can’t sit for a week, and then sat down and have it explained to them that life doesn’t change simply because they throw a fit, and that sort of behavior is not going to be put up with around here.

              1. I had some specific spinsters in mind when I said there were some who were absolutely not malicious towards the children of others.

                It is just that any such category is large.

                Generally, there is an impression that America has some fairly weird, fairly dysfunctional, very unhappy people. The subset of that out to cause problems probably does not have zero overlap with spinsters in education.

                I don’t have any real grasp of the wider proportions of good and bad people generally, where the balance of the boog is concerned. I specifically do not have that information for spinsters in education.

              2. I’m an older woman with no grandchildren, so at cons, church, anywhere, I’m the woman who picks up the crying infant and walks him around, so mom can have a moment. The amazing thing is that total strangers LET ME.
                One of the contributions to the GoFundMe was a family I did this for at Liberty con, years ago. I actually remember it. ADORABLE baby.

                1. Not around a lot of babies now, except great nieces during holidays (if then because of his/her family swapping).
                  Did have fun with some co-workers not quite a year into working on the new job. R&D engineering had a habit of our small group going to lunch together. Generally the same place. Walked in to sit after ordering, walked by a family of 6. Just picked the youngest out of her high chair. My sister and her husband about fell out of their chairs laughing at the looks of my co-workers faces. Of coarse I was then mugged for hugs and kisses with the other 3 nieces. Introductions all around. Returned kid to her chair. Off we went to our table. Couldn’t have pulled it off but sis and BIL saw me, so they were part of it from the first instant I thought of it.

          2. Also, observationally, the women who have children in their 20s sustain a lot less long-term damage from pregnancy than women in their 30s, including permanent weight gain.

          3. Are there any works of fiction where that strategy is pursued? It would be interesting to read about.

      3. That’s what I though life was supposed to be like.

        Graduate high school, go to college and get married.
        Be a stay-at-home mom for a bunch of years.
        Go back to school or get a part time job when the kids were old enough to go to school themselves. (This was before the idea that “public school is child abuse” gained currency. Not that I would have sent them to public school.)
        Get a full time job once the kids are off on their own.

        … and then I missed the “get married and have kids” part of the life plan. Managed everything else except that.

        Leaves a body feeling slightly adrift, I tell you what.

  14. The one I see most regularly is, “Don’t you know women couldn’t open a credit card account without their husband’s permission?!!?!!!?”

    To which my answer is “sure, yeah, in some places… FIFTY YEARS AGO.”

    All the other branches of activism — feminist, race, sexuality, gender, etc. — want to pretend like it’s still 1970 while quietly pocketing all the benefits of it actually being now.

    1. Nobody’s tried that on me, yet.

      I’d have responses like “do you have any idea how many divorced folks I know where the issue was spouse with serious spending problem kept getting credit cards without the other one knowing?”

      Some places won’t give credit without the signature of whoever has income. It will be in line with said income. I’m a housewife, and I think that’s sensible! Can it still break? Sure, hella fast. But solutions aren’t perfect, they’re trying to find the least bad option, and they are seldom tidy and free. Or that solution would already be in use!

    2. And the reason for that was because a married woman’s husband was responsible for her debts.

      So if SHE ran up a big bill HE couldn’t pay… HE was the one who went to debtors prison.

    3. A buddy I had in Louisiana had to fight to get his bank and card companies to not give cards to his wife because she’d max them out immediately. She didn’t come across as that stupid and didn’t seem malicious, but the woman could not not use a card she had in her possession. He worked tons of OT, traveled for work alot troubleshooting, and got caught up, only to have the bank issue her a new debit card while he was out of town, and she emptied his account in a day. Luckily for him travel for work was free (Worked for the airline) so he just couldn’t feed himself for a day while traveling back home to confiscate her card. He stopped doing the higher paying work just so he could be close to home and prevent her from doing it more.

      1. If that happened ONCE I would close the joint account and never, ever give her access to ‘the family money’ again. A separate account, a monthly allowance, and when it’s gone it’s gone.

          1. indeed, that is what he was trying and eventually managed to do. Also a locked mailbox for mail and he kept the key so he could intercept card offers. Give her cash, send her out with the kids for school clothes and she’d come back with the kids fully kitted out and money left over. Send her with a VISA card and she’d max it, and the kids would have about twice the clothes and shoes, all overpriced designer b.s. and a backup pair of shoes just in case. iirc that last ATM/Debit card was used for Back To School stuff. iirc too he changed the account contact phone to his cell phone.

        1. He tried but “Oh, you’re his wife? and you don’t have an ATM card? Oh some how you are not listed on the account now, must be a mistake . . . Lemme get one out to you right away”. It was his only saving grace on that when he got them to drop the overdraft fees because she was not on the account at that time, though had been once.

          1. I’m hoping that isn’t happening anymore. There are things I cannot do with our main banking account because I am not primary on it. Not having a Debit card on it isn’t one of them, because I am listed on the account. But there are others (been awhile since I’ve ran up against it, very frustrating when it happens).

            I remember a discussion at lunch in ’99 that one of the team brought up because she was having a similar problem with her husband. Question was how many of us had a single family account. Answer, 2 of us. Her and me. Everyone else, another had his, hers, and maybe a family account. If they had a family account then it was where bills were paid out of, with each contributing from their individual accounts. There was no debit card, nor was there a credit card associated with it. Nor were cards issued to the other from their individual accounts. Ultimately she shut him out of her accounts. Then they divorced.

            We get away with it because we both have the same relationship to money. A sales person tried to shame me into buying an expensive product I really liked but wouldn’t without discussing it with hubby. Sales person said “He wouldn’t consult you about buying tires for his truck would he?” My response “Absolutely he would!” (We just had.) Lost the sale permanently. The only problem we’ve ever had with a single account is when we were balancing it back when it required manually doing so. As long as one of us did it every month not a problem. As soon as the other took it up, that month it was a PIA to balance. Didn’t matter which way. We’d be off by pennies and had to figure out where the error was. There was not a “It is close.” It balanced to the penny or didn’t. Quicken makes it soooo much easier. Ditto for CC statements. Before, take the saved receipts and cross them off. Now? Just download every few days and review them. Shred the receipts every once in a while, if we even have one.

            As far as the CC goes, we put everything on it and pay it off every month. We don’t see money in the checking or savings accounts as “free money”, that is the money we’ve spent already (CC), just hasn’t “cleared” yet. Are we as careful using the CC as primary? No. We don’t have to anymore (could change, but doubt it). Using the CC or the checking account as the original payment doesn’t matter to our current spending habits.

            1. We also have the same relationship. I think our “We must discuss this purchase” is $50. But even 10 years ago, it was $20. Anything over $20 not regular (like groceries) we discussed.

  15. My dad did have the idea that boys could do some activities at an earlier age than girls. I argued and always won those (much to my brother’s disgust). And then, in jr. high my “counselor” (a woman) said that I didn’t have to take math (and I quote) “because she’s so pretty.” I thought it was stupid, but I was happy because I hated math. Dad about stroked out. He went down to the school and quietly, but firmly (retired Army major) explained to the counselor that I would be taking math every year. He even bought me a book about how girls can do math very well because he was afraid that somebody had convinced me that I couldn’t do math because I was a girl.

    At a few jobs I did have to deal with what today would be considered sexual harassment. Dealing with that is how I learned to swear a blue streak and get really crude with some of my responses. As faculty I had to deal with sexual harassment as well but I was reliably informed that using a similar response as I had in airplane manufacturing hangars would cost me tenure. So, I had to get creative in my responses. That was actually kind of fun.

    So, yeah. Experienced things, but none of it ever held me back. Or if it did, I found a way around it.

  16. Only time I’ve complained about being mistreated because I am female it was subculture stupid. (I’m not counting the “gave birth thus stupid” thing, that’s way too many variations, some even justifiable. IE, “small child thus sleep deprived, treat like may be microsleeping.”)

    I really, really, REALLY dislike those Mexican culture groups that are in El Paso and think female thus stupid enough to pay for a manual transmission service on an automatic vehicle. Or female and thus will be over-awed by pediatrician as he makes absolute nonsense statements, such as child ATTEMPTING TO DRAW BLOOD from his finger AT THIS MOMENT will not have a single tooth for at least three months.

    Otherwise, I object to being Token. Got sent to so dang many things because female, and I hate being photographed so being in the front row really, really sucked. (My brother had the same problem as far as always being sent to stuff, because he’s quite photogenic and well spoken on top of having Grandma’s beautiful manners, but he lives to ham it up.)

    The fun thing about the internet? I have been accused of being whatever this week’s version of a he-man woman hater is sooooo many times, sometimes while months pregnant…. :biggrin:

    1. Also, FWIW, I wrote this BEFORE getting to the part on manners.

      They really are nice. The grandmother that did the “of course” stuff was also an Odd, as are both of my parents, AND it was much more rural-standard than city-standard.

      I don’t have a lack of confidence in doing the right thing, I lack confidence in knowledge of local sub-culture. They feel very different, once I figured out that the wanna-be pecking order at school was not actually going off of RULES.

      Probably the only family in town that had a discussion on local trick-or-treat customs this year. 😀
      (Because someone else reading might like it: For beggar’s night, in Iowa, it seems to be a standard that you either have the door open or are sitting on the trick-or-treater accessible area with the candy, and some conversation not related to the costumes generally goes on. There isn’t obvious competition for treats, but there is definitely some “what will blow those kids’ minds” type stuff. I greatly approve. Virginia and rural NorCal as of 25 years ago was “the porch light is on, knock” while urban SoCal was “lights on, door open, screen door probably closed.” Virginia treats was very much depending on area, NorCal was competition with other houses with a focus on home-made, SoCal was by neighborhood.)

      1. People used to frequently mistake my family as being “from money”… because we spoke well and knew etiquette. And sure, or family tree is absolutely *riddled* with aristocrats, bit my parents were the first to attend university in their families and get a degree.

        Manners are HUGE in opening doors.

  17. Well put, with your experience in Portugal giving you a great perspective to share on this problem. The post did touch on some of my anxieties, namely they can’t win but we can lose and wondering just how big of a minefield I’m staring down in one area of my life, but it’s still reassuring to have this community here. Here’s hoping things don’t get to that level of insanity.

  18. The more I think about this, the more of a conclusion that anything past Second Wave Feminism (and sometimes, not even that) is a small group of women who realize that they are not going to succeed at anything in the usual, traditional ways or even non-traditional ways (going uphill in a usually masculine world). Since that’s how their life is going to be, why not destroy everything and everyone else if they can’t have it all?

    (And, this is from someone that has a female protagonist that looks at all of this and wonder why everyone is nuts…)

    This kicks in female competition, and if you don’t think women compete, you haven’t been to a potluck where the new, young, hot, and single pastor shows up…or watching women around any male with any kind of status that is single and remotely interesting. This also kicks in harem politics, and you’ve never seen politics more viscous than harem politics…

      1. That’s part of it. Also how they try to stigmatize and destroy relatively “normal” relationships between human beings in any form. If it isn’t something that they can control directly-or influence-it has to go.

  19. I always love it when I see people talk about there’s no class in the USA. Oh yes, there is! I came out from a poverty which would shock the freaking heck out of most people. I don’t like to play ‘pity poker’, and I learned to hide that past way behind the hard science degree. I wasn’t ashamed. I was proud of coming out of nothing.

    I thought people would appreciate a real life Horatio Alger story. But nope. I found out when someone perceives a class way below them jumped way above them, the hate, envy and jealousy, is palpable and sometimes is turned into actions to, as one, supposed, friend put it, “take you down a peg or two”.

    It’s very hard to get out of the bottom rung, and it’s not just the crabs in the bucket holding you down. Sometimes it’s the people outside trying to shove you back in. Some even saying, “It’s for your own good” while trying to smash you down.

    1. Looking down on people who rose from poverty to a better condition is downright and explicitly un-American. Yeah, I know those with “the vision of the anointed” do look down on the rest of us, and many of those who make way more than they think they have a right to (think Hollywood) feel like they have to put on airs. But we’re still a cowboy culture at heart.

      1. …and somewhere deep down has to be that nagging doubt that they could have achieved as much without having so much handed to them.

      2. There’s a lot of go along to get alongs.

        They often achieve a mediocre level of success in life, chasing the expected goals, sucking up, and by rote acting as others do.

        They don’t like to wander off, get outside the books, and think things over properly.

        See the theory that effort sunk into high achievement in primary and secondary school, work appearing to have a track record of extreme success, etc., are necessarily meaningful later in life.

        They’ve tuned something in themselves to pursuing that stuff, believe very strongly that it is how the universe works. If someone is in a pattern they do not admire, and shifts themselves to an apparent pattern that they rate much more highly, it is upsetting on a fundamental level, ‘was everything they did in vain’?

      3. It is un-American by the American storyline, but it’s too darn true in real life. The weirdest thing? I’ve been around well connected. I wasn’t on their level, and they treated me with at least respect of my talent. That’s why I’ve pinned it down to the jumping over that person’s status. It’s jealousy, pure and simple. Those way above me, they have no reason to be jealous no matter how many classes I jumped. Now if I got above them? I expect the fangs and claws would come out.

        1. Can’t tell without actually seeing ’em, but I have seen that behavior in folks who got ahead by unjust means.

          Someone who got ahead by work is a threat to their self worth. Because if you can work up to it…then they cheated because they were too lazy to do the work.

          1. Most I know aren’t successful, or worse, go backwards, as they throw good money after bad. One, I most definitely knows fits the category you suggest.

            1. Mostly I wanna go smack the twerps, and I can’t. I very much dislike nasty people, and you seem like a very decent person. Even knowing they usually are miserable BECAUSE they are so nasty doesn’t help much.

              “It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world … but for Wales, Richard?” — Sir Thomas More, in A Man For All Seasons by Richard Bolt

              1. Thank you. But I’m not perfect, and my sarcastic nature comes out when attacked. I wasn’t great physically and in the poor areas of town, even the females beat each other up. My only retaliation was to rip apart with words … and I learned my trade very well. I’ve been actively working to stop that gut reaction for the last few years as it’s not a nice one to have.

            2. Semi-random thought, not sure it fits.

              Ever notice a lot of criminals put in a lot of work to being criminals, way more than it would take to just make an honest living, and are still hand to mouth?

              1. It’s very true. And it’s why criminal enterprise folk often are mind-bogglingly stupid in some ways. Josephine Tey had a character explain it as “they can’t reason from B to C.” They can get the first part—I steal this (A), I have this (B). But they can’t extend past that initial part, where there might actually be consequences.

                There was a rather fascinating comment in one of Fr. Mike Schmidt’s homilies, where he mentioned talking to a psychologist, who had said that in decades of practice, he had never seen anyone truly “get away with” anything. There are always consequences. You may not recognize them as such, or you may die before they land, but there are ALWAYS consequences and you can’t escape them.

                1. But they can’t extend past that initial part, where there might actually be consequences.

                  No wonder felons vote Democrat.

                2. The average IQ of felons in prison is 85. Enough brains to think up the crime, not enough brains to consider consequences.

                  Also, as a late friend who was a prison shrink would point out… when they finally got around to quantifying “self-esteem” it turned out this wasn’t a good trait at all. Where did it measure highest? Career criminals. (Naturally, since their principle common trait was that they could do no wrong.)

              2. Oh yes indeed. I evesdropped on a fascinating conversation 5-6 years back between the local Salvation Army Major and an older gent when we (gent and I ) were ringing bells. The Major outlined how much effort and labor some people put into avoiding work, because in their mind, it was “better” to skim, steal, and shirk than to “be dumb enough” to actually get a job.

      4. Not sure if related, but I’ll put it here anyway. A renfaire has a “winter feast” fundraiser. One year, $HOUSEMATE and I were seated at the Royal/Noble head table (likely due to then having the ability and using it to give serious aid after a particularly disastrous year). There was entertainment, but we didn’t see the best of it. And that was as it should be/have been. The entertainment was for the GUESTS, not the “hosts.”

        I think it was good to have had that experience. I also have no great desire to repeat it – and not just from wishing have a better view. It felt seriously weird to me, even though everyone knew it was all make-believe.

        1. It is related. I’ve dealt with something similar, but in real-life, not pretend, like RenFaire. The upper tables are not the best seat for entertainment. In the upper tables, it’s more about schmoozing, having an ear with someone a normal person wouldn’t have. In a RenFaire, it’s silly to talk to a fake queen, but in real life, there is actual benefit to be at the table with someone with money and/or power.

    2. Several years ago I found myself talking to a black gentleman who came up to me and unburdened himself because I was wearing a cross and he just had to talk to someone (one of those, “Well, Lord, I guess I know why I’m here today,” things). He was the only member of his immediate family who was trying to get ahead, even if it meant doing menial work for a while, and the others were united in trying to tear him down.

      1. The saddest things is the people down in the pit with you, family and friends, usually don’t understand how their behaviors hinder you, trying to climb out. It’s just a bunch of learned behaviors, that takes very, VERY hard internal work to break.

        The most nefarious is those above trying to shove you back down, ARE actually malicious. Oh trust me, after I started hiding my past, I’d sit in a gathering and hear EXACTLY what they think of the poor. About how the fee to this club or that was so high was to keep the riff-raff out. Up to things that if I repeated, well, I don’t want them anyway associated with me!

  20. On one trip to Ft. Gordon, GA, I had to sit outside an office for a while, where I could hear the secretary and a guy talking. The guy (whose name actually was, “Clyde,”) said something apparently aimed more or less at me, since I was there as a tech writer. I think that because the secretary said, “There are female electronics instructors.” (Ft. Gordon was home to the Signals School). His response: “Well, they’re just teachers.”
    I wanted to ask him if the male instructors were “just teachers,” but didn’t. That was about the closest I got to dealing with sexism.

  21. Good teachers are impressive. To not only understand a highly technical subject, but to pass that understanding on to students, is a difficult combination of abilities.

  22. Oooh! Oooh! I just thought of something that I was told, as a girl, I was NOT allowed to wish to be.

    A mom.

    Not allowed to have that as a goal, ESPECIALLY not since I’m reasonably intelligent.

    Who told me this?

    …. a Boomer feminist, of course.

    Funny, how the only folks disallowing dreams without regard for ability are the folks who spent that same time telling me that they were SAVING me from that dire end.

      1. :grins: I tell it because I find it funny– even at the time while I couldn’t phrase it clearly I was VERY aware that having someone tell me I wasn’t allowed to want something that was moral was an unusual experience– and because my now I can describe it observation might help someone else from being bulled over.

    1. Feminists have all the sympathy in the world for a woman who didn’t get to be a CEO or politician. They have no sympathy whatsoever for women who didn’t get to be wives or mothers.

      1. Hmm.

        You know, a large majority of women can be wives and mothers but only a tiny fraction CEOs. So they are setting us up to be miserable.

  23. OK this is going to be a ramble because I’m old and feel entitled since the past is also another country although there are a number of people here in my baby-boomer age cohort. So, [clears throat], here goes.

    My wife got her degrees in Chemistry in the 70’s. Certainly nobody gave her anything, but she had a male mentor and was president of the undergraduate Chemistry Committee. Also graduated in 3 years with honors and worked one summer as a research assistant at CalTech. Yet, when she had to take time off from grad school due to illness and then had to build her cash back up to go back, she was confronted with, “If you’re not married, you’re going to get married and then quit. If you are married, then you’re going to get pregnant and quit.” So she had to settle for a hole-in-the-wall lab where she, no kidding, analyzed chicken shit among other obscure chemistry. She loved to say she literally had a chicken-shit job!

    She went to one meeting of the women chemistry students in grad school, and said, “If you have all these complaints about men, we should invite them here and explain it to them.” The dirty looks she got made that her last meeting because she was never interested in bitch-sessions.

    When I got my first full-time professional job, we moved 100 miles north to a hick town, and she needed something to do between her part-time JC teaching, so she went to an American Association of University Women event. She was appalled at seeing all these “professional women” with name tags reading Mrs. John Jones. She had one name she was born with and stayed with it and was willing to grant others their own choice in the matter but was dumbfounded that these women didn’t even put their own first name on their name tags. And this was women with college degrees in 1982. She decided to volunteer as a docent at the Natural History Museum and took a class to learn about antiques instead of hanging out with such people.

    When she was an undergrad, one of her friends worked in a lab with several young men who had centerfolds on the walls. Her friend asked them to take them down. They refused. As it happens Playgirl magazine had published its first issue with a centerfold of Burt Reynolds holding a strategically placed cigar. Her friend put that up to loud complaints. She said, “It’ll come down when yours come down.” The office was soon “art” free.

    When I got my first job as a team lead, I had 5 young women working for me (not that I was much older). One day I was plugging away on my computer monitor while they were exchanging intel about the various men in the office who would hit on them. One said, “X even takes off his wedding ring sometimes.” In the background, I muttered, “I don’t wear a wedding ring.” They laughed and said, “But you act married!” When I got my annual review and raise, my boss’ boss said, “We’re very impressed with how you brought along the new-hire and how you handle that hen-party.” I didn’t understand until I left, and it hit me that he was referring to my having an all-woman team. I guess it never occurred to him to treat women like the professionals they were. Yeesh!

    I have worked with many women who are just as good as the men I work with. I find judging people based on stereotypes usually stupid although if someone goes out of his way to look like a shiftless bum, I do keep an eye out as I’m walking past him. My complaint is that we haven’t changed the workplace enough to support women and men both having families and both working. I’ve seen signs it’s changing for the better and the whole lock-down work from home nonsense may have unintentionally helped that along.

    OK, ‘nuff said, and Old Codger out.

    1. She went to one meeting of the women chemistry students in grad school, and said, “If you have all these complaints about men, we should invite them here and explain it to them.” The dirty looks she got made that her last meeting because she was never interested in bitch-sessions.

      It’s not about the nail.

      When I was younger and too stupid to know when to hold my tongue, I once found myself in a group of several women who were all complaining about how men in their lives were mistreating them in one way or another. I reasonably asked why they let those men treat them that way (cue Bob Newhart “Stop it!”), and the reaction was … not good, let’s just say.

      1. :Snickers: And that is why girl geeks are very often unpopular with feral flocks.

        For what it’s worth, that is probably the normal for Girl Groups, but it’s not the healthy one. That, I got to see some in the Lady’s Auxiliary and for various non-toxic military wife clubs (may were service members too, I tend to end up in the kitchen so kinda follow along)– you USUALLY get someone to stop the pity-fits. A club mom, so to speak.

        Otherwise you get in the Grievance Olympics, and folks can do themselves real harm by persuading themselves things are UTTERLY MAIMING and EVEN WORSE than they really were, exactly because you’re not allowed to get over it. (Folks familiar with PTSD related issues, yeah, there are some similarities and yeah, I know how hard it is to usefully explain that dynamic, but most folks are familiar with not being allowed to feel better when they’re “supposed” to be at a specific stage of mourning.)

        Funny thing?

        Sometimes, it really ISN’T about the nail. The nail isn’t causing harm, heck even in the commercial there was some of this– she was FINE, even though the guy was looking in horror at what, to him, seemed to be a ginormous and clearly terrible thing. And to switch over to medical– a lot of times, you kill someone by REMOVING the thing that’s stuck into them and shouldn’t be, because stabby-thing is currently blocking the gushing of blood. Or, to switch again, pretty sure most of us here have had the “doctor wants to treat my BMI, not the completely unrelated issue I actually came in here for” problem, even when treating the problem would probably FIX an actual unhealthy weight issue.

        1. pretty sure most of us here have had the “doctor wants to treat my BMI, not the completely unrelated issue I actually came in here for” problem, even when treating the problem would probably FIX an actual unhealthy weight issue.

          Oh, you HAD to mention that. I have friends who have so many “almost died because they wouldn’t look at the issue” stories, and (thankfully) a couple of “they kept me from dying because they didn’t go straight to the weight” stories.

          Unhealthy weight is usually a following indicator, not a leading indicator. Whether physical or psychological, if someone has unhealthy weight levels, it’s usually a medical issue before it’s a weight issue.

        2. TINS. A family member was working at Ben Taub Hospital in Houston back in 19[coughcough]. A guy is brought into the ER with a large butcher knife in his aorta. It moved with each heartbeat. It was keeping him from bleeding out from the stab wound in his aorta. Apparently there were a lot of “Oh Lord, thank you that I’m not on cardiac rotation” prayers that night. (They started by ordering a lot of blood, and then going from there.)

        1. No. In healthy cultures, men and women have genuinely different cultures. (“Healthy” here includes any culture there isn’t a war on that.) AND they annoy the living daylights out of each other. BUT they complain with love.

    2. *snicker* My friend Marsh and I did the same thing with a male centerfold, in the breakroom of our first military duty station. Yep, guys – you put up your centerfolds, we’ll put up ours.
      One of the sergeants took a look at the male pinup and said, “What’s he got that I haven’t got?” and I said, “About fifty pounds less of it and a bit more hair…”
      Yeah, I learned early on to be direct, even blunt with guys. It saved a lot of time and trouble.

      1. Yes, my wife was always around more men than women. Being a Chemist in the 70’s will do that. When, in high school, she was asked by a friend to join the Electronics Club, she asked how many girls were in the group. “Does it matter?” was the response. To her negative reply, her inviter said, “You’ll be the first.” It tended to freak people out (including her parents) that she was always doing things with 20 or so guys, but she got technical tours of Magic Mountain, a radio station, and UCLA’s computer lab. She never fit the silly nerd stereotype and occasionally had to put a crude and forward young man in his place (which she did with her own unique panache). When she went to the first meeting of the electronics club, the guys were a little awkward until one of her best friends walked in and said, “Oh you’re here Sharon, now I can’t show the pictures.” Her hearty laugh at is joke convinced everybody that she wasn’t silly and fragile, and they all were very protective of her thereafter.

    3. When spouse worked for a civil engineering firm we went to the company Christmas party. I found myself in the outside of the groups and just watched. What got me was the women introducing themselves as, “John Jones’ wife, he’s the Vice President of Marketing.” And their conversation was sorting out their status as so-and-so’s wife. I heard exactly one woman talk who said nothing about her spouse’s status. She was talking about boating.

      That was our last company party.

      1. Regarding the “I’m so aand so’s wife.” Depends on situation and who knows who. I’ve been:

        “D, M’s wife” at golf (not his work, at least early on, because we’d both worked there).
        “D, J & J’s oldest.”

        OTOH DH has been “M, D’s husband” at a few of my activities.

        Been times in scouts where the introduction could go either way depending on which of us was the primary participant. Or neither if appropriate.

        Then there are the times it has been “D & M, J’s parents” …

        Do notice the lack of status signalling. Just “this is why we are here” introductions.

        But I’ve never been “Mrs M”, not once, in 42 years and 11 months. I’ve always used my first name in introductions.

        1. I introduce by what my relevant point of connection is; most common introduction was something like:
          “I’m G’s daughter A’s youngest son’s kid, name, point of common reference they can pretend to remember.”

          There were lots of A’s in the area, but G’s daughter A was very widely known (that’s the reporter I’ve mentioned), and while nobody remembers all her boys’ names (they did the “same first letter” trick) they do remember them by age.

          Second most common is “(kid)’s mom,” and I HAVE skipped offering my name if I would would like to be better strangers, so to speak. 😀

          Wonderful meme that is somewhat related!

          1. My best moment with my mom came when she heard me be polite-awful at the snooty newcomers (well, less than 300 years) to the village who “gave themselves airs because they were rich.”
            This lady always used her husband and the double-last name.
            So she called my mom — no connection with her husband, it was about something like church choir — and said “If you can give her a message from the wife of Marques de Sa?”
            Now, I don’t know if that translates — probably not — but it’s the equivalent of “Give her a message, peasant, from lady ladidah”
            And without missing a beat (I was in a foul mood and studying for finals) I put on my best cultured voice and said “The daughter of Marques de Almeida would love to do so.”
            At which point I realize mom had come in silently, and was losing it, bursting out laughing and trying to stay quiet.
            Afterwards she told me “You shouldn’t have, but wow, totally worth it.” 😀
            I gather this woman had been throwing her weight around all village functions, and my response meant “We were here before you, and are of equal status. whadayawant?”

          2. Oh, and yes, these are HIGHLY culture specific and its super easy for people to trip on it in good faith and without realizing it. I used to cut my foreign cousins all sorts of slack.

        2. What shocked DW was that this was an all woman gathering of university graduates. There weren’t any husbands there.

          When she taught high school one year, it led to a conundrum about what to have her students call her. At the junior colleges, she always had her students call her by her first name. Some of her students were even older than she. But at high school since she wasn’t actually Mrs. Gaffney, she good-heartedly settled for Mrs. G.

          I remember one poor woman at the church we’d been going to for several years who didn’t realize we were married (and had been for 15 years at that point) because we had different last names. I usually explained to people that I chose not to change my name when we got married. That usually brought a laugh.

          1. I got the other end of this, at Husband’s office parties in the 80s and early nineties.
            “What do you do for a living?”
            And when I said I was a writer I got “What have you published? Or are you a housewife pretending to write?”
            It’s a miracle I didn’t pop anyone in the nose.

            1. Well, although that’s insulting, there are a lot of poseurs out there. When the young receptionist at our acupuncturist’s office found out my wife was a writer, she asked to see something she wrote. When we came back in, she said, “Oh, you’re a real writer!”

              1. Sure there are, but NOTE that “just being a housewife” wasn’t considered a legitimate choice. I couldn’t choose it. Not allowed. MUST have a job.
                Which is your measure of how far the other way things had already gone by the 80s.
                I STILL got that about working from home/staying with the kids/writing after I was published. “Your husband just wants you at home so he can control you.” Head>desk.

              1. As well blame the actual idiots who have children for the same folks declaring (and behaving as if) any woman with more than one child under school age needs help tying their shoes.

                The bias flatters their choices; if they were meeting Erma Bombeck it would be “oh, she only writes ad-copy,” then “she does a little weekly letter to the local paper,” then “that little mommy-note she writes actually got picked up in a sister paper” and so on.

                I watched it with women who had Real Careers ™ where my mom being a ranch hand, substitute driver, substitute bus driver and manager for multiple fairs while also doing weed board and Cattlemen’s Association was “did you know she gets paid for helping around her husband’s ranch-hand job?” or “her husband pays her to do things around the house.” (Technically true, she was 75% of the not-him workforce around the ranch.) That said Real Career women were often working for daddy was somehow not relevant. :snicker:

                These are the same folks who are shocked that agricultural workers tend to have a rather high level of education, and get shocked that my dad can talk classical music for hours on end. (He’s got an AA in musical appreciation.)

                Because of course anyone with worthwhile features would be, well, them, naturally!


                When something is so shop-worn that Gilbert and Sullivan made a crack about it….

  24. Somewhat off topic before I turn in but Sweeney conceded to Durr, the truck driver guy, in NJ admitting that all the votes had been counted. Now he lost by about 3k and they found 12k ballots. Had it been at all close he wouldn’t have conceded so doing some simple math, the majority of these uncounted ballots had to be against him. And there you have the margin of fraud.

    Some snooty Atlantic writer asked Durr how he was going to govern since he had no education or experience in governing, he said how could it be any worse? And there you have all the rest.

    Last thing. Looks like Evergrande has been at least partially bailed out. They sold the car crash and bought the cancer as the boys used to say. If this continues, I’ll have to move away from my inflation being transient thesis because actual money is now being created. Feels like 1999.

    1. This actually reinforces the idea that, like VA, they held off the fraud for an election that really counts in terms of keeping real power in Congress next year. Eternal vigilance….

  25. In recent weeks, I became acquainted with a Muslim woman who was originally from Pakistan (but was largely raised in Canada and America.) In a discussion, we came to the conclusion that current Muslim immigrant culture is largely stuck in 1950s America as regards the status of women, with an extra helping of abuse on the side. (Do note that she is very much not in the stereotypical mode, and one of the things she’s trying to do is to work the men in this subculture around to the point where her husband is—which is to say supportive, treating her and other women like human beings, and you know, just generally decent.)

    I didn’t ask her, but I think she’d be annoyed at the term “feminist.” (I met her through Wood Badge, the BSA adult leader training.)

  26. I often thank God that I was born in this great country and at this time, and have more freedom and opportunities as a woman than my mom, grandmothers, and ancestors. My two millennial daughters will sometimes complain about misogynists in the news and poor treatment of women in the workplace and how terrible it is—all true. They were horrified by the story of our former President wanting to grab a kitty, because they have never been around any men who talk that way. I have been honest with them about the realities of being female in the generations of our moms and my own experiences with those who tried to keep me from dreaming because of being female, my lower middle class upbringing, my family’s zip code, etc. My purpose wasn’t to get sympathy or complain about how awful men are, but to open their eyes that there always has been and always will be those who want to tear us down just because they can. It’s a power trip for them. I’ve taught them that the women of our family have learned how to deal with these people and to ignore them. My greatest achievements and successes in life have happened when someone told me that what I hoped to achieve was impossible. I’ve enjoyed proving them wrong. Don’t ever give the naysayers that power over you.

    1. They were horrified by the story of our former President wanting to grab a kitty, because they have never been around any men who talk that way.

      Of course they have.

      What they hadn’t had was one of the other guys in the locker-room conversation recording it, and then broadcasting the recording.

      Same way that most guys haven’t heard women being Extremely Blunt, either about biological realities or guy talking.

      Which was exactly WHY the technique of abusing a confidence and deliberately dragging things out of context was used, by the side that loves to act as if there is something wrong with talking differently in different situations. “Hypocrite” is generally the claim, by those who declared themselves shocked, shocked, SHOCKEd to find male feminists to be the biggest abusers of women when “me too” backfired.

      1. Not in a crude way. Rather, like the dominant male of that group. Which he was. The dominant male can get away with talking smack, and the subordinate males admire him for it.

        If one of the subordinates had said the same thing, Trump would have been on his case for being rude.

    2. This is not intended to pick on you. Truly. But this is a good statement to illustrate a general point.

      “My purpose wasn’t to get sympathy or complain about how awful men are, but to open their eyes that there always has been and always will be those who want to tear us down just because they can. It’s a power trip for them.”

      Men experience this all the time. It’s not a “man” thing to want power over other people for the sake of it. It’s a *people* thing. It’s a human thing. It’s not a “man” thing or a “woman” thing. And to some extent men have been conditioned to endure unfairness and abuse, probably more than women, certainly in the work place. Women can “get away with” complaining about work place conditions where a man would lose status and be called a…kitty. For every man in a CEO position there are a thousand men who are NOT. And I’d not hesitate to suggest that for every man who is controlling and abusive at home, there’s a woman who is controlling and abusive at home.

      As for the other thing, I wonder if women hear themselves when they talk about men, dating, or cute asses. Women are crude. The most shocking thing about the “kitten” incident was hearing so very many people, even men, claim that the men they know never ever talk like that. It was like listening to people repeat that the sky is certainly pink and never has been blue.

          1. It’s an animal thing. It may even be a plant and fungus and microbe thing. Dominance over others is how you assure your own survival, because you and yours get more of scarce resources. Watch a herd of sheep for a while and observe how the dominant individuals sometimes prevent the low-rankers from eating, just because they =can=.

  27. I excel academically. Graduated 5th of 800 from a wealthy Minneapolis suburban school, Phi Beta Kappa from college with degree in math, MS in applied math, worked 27 years as a statistician before homeschooling my kids. Currently in seminary. So what if a few people made derogatory comments about women and math. I loved working in a male dominated field. I got noticed and it was on me to perform. I missed a lot of female pettiness that my daughters run into in retail. Seminary is likewise male dominated. People know who I am. I don’t have a problem with that.

    As far as manners go, my mother stressed politeness and inner character. I think she knew I was bright early on and made it her mission to not raise someone with a swelled head. I didn’t realize how different I was until late college. I still help fellow students who are struggling. What are my skills worth if I can’t pass them on? I’m the family resource and glad to be it.

  28. By the way, you mentioned shoes in the post title but didn’t really comment on them in the post itself.

    I’m a big fan of women’s shoes … on women, of course. Women’s clothes by and large allow for FAR more expressivity than men’s clothes, and shoes are a particularly strong example of that. (As a seamster and sometime hobbyist designer, I’m much more aware of women’s fashion than the average straight male.)

    And while I do appreciate a good pair of sexy high heels, I would never even consider that a woman was somehow obligated to wear them for me, nor a miniskirt or any other kind of clothing I find attractive*. So when women complain that they “have” to wear heels (and other uncomfortable clothing), I wonder who is obliging them to do so.

    Actually, I lied. I know already.

    (* I would hope that a woman I was involved with would want to dress attractively for me where that was appropriate, like a date at a nice restaurant, or going dancing together, just like I would for her. That’s different.)

  29. We got married in a JP’s office.

    After the official part of the ceremony, the JP told my new wife that, in our state, the man had the right to the final words in every disagreement.

    Then he told me, “And those words will be ‘Yes, my love’.”

    Best advice I ever got.

    1. I once asked my Dad how he and Mom got along so well. He said “Your mother makes all the important decisions, and I make all the trivial ones.” I asked Mom the same question at another point and she said “Your father makes all the important decisions, and I make all the trivial ones.”

      I found out later this was a quote from the man who married them, who stated that his wife makes all the important decisions…

  30. I’ve never been into shoes like other women. If I could go barefoot everywhere I would. And I look forward to doing so in the afterlife.

    1. I’ve noticed a barefoot/shoes (in particular high heels) split in preferences out “in the wild,” with the barefoot faction being a small but significant minority. Of course practicality insists on its vote: Sensible shoes (or boots) are sensible and going barefoot frequently isn’t.

      I did have one coworker, back when I had my day job, who kept wearing high heels and kept complaining about the pain they caused her. But she was short and desperate for the extra inch or two of height.

  31. I swear to heck that there isn’t a single SF/F panel I attended where — usually on a tangential point — a woman older than I (five to ten years) doesn’t get up and go “Well, when I was in eighth grade my math teacher told me women aren’t good at math, and I should pursue English” or something like.

    In 2017 I sat in a panel at Frolicon on the Writer’s Track. On the panel was the woman who at the time (and still to the best of my knowledge) ran the Writer’s Track at Dragoncon. I’d estimate she was at least a decade older than I am now (I turned 55 yesterday). I forget the question she was responding to, but I remember her statement, “Well, fifty years ago they didn’t let women write science fiction.”

    I guess that means Anne McCaffery either wasn’t a woman or didn’t write science fiction as according to her wiki article:

    The first Pern story, “Weyr Search”, was published in 1967 by John W. Campbell in Analog Science Fiction and Fact. It won the 1968 Hugo Award for best novella, voted by participants in the annual World Science Fiction Convention. The second Pern story, “Dragonrider”, won the 1969 Nebula Award for best novella, voted annually by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Thus she was the first woman to win a Hugo for fiction[8] and the first to win a Nebula.

    It gets worse. McCaffery was not the first woman nominated for a Hugo. Leigh Brackett got a Best Novel nomination in 1956 (I didn’t bother to check other categories). Over the twenty years from McCaffery’s win for novella, three women (Ursula LeGuin, C J Cherryh, and Vonda McIntyre) won five best novel Hugos, the first two winning two each.

    Yet less than a decade ago modern female writers, younger than me, were bragging about “breaking into the Hugos where women haven’t been.”

    As writers Brackett, McCaffery, LeGuin, Cherryh, and McIntyre, along with several others, are actively being oppressed and silenced.

    By women.

    So those women can brag about overcoming oppression they never suffered.

    1. Add C. L. Moore to that list as well.

      This is one of those things that bugs me. They want to claim that:

      1.) The thing was ALWAYS sexist/racist/homophobic before Current Year

      and also

      2.) The thing was ALWAYS super-progressive and Left-dominated from the start

      They believe both passionately and completely. Is it any wonder they go stark raving mad?

      1. Oh, I was running a short list using just the Hugo novel awards. Andre Norton, James Triptree Jr., Marion Zimmer Bradley, Tanith Lee, and on and on.

    2. What about Andre Norton? When I was a young and first getting into SciFi (late 50’s and 60’s) she was my favorite read as she wrote ripping good books.

      1. My generation grew up assuming Andre was a feminine name because we’d only heard of one.

        The generation before apparently had many women to whom “Andre Norton was a woman” was a life-altering revelation. I’ve heard several.

    3. Not to mention that a woman wrote what is widely regarded as the first modern science fiction novel… Frankenstein.

    4. In the early 90s, Lois Bujold had several, including back-to-back, Hugos, and Connie Willis won one in a tie.

  32. I get it that women went to this, not young men. Though young men of a certain class were definitely also taught in “How to behave” and it was often a much, much harsher school.

    The women who Atlanta Mentors (a leather teaching organization) uses to teach protocol classes uses the United States Naval Academy etiquette book, which predates women at the Academy. You want strict rules on how to behave taught by strict taskmaster?

    Yeah, I’ll put the old Naval Academy (and any decent Leather Community, which has its roots in gay men’s motorcycle clubs) against any “finishing school”. Hell, I’ll put the Charm School intensive at Southeast Leather Fest (which I’ve done twice) up against any “finishing school” for being hard on you.

    Then again, I value high protocol situations. Clearly these women don’t.

    1. Then again, I value high protocol situations. Clearly these women don’t.

      With warning that I’m probably biased– they tend to really dislike objective standards that call on them for restraint, when they’re not simply assuming the protocol that they absorbed by growing up is the only standard.

      Which puts them well behind the 90-some year old great-grandmother at church that gets a baby fix off our kids– sure, she was an Army Nurse for two years, and a normal nurse for a decade or so after that, but she’s 90 and has been in rural Iowa nearly the entire time. And SHE knows about different baselines of behavior.

      Of course, she wants to apply manners, not use manners. It’s a tool, not a weapon.

      Again, though, I’m likely biased against a lot of these women.

  33. I bet you a lot of the things they learned are still useful, and are the sort of things people judge you on before they are even aware they’re judging.

    I was recently (yet again) surprised by an older lady at the grocery store who declared me to be ‘such a gentleman’ for the simple act of bagging my own groceries to let the harried checker at least have a chance to catch up or maybe even get ahead. Nothing special, I thought. Just very basic decency is all. This is no brag. I know I am no gentleman. Or if I am, the bar is low indeed.

    1. It would be somewhat a matter of the frequency with which she sees the sort of behavior she wishes to encourage.

  34. “It is possible to come across towns/areas that are very sure women should be seen and not heard.”

    If any such mythic place exists they would be Muslim enclaves. If any readers know of Euro/Christian localities where women are not stridently vocal, please share it with us, for I might consider moving there.

    1. Look, I too thought they were imaginary. Then I met someone who grew up in one and had the scars.
      Fundamentalist Islamic? No. But usually very small, and sometimes belonging to WEIRD cults.
      As for stridently vocal…. take a powder, willya? I will speak exactly how I please. Don’t like it? Put it to the side of the plate.

    2. Growing up (born in 1954), I’ve never heard of “women should be seen not heard”.

      Oh, and plenty of stuff done in Church (now and when growing up) was done by women. 😉

        1. Which is one reason that I support rules about men in leadership, pastors or priests and elders. It can be bad if they start telling women how to be, but men don’t come to it naturally and if you don’t make them do it, far too many men let the women take over, which means young men don’t have role models or spiritual mentors.

          I’m serious.

          1. Yes.
            I agree. To an extent this made the C of E more successful (until it got taken over) than the Catholic church, because the pastor’s wife was obviously working with her husband and could control the ‘church ladies’.
            There’s a reason “church lady” is a thing.

  35. I was born in the early 1950’s in upstate new york to hard working, legal german immigrant parents, neither of whom had gone beyond 8th grade. We were blue collar working class. I dealt with lots of anti-german sentiment during grade & middle school – but never anti-feminism. Was never told I could not do something, rather was encouraged not to settle for good enough. First in my family to graduate from college & grad school – to have a professional career in “computers & software”, get married, own a home – in essence the opportunities presented to me as an American did not go wasted. I won’t deny there was sexual harassment in the work place. Working in a mini-computer company in the late 70’s & 80’s was like the wild west for awhile – men were in the majority with few women scattered among the groups. Yet the sexual revolution of the ’60s enabled this behavior – women had been emancipated by Gloria & Betty, so all the old rules were no longer in play. Women had been freed to behave as men. Oppressed – no, not by men – but by other women. As I reflect on the progress of “feminism” since the 60’s, I see how women have come to tyrannize other women if they choose family over career, marriage over being single, belief in God over self-absorption, to be conservative over “liberal”, to enjoy & love the men in their lives over labeling them as toxic. As an older woman I can only shake my head at the foolishness I see and hear from younger American women – who are offered an abundance of opportunity and complain about it. You do not know what you have until it is gone and lost.

  36. Yeah, people use the “girls are bad at math” line at me to justify why they never performed. Those people must just live down to expectations.

    Honestly, I think it has been used as an excuse more than justification (at least for the past couple decades). I’m 39, I’m a chick, and I’m GREAT at math. Guess what I never heard growing up. Only girls who are BAD at math get the pat on the head and easy out that it wasn’t an expectation anyway. 30 years before that my mom heard it as an excuse why they wouldn’t put her in an advanced math class. But now the excuse is that smart people make dumb people feel bad.

    1. I actually am very good at math, once I figured out I’m digit dyslexic, not stupid. BUT the person who discouraged me “Maybe you’re too smart to function” was a — communist — female math teacher. The one who figured it out was also female. And she was annoyed I hadn’t figured it out earlier, because I’m great at the theoretical/invent new methods stuff, but kitchen math defeats me, particularly when I have to copy the problem from the blackboard. I’ve developed ways to deal with it when doing carpentry, because when 257 becomes 725 becomes 527 by the time I copy it…. we’ve got a problem.
      I know my methods work, as I taught them to sons — both also digit dyslexic — and they both took advanced math, one of them for fun.
      Maybe some day, given time, I’ll go back, start where I left off, and learn math to my satisfaction. BUT my calling is elsewhere, so that will be at best a hobby. And I’m okay with that.

    2. Successful people make losers feel bad. That’s life.

      It is much easier to knock down the winners than to raise up the losers. That’s leftism.

      How to be successful?

      A. Show up for work
      B. On time
      C. Sober
      D. Every day
      E. DO THE JOB!

      It’s amazing how many of ‘the oppressed’ can’t manage to meet those minimal requirements. Obviously, they’re being held down by RRRAAACISM!!!

  37. “Finishing schools” or similar gentlemen’s academies, maybe after-school clubs or groups that taught social manners to middle and lower class kids (a la Eliza Doolittle) seems to me to be an absolutely fabulous idea for getting those kids up the “ladder” a few more rungs from their parents. Particularly for people without natural affinity for social interactions.

    Maybe that’s why there seems to be such hate directed at the idea?

    1. YES.
      When I was 28 I had a close friend who was black, in the South. She had an MA, couldn’t get a job, and assumed “racism.”
      Then she dropped by my house on the way to an interview. She was wearing ratty jeans and T-shirt, and had a colorful hair pick stuck in her hair. She looked very stylish, but not for an executive position interview.
      I screamed, lent her a skirt suit, fixed her hair. She got the job.
      Afterwards she said “Why didn’t anyone tell me about that stuff in college? Instead they just told me I’d be discriminated against for my color.”
      Make of that what you will.

      1. 1. Bureaucracies. Assuming a broad problem lets you implement policy to ‘address it’. Finding and motivating faculty and staff to engage with students is harder for a bureaucracy to do. Or folks who manage by committee.
        2. To some extent, it is discouraged to say ‘yeah, there are a bunch of things that can go wrong, and you have to figure out the real world well enough to understand them, and address them all.’ I mean, if some humanities field says that all problems for drikhs are fozzlewump, the administrators go along with that because office politics prevents them from safely judging the ‘scholars’, if the senior leaders are heavy handed authoritarians they are going to discourage people from telling a drikh that there are problems beyond fozzlewump.
        3. I’ve forgotten what else I planned to say here…

        1. 3) A lot of people don’t WANT to adjust anything to get a job.

          That stupid Signs song bragged about how freakin’ clueless the POV character was, by showing that the tiny effort to not be a “long haired hippy freak” consisting of putting his hair up was enough to get acceptance.

          Gosh! Signaling “I am willing to adapt to the job” makes folks think you might fit! Gee!

      2. Had a classmate in aircraft mechanic school who was something of a metalhead*. The summer after we graduated he came and visited me while looking for a job in the Twin Cities. One place he went into, they didn’t have any openings, but the Director of Maintenance gave him some advice: Cut your hair, trim the ‘stache, and lose the earring. My buddy was fulminating along the lines of, ‘Who did that guy think he was to be telling me how I should look?’ I explained that the man was trying to do him a solid – that at the time (early ’80s) the people in charge of hiring at most aircraft maintenance facilities were going to be WW II/Korean war-era vets who might look askance at a ‘long-haired hippie’. Once he got the job, he could let his freak flag fly.

        *Took him to the range once, and before cutting loose with my .357 Magnum I handed him a pair of earplugs. He handed them back, saying, “No problem. These ears are concert-tuned.” I shrugged, turned, and let off six full-power rounds at the target. When I turned back, he was on the ground in a not-quite-fetal position with his hands over his ears.

        1. Hearing damage is a thing, one you can’t avoid by acclimation. Every loud noise adds up.

  38. What struck me in this essay was the part about upper class people going to college. I got bit by that, hard. I ended up in an honors program at my college. And there I was, the builder’s kid with a bunch of rich kids. Oh HELL no. I tanked. I was an odd already and, never mind.

  39. There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth anew each day: we have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life.

    —Eric Hoffer

  40. I was taught manners through my mother and her mother. My mother always remembered that we fell from a high estate (her grandmother was quite a grand dame). I didn’t consider it necessary until I met others who didn’t have manners and didn’t know how to be polite. 🙂

  41. Belatedly– I’ve been a fan of Erma Bombeck since I was a kid. She didn’t write scifi, she was a nationally beloved humor author who basically did a very chill mommy-blog. The good stuff, where sometimes you’ll cry because you’ve laughed so hard (I Should Have Seen It Coming When The Rabbit Died and sometimes you’ll cry because she’s writing about kids with cancer (I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise), but she always pulls you out of yourself and up. My granny read her when she had kids at home, just like many of the other Boomer’s moms, and no small number of Boomers.

    Literal 50s house wife.

    Worked multiple jobs, including writing stuff like obituaries, to save money to go to college.

    Discovered she’d been flattered in high school when she nearly flunked out of basic composition (which was a MUCH bigger deal in the 40s). Kept going at the University of Dayton, improved, and graduated…. in 1949. All under her own steam, mind you, but not against pressures.

    Kinda puts a damper in the “women weren’t even going to college” thing, eh?

    Maybe she needs to be erased because she put motherhood ahead of her career– flat out quit when she married– and then went back to it a few years later, to become nationally famous. One of those authors whose fame has nothing to do with being taken too soon, though they all are*.

    And she was actually FUNNY.

    Her stuff is online; amusingly enough, the biography (quoted on the website) is kind of dated, but her writing isn’t. It’s easy to translate the 1950s fads into 1980s or 2010. (Knitting Santa door-knob covers? Would anyone be surprised to see that on youtube?)

    *side-effect of being a good writer; folks are sorry to see you go, no matter how long you live

  42. “And one of the ways we lose is that cultures under stress revert to their basics.”

    This is one of the things that terrifies me, and angers me, about the “1619 Project” — the attempt to cast slavery as a fundamental part of the DNA of American culture, and thus something that cannot be rooted out.

    I cannot deny that slavery was there when the United States was founded; however, I would contend that the decision of Parliament to execute King Charles I and establish a Republic (however short-lived that Republic was) — and, for that matter, the decision of King John to sign the Magna Carta (albeit under duress), are far more foundational of what America was to become, than any amount of importation of slavery.

    Indeed, slavery had always been considered the deep flaw in the idealistic foundation of America’s Great Experiment.

    Trying to make slavery front-and-center, and trying to destroy the true founding ideals of America, has led me to one conclusion: the New York Times is trying to lay the foundation to restore slavery in America.

    And I suspect that those who are trying to re-establish slavery intend to be the slave-masters this time around.

    And thus, I conclude that the New York Times Editorial Staff, and the political lizard people they support, are outright evil.

    1. Part of the problem is that they’re teaching white kids they’re “guilty” but what the kids will hear, as things get worse is “We’re the master race.” Guilt unearned doesn’t stick, but the underlying “You’re guilty of dominating everyone” will. It’s a bad bad thing.

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