There’s one very odd new theme in the comments on Hall’s belligerent post yesterday. The theme is that her critics are being ageist and picking on her because she’s not young. (Last week she called herself a “tough old hen” as opposed to a chick, which as another tough old hen I quite like.)
The odd part is the emphasis on “You screwed up OLD LADY!” and how we are marginalized and not considered “with it” enough to play a part. Yet this is truly part of what feminism is supposed to be fighting, women being marginalized after they are over 30. When did, respecting people, explaining nicely (rather than DEMANDING an apology because hey, you just have not kept up with the lingo), and seeing we are stronger together rather than apart because a problem?
Ageism is quite the issue, but it is full steam ahead and we don’t care who we run over, at times.
You are obviously just not young, hip, thin, cute, clever, or hard-drinking enough to be popular, and your experiences aren’t worthy. You aren’t even very smart (regardless of that medical degree you seem so proud of). I’m in the same boat. My advanced age means that my STEM degree, my years of working in a industry that is less than 5% female, and managing to rise to the top and earn a 6-figure salary, a company car, availability of a private jet, and bonuses more than most people’s salaries, means I also do not know a damn thing about what women have to struggle with to succeed in any business, must less a good-old-boy one. Having professors tell me that I was taking a slot away from a man, who MIGHT HAVE TO SUPPORT A FAMILY, wasn’t harassment or life-changing. (I spend all my salary on trivial things, apparently.) And since I’m no longer young, hip, thin, cute, clever, or hard-driking enough to be hit on in bars, I don’t understand the harassment that women face. Sometimes, when some of us state that we do not feel unsafe, or haven’t been harassed at a conference, not only are we accusing women of making it it, or exaggerating, etc., I hear the unspoken words “Of course YOU haven’t been harassed or attacked. Because you are not young, hip, thing, cute, etc.” Yep, I was told this. The ugly unspoken little secret among some women.
Are you kidding? Seriously?
Does anybody call Harriet Hall Prune or Hatty McPrune? My “critics” call me Prune and Ophie McPrune. Does anybody call her cobweb cunt? My “critics” call me cobweb cunt. Do Hall’s critics make endless jokes about how sexually repellent she is? Do they constantly say how old and ugly she is? Do they do YouTube videos to say how old and ugly she is? Do they photoshop her head onto women in bikinis? Does she ever get anything remotely resembling any of this? Not that I know of. Not that I’ve ever seen. I get it every day.
Commenters picked up the theme and repeated it several times as the thread grew. A couple more –
What seems to have emerged here (other than the sadly predictable internet fustercluck) is a manifestation of an intergenerational schism in the skeptic movement. As a 49 year old feminist/atheist, I am old enough to recall the institutional barriers to women that are now illegal because of the heavy lifting done by people like Harriet. Will’s comment that Harriet “has had 40 years” to educate herself on the new terminology and other more pointed anonymous comments on Twitter and elsewhere reflect a systemic ageism on the internet, the arrogance of youth and relative inexperience, and a failure to recognize (they are too young to have seen it first-hand) that semantics are provisional at best and change over time.
Looking at posts by Will and Rebecca, I cringe to recall my own snark and the disrespect I had for my elders back in the day. I am grateful there is no permanant record of same, and I use threads like this to educate my teenage daughters, encouraging them to do some of their growing up away from a keyboard.
That’s not it. Sorry to burst the bubble, but it’s not. I’m a million years old [vide supra] but I don’t agree with Hall’s take – and I know plenty of contemporaries who also wouldn’t agree with it. That take was conservative 40 years ago and it still is. It’s not generational. It’s a view. Hall has plenty of young women on her team, and there are plenty of us cobweb cunts on other teams.
One more: Chris:
It seems that the theme here is also dismissing the accomplishments of women breaking down gender barriers forty years ago, and at the same time reminding me why I hated high school cliques.
No. It isn’t. The theme is saying breaking down gender barriers is great, but also, women shouldn’t have to break down barriers in the first place, so just telling women to push harder while not “complaining” i.e. trying to say what the barriers are and why it shouldn’t be up to individuals to break them down, is not good enough.