Sending sexism scurrying from schools


There is so much to love about the new guidelines on sexist language that are to be circulated to schools. Firstly, the Telegraph is furious, which is always a good sign.

Their piece helpfully includes a panel explaining the type of phrases which should no longer be considered acceptable in schools. 

sexist phrases

 

Now, would anyone like to mount a case for the defence? Can anyone seriously claim that anything like this should be considered acceptable in schools, from teachers or students? Thought not. I’m not saying anyone caught muttering such words should be instantly packed off to the Andrea Dworkin Memorial Feminist Gulag for reprogramming, but a quick “Oi, none of that language here, please” would certainly be in order.

What is most gratifying in that panel, however, is the inclusion of the phrase ‘man up’ which is a particular bugbear of mine. It not only polices masculine gender norms in a very restrictive and damaging way (no surprise to see the wonderful mental health and suicide prevention charity CALM tweeting their praise this morning), the phrase also serves to exclude women and girls from certain levels of attainment.

Buried within all the coverage, however, was another detail that made me briefly punch the air in appreciation. These guidelines were originally produced by the Institute of Physics as part of their drive to get more girls involved in STEM subjects. The institute has quite correctly adopted a more holistic approach than the ‘paint the laboratories pink’ strategy which sometimes permeates this issue. It was a quote in the Huffington Post that really caught my admiration.

Dame Barbara Stocking, who is chairing the event, said: “We know we have a problem with gender stereotyping of subjects in schools.

“This is particularly an issue for girls in maths, physics and engineering, boys in modern foreign languages and a general under-performance in GCSE grades.”

IOP president Professor Roy Sambles said: “The low uptake of physics among girls has been a long-standing concern of ours and a problem that we’ve been trying to deal with for some time.

“But we’ve found that it’s not a job we can do completely by ourselves and that there’s a lot in common between the low numbers of girls taking physics and similar gender imbalances in other subjects.”

The logic here is so obvious and important that it is astonishing it is so rarely spelled out. The under-representation of girls in STEM is a precise corollary of the under-representation of boys in other subjects. In this (rare) instance, gender politics actually is a zero sum game. In blunt terms, if boys feel marginalised and excluded from subjects like languages, humanities and the arts, where else is for them to go but to STEM? If girls feel marginalised and excluded from STEM, of course they will end up over-represented in other subjects.

You don’t need a GCSE in maths (or physics) to work that one out, but it does seem beyond the intellectual reach of some of those devising educational policy. Well done to the Institute of Physics for cottoning on.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. That Guy says

    I have a lot of love for the IOP’s stance on gender issues, which is impressive for an organisation that could so easily have sunk into the mire of an old boy’s club.

    Their position on this matter, that girls are essentially ‘driven out’ of physics by gender expectations rather than having some ‘inherent dislike’ of the subject is based on a study a few years ago they did,

    http://www.iop.org/news/12/oct/page_58519.html

    tldr version, in mixed gender schools, uptake of physics was low compared to other sciences, whereas in all-girls schools, uptake of physics was much higher-

    Anecdotally, one of the female physicists I spoke to who went to an all girls school said that “if there isn’t any boys, then you don’t really think about if it’s a boy’s subject or a girl’s subject”

    This is of course, a data point of one, but I can’t argue with the IOP’s conclusions.

    I never thought of the idea of boys being ‘pushed’ out of the humanities and non-stem subjects in a similar manner, partly because of my own pro-STEM bias- (why would Anyone want to pick non-STEM over STEM?) but I do remember my mum saying things like “Oh that’s an Arty Farty subject”.

    In retrospect, it really is obvious, that our society seems to split everything into ‘left brain logical and male’ and ‘right brain creative and female’, and this kind of gender policing bleeds into schools from teachers, parents and peers.

    In addition to ‘man up’ grinding my gears, another one is parents describing their daughters as either “artistic” or “not analytical”. This is probably true in some cases, but it being used so universally makes it likely to me that it’s a top-down imposition from the parents. This doesn’t do any wonders to someone’s confidence.

    p.s. lol@ the telegraph thinking it’s an outrage that we can’t use homophobic language in the classroom anymore.

  2. StillGjenganger says

    @ That Guy 1
    I agree that you have the mechanisms right. I do have some qualms about the general project of getting rid of gendered expectations, though.

    For one thing, males and females fairly obviously form two distinct and different groups. So if both are around (as they are in mixed-sex schools), divisions into boys’ and girls’ things would tend to form automatically unless continuously repressed.

    For another, any realistic reorganisation of society would still leave women with several important and positive “woman’s things” to form a gender role around:
    – Bearing and breastfeeding children, which only women can do.
    – Faster development of fine motor skills and the ability to sit still, which will start girls out as better students and more adapted to school.
    – The courtship pattern of ‘desperate young men competing for desirable young women’, which I do not think we can ever get rid of.

    Men, on the other hand will have only muscle strength and aggression. Which skills, now that there are no mammoths to be hunted or sacks of grain to lift, are obsolete at best, sinister at worst. If there are no positive “men’s things” to counteract the female ones (like achievement or engineering), I fear that the men of the future will grow up as clearly ‘separate and inferior’ compared to women.

  3. ASDFGH says

    @StillGjenganger

    For one thing, males and females fairly obviously form two distinct and different groups. So if both are around (as they are in mixed-sex schools), divisions into boys’ and girls’ things would tend to form automatically unless continuously repressed.

    I don’t see that. Tall and short people are different groups and tall people have a range of advantages over short people, with little to counteract that. Nonetheless, we don’t divide ourselves up by height.

  4. StillGjenganger says

    @ASDFGH 4
    I do not think that holds. All known societies, pretty much, have seen men and women as different in kind, with different roles and duties. The vast majority of languages are structured around reflecting this difference, to various extents. Men and women have different roles in producing the next generation (a fairly important endeavour), and sex generally determines which people you see as viable bedmates (be you gay or straight). Anyway, tall and short people are not different groups, just different. There is a continuous height distribution with most people in the middle, and fewer towards the extremes. For sex there is a clear division in two visibly different kinds, with few people indeed in the androgynous middle.

  5. David S says

    I don’t object to any of that, but I’m not sure I understand the “cupcake” one. I’ve never heard anyone get called a cupcake, and I don’t think I’d consider it particularly gendered if I did. Is this just because I’ve lost touch with youth culture?

  6. sonofrojblake says

    one of the female physicists I spoke to who went to an all girls school said that “if there isn’t any boys…”

    Good job she went into STEM. Languages (including English) were obviously not her strong point.

    our society seems to split everything into ‘left brain logical and male’ and ‘right brain creative and female

    Sure, because the creative arts are such a female space. So biased against the men. I remember just the other day Jennifer Lawrence saying how gratifying it was that she was paid so much more than her male co-stars and … no, hang on, bad example. There’s that sexist imbalance in acting, though, isn’t there, where much older actresses are paired with improbably young love interest men, like in, um… no, bad example. Forget acting. Writing! That’s such a woman’s thing, isn’t it? Wilhemina Shakespeare, Harriet Robbins, Letitia Tolstoy, Charlotte Dickens. Poor George Eliot had to change his name and pretend to be a woman, didn’t he? Didn’t he? Hmm. Bad example. Music! That’s for girls. Just look at the top ten biggest earning bands – The Beatles, U2, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, Queen, ABBA – there are two women in the tenth biggest band! Admittedly not the actual writers of the music, but y’know… OK, bad example. Classical music, there are all those great female composers and conductors like… bad example. Television, film directing, poetry, opera, theatre production, journalism, comedy, drama, sport, architecture, sculpture, painting, conceptual art… in pretty much every field, for every female role model you can find (if you can find any) there are dozens or hundreds of men.

    I confess I’m baffled at the inclusion of the word “cupcake”. Not going to defend its use, though, simply because I’ve literally never heard it used and therefore am not qualified to say it’s not sexist. All of the rest though – hell yeah, cut that shit out right now and why the hell does anyone need telling this in 2015?

  7. redpesto says

    Fogg:

    The logic here is so obvious and important that it is astonishing it is so rarely spelled out. The under-representation of girls in STEM is a precise corollary of the under-representation of boys in other subjects.

    It’s ‘rarely spelled out’ because (a) the lack of boys doing English A level is never seen as a problem (see sonofrojblake #6); (b) that shortfall isn’t seen as a discrimination issue; (c) the assumption is that there is an infinite amount of girls to make up 80%+ of English A level students and 50% of everything else (it is mathematically possible, but only if more girls than boys take up A leve– hang on, that’s already happening isn’t it?).

    In other words, one outlier is regarded as a scandal while the other is met with a shrug – and no-one spots that the maths can’t possibly add up (see also nursing v firefighting). The current pursuit of ‘gender parity’ (see the Women’s Equality Party and numerous articles in, say, the Guardian) risks making the same mistake.

  8. redpesto says

    That Guy:

    Anecdotally, one of the female physicists I spoke to who went to an all girls school said that “if there isn’t any boys, then you don’t really think about if it’s a boy’s subject or a girl’s subject”

    And conversely, an all boys’ school would mean boys could take up ‘Arty Farty’ subjects.

    However, most UK high schools are mixed. For the well-off there are always single-sex private schools, but it’s an expensive way of enabling Jenny to study Physics or Jolyon to study Drama.

  9. That Guy says

    @6) sonofrojblake – Is there any need to be such a fucking asshole? Is your argument that study of the humanities and arts is seen as equally masculine as STEM? If so, you are wrong. No matter what the problems are in the arts (which there are many, as you pointed out with industrial levels of snark) the problems for women in STEM are more numerous and more severe. Physics in particular has many issues with representation of women- women are largely ignored in the field, a former president of the IOP who helped discover pulsars is an example.

    While Jennifer lawrence, Nicki Minaj, J.K. Rowling etc face problems of sexism and racism in their industries- their visibility and mass media recognition as role models for young girls illustrates that in STEM, things are worse where role models are conspicuous by their absence.

    Are you going to tell me that you have not heard of the stereotype of the male yet fey artist? Or the female but androgynous scientist? You should watch Billy Elliot and the Big Bang Theory. It’ll be an education for you.

    @redpesto I don’t know of any research into male uptake of ‘feminine’ subjects in single gender schools- so you may or may not be correct. The point behind the report isn’t to praise single gender schooling- that inevitably creates other problems- but to underscore that these expectations of girls are informed by their environment. If you were being optimistic, you’d take this as a sign that it is possible to root out gender policing in mixed schools too, we just need to find the right approach- for example, removing sexist language in the classroom.

    P.s. I’ve heard cupcake used as a pejorative towards men and boys behaving feminine or insufficiently many- because little cakes with icing are seen as feminine.

  10. nrjnigel says

    I’m assuming that the Telegraph’s story that it isjust girl pupils to form informing squads, particularly as some of the quoted terms are to shame boys into their roles. The whole STEM thing is bogus as girls do do the sciences that are relevant to their career preferences such as medicine and allied health professions. It really is a gross simplification to suggest girls don’t do science.

  11. Steersman says

    While I’m not sure that I would “mount a case for the defense” of all of those phrases and words, I’m also not sure that all of them really should be anathematized or made verboten, even if it’s only through the use of a mild “Oi, none of that language here, please”. Seems to me that the crux of the matter is that there are any number of stereotypes associated with each sex that may or may not be accurate – for instance, Wikipedia notes (1) that “These thoughts or beliefs [stereotypes about individuals or groups] may or may not accurately reflect reality”. And that those stereotypes can entail or encapsulate various characteristics that can be either positive or negative, that can be things to emulate and promote versus those to deprecate and demote. It seems hardly inappropriate to offer the young various positive and negative role models that are likely to be of some value both to them, and to the society that supports them and that is, in turn, supported by them.

    Although I will readily agree that virtually any suggestion that any of those stereotypical attributes, particularly the negative ones although the positive ones can be problematic too, are characteristic of each and every member of the associated groups might reasonably be deprecated as manifest sexism: like racism, essentially, an assertion that each and every member of class X is somehow superior or inferior to each and every member of class Y.

    However, I think one might reasonably argue some are overindulging in political correctness in some of the cases you listed: surely “cupcake” is sufficiently gender/sex neutral to not raise any reasonable person’s hackles, and merely suggests a shortage of “jam” – which may or may not be “good thing”; and “make me a sandwich” has to be construed as a jest which should be responded to accordingly; and while “don’t be a girl” might reasonably be construed as sexist, I expect that “don’t be such a girl” – suggesting one particular negative stereotype applicable to some rather than one applicable to all girls – is better dealt with by challenging the implicit stereotype itself rather by curtailing free speech.

    But where the wicket gets a little sticky is in dealing with the question of the accuracy, or not, of those stereotypes in the first place – which do, in fact, despite those who insist on “Not in Our Genes” (2) (accompanied, literally, by pouring cold water on those scientists who argue otherwise) – show some significant variability by sex, i.e., that sex is likely a significant contributing factor. While some people make rather too much out of slight differences in the averages on some traits – like Milo Yiannopoulos in his Breitbart post (The Smartest People In The World Are All Men) (3) on IQ tests – and give some evidence of having an axe to grind, it seems many other people rather obstinately want to ignore or discount what are still significant differences in other traits.

    For instance, men are some 10 times (4) more likely to be in prison for crimes of violence (murder in particular) than are women (“[violence], it’s more of a guy thing”). Although it should be emphasized that, as with many of these types of comparisons, the behaviour of subsets of populations don’t generally apply to the entire populations themselves. For example, that some 2% of women might be violent and that some 20% of men might be violent merely supports that 10 to 1 ratio, but it doesn’t justify a categorical assertion that “men are more violent than are women”.

    But, to address the STEM case, it seems that there too many are reluctant to consider that inherent differences in interests between the sexes may well have a significant impact on the numbers wishing to pursue those avenues. Consider this passage from Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (pg 352):

    But there is something odd in these stories about negative messages, hidden barriers, and gender prejudices. ….. One of the rare exceptions was a sidebar to a 2000 story in Science, which quoted from a presentation at the National Academy of Engineering by the social scientist Patti Hausman:
    The question of why more women don’t choose careers in engineering has a rather obvious answer: Because they don’t want to. Wherever you go, you will find females far less likely than males to see what is so fascinating about ohms, carburetors, or quarks. Reinventing the curriculum will not make me more interested in learning how my dishwasher works.
    An eminent woman engineer in the audience immediately denounced her analysis as “pseudoscience”. But Linda Gottfredson, an expert in the literature of vocational preferences, pointed out that Hausman had the data on her side: “On average, women are more interested in dealing with people and men with things”. Vocational tests also show that boys are more interested in “realistic”, “theoretical”, and “investigative” pursuits, and girls more interested in “artistic” and “social” pursuits.

    While it is, no doubt, moot what is the magnitude of the differences between the averages, and to what extent they might be a consequence of cultural influences, it seems rather difficult, and rather unwise, to deny such differences, both in particular and in general. Further elaborations on those differences can be found in the online version of the chapter from which that quote is drawn (5).

    —–
    1) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotype”;
    2) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_in_Our_Genes”;
    3) “_http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/10/02/sorry-girls-but-the-smartest-people-in-the-world-are-all-men/”;
    4) “_https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_6_murder_race_and_sex_of_vicitm_by_race_and_sex_of_offender_2013.xls”;
    5) “_http://www.pasadena.edu/files/syllabi/txcave_18360.pdf”;

  12. StillGjenganger says

    @Steersman 11
    Good one.

    @That Guy 9

    these expectations of girls are informed by their environment. If you were being optimistic, you’d take this as a sign that it is possible to root out gender policing in mixed schools too,

    ‘Gender policing’ is a very loaded way of putting it. Any social role is ‘policed’, in that those who conform to role expectations are more easily dealt with, and those who go against them are a little more demanding and tend to cause some surprise and minor friction. Consider female pilots who complain at being seen as slightly weird exceptions – and at people deferring to their male co-pilots. Social roles are certainly modifiable socially, but I would say that the ‘natural’ state would have gender roles. The sexes are visibly different and have different roles in their future lives (childbirth and sex). And children try to conform to social expectations, it is how we are socialised. Once identified as members of different groups the question arises automatically ‘how are people like me different from people like them’. And any observed differences would be taken up and probably amplified, as children live into their roles.

    You can quite likely mould the roles a lot, with sufficient systematic social pressure. But the more artificial the roles – or lack of them – the heavier pressure would be needed, and the higher the cost to various individuals.

  13. That Guy says

    @ StillGjenganger 12

    Sorry, I’m not buying this. I’m pretty sure that I’ve butted heads with you before over the issue of genders being ‘fundamentally’ different so I’m not going to engage you on this. I feel that the difference between genders (on average) is dwarfed by the variability within genders, and that social factors inform the majority of the percieved difference, almost completely so in children.

    IIRC you don’t and you’re not doing to change your mind either.

  14. StillGjenganger says

    @That Guy 13
    We may have met before, yes.
    The thing is, you do not need the genders to be all that different. Once you see men and women as different kinds of people – which tends to follow from basic biology – all you need is enough of an average difference that some traits come out observably as ‘girl things’ and some traits come out as ‘boy things’. The dynamics of the formation and maintenance of social roles will then amplify the differences, as girls shy way from ‘boys things’ and vice versa. To avoid that you need people to think only in terms of ‘people’, identically part of one indivisible group. And I do not think that is achievable.

  15. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger (14)

    You are quite right, I think, that you’ll get the emergence of ‘girl things’ and ‘boy things’ as a consequence of even tiny natural differences being amplified.

    However it is simultaneously true that what those girl things and boy things *are* is pretty much arbitrary and in most cases they have emerged in order to fulfil roles in a capitalist, hegemonic economy.

    If we wish to change or shape our society, which is after all the goal of all politics, it is perfectly reasonable that we might wish to change what we consider to be ‘girl things’ or ‘boy things’ so as to get more (or fewer) people involved in X,Y or Z.

  16. Ben Finney says

    StillGjenganger #14:

    To avoid that you need people to think only in terms of ‘people’, identically part of one indivisible group. And I do not think that is achievable.

    It’s not necessary to get people to think only in those terms. We are complex, we can acknowledge the realities of biology while still refusing to slavishly acquiesce to it.

    We can acknowledge the facts of biologically imposed injustice, while also working to avoid its entrenchment as social injustice. We can work to ensure our institutions (for example, the schools discussed in this article) correct those injustices and level the playing field.

  17. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 15.
    I do not think they are all arbitrary. Pregnancy, testosterone levels, maturation of sitting-still-at-a-school-desk ability, will have their input. But you are quite right that it could be reasonable to change some of them. The big point for me is that women will always have at least the motherhood-related ones (and, I believe, others too) as an important and positive thing specific to women. So, if we accept that there will be gender-specific roles, we should consider what kind of positive and important things might be seen as mostly male. ‘Inferior as many things and better at nothing’ is not a good way to grow up. As the Economist pointed out once, even if women were better than men at all school subjects from languages to maths, the law of comparative advantage would still direct men towards the area where they sucked least, which on current trends would make STEM subjects a ‘male thing’.

    Of course, if we do not accept that there will be gender roles, we should explain how we can achieve that result, reproductive biology notwithstanding.

  18. Marduk says

    If you read the report(!) its actually sensible, sober and scrupulous in being fair handed. I particularly like that they note boy’s poor achievement is a gender issue and should be treated seriously. While talking about programmes to get girls into maths, they also talk about programmes to get boys more into literacy. Its very hard to find fault.

    It isn’t really about sexism (or “squads” of stormtroopers from the Junior Anti-Sex League) as much as stereotypes and culture.

    As usual the hacks scanned the press release and jumped to the wrong conclusion. As the IOP themselves note, while stereotypes are a problem, the argument that this is due to sexism in the sense of ‘patriarchy’ doesn’t work as this is mostly a white western problem (i.e., it isn’t even a problem in Iran where there is an actual patriarchy whose official policy is try and remove women from STEM…).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_gender_restrictions_in_education

    This might be a bit disappointing for a certain type of white middle-class feminist, but if anything there seems to be an inverse correlation between patriarchy and girls in STEM. There is a problem in the UK and the US, there isn’t a problem in Asia, Eastern Europe or even Africa or the Middle East (at least in those places where girls are allowed any kind of education, point being they aren’t doing English Literature or Sociology either).

    Aside from the cultural norms we have, I think another issue (and the Iran situation is a clue to the difference) is really that in the West STEM fields are not really valued, people who go into them are looked down on, the pay is typically not great and the job security poor. Thatcher was a chemist and Merkel was a scientist, but its hard to think of many high profile figures in politics or even the aristocracy who have a technical education, in other parts of the world like China its similar to the status of being a veteran in US politics, not essential but definitely useful.

    We live in financial service economies that reward different things, naturally the people who do best in education (girls) go where the best levels of status and pay are. That isn’t in STEM. Arguments might be made about averages but obviously everyone wants to win, you want to be Polly Toynbee, not someone who tried to be and ended up in a coffee shop. Equally, you can talk about Mark Zuckerberg but we don’t talk too much about the 99% of web entrepreneurs who go bust. People need to understand that survivorship bias is “a thing” and be very careful when just focusing on winners and losers in various competitive things especially when they involve shouldering risk.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivorship_bias

    But this is as much an “end of men” thing as it is a girls in STEM thing, there is a deeper context to all this and it is to do with specific societies and economies.

    All that said, obviously young people should be given every help in terms of doing what they want to do and not being held back by old thinking, daft informal rules, flawed expectations, peer pressure or anything else. The IOP make interesting suggestions about how to facilitate all these things and its actually very nice to read a report that is about solving problems and not just wallowing in them.

  19. Marduk says

    I’m not an anthropologist but if you were going to see where these views come from, it seems that technical stuff has historically been regarded as either for ‘the weird’ (and the early years of the Royal Society don’t exactly argue against this) or, basically, its dirty, grubby work (perhaps because we industrialised first).

    If there are two things respectable middle class women (or those who aspire to be) and ‘Gentlemen’ (because old money doesn’t do STEM either) don’t do, its gravitate towards fields filled with weird men or jobs where they get dirty.

    Of course this belief is outdated because STEM fields are generally filled with normal people and is rarely dirty or physical at all but I suspect it persists as a cultural trope.

    In other parts of the world, that industrialized later and didn’t have such rigid class structures, nobody ever saw STEM that way to begin with. Its a way to get rich (‘new’ money) and its a way to be a bit of a solid citizen and maybe even become a hero who lifts the nation.

    Its a tragedy of modern Britain, the country of Faraday, Kelvin, Brunel, Newton, Crick, Watt and Darwin (etc etc) that most people are more familiar with 2nd string Manchester United players than the heroic figures who pulled the modern world up out of the dirt. This is not the case elsewhere.

  20. StillGjenganger says

    @Marduk 19
    Not sure you have that one right. It may be that ‘gentlemen do not actually work’, but I do not think there are enough of them around to set those norms. Certainly the stereotype is that men want to work with things, action, and competition, whereas women prefer people, stability, and cooperation. And that stereotype is quite common.

    Other reasons might be:
    – Fewer people study in Iran (or do they?). That would mean that a female engineer is no more odd than a female journalist, and more respect goes to the profession regardless of the sex of the holder. It also means that the women who do study may be more subject-driven.
    – There may not be the space for women to fill up a large state bureaucracy, as they do in the west, because they would not be allowed the power there. So you go for engineering instead. Maybe the mullahs are less likely to object to a woman designing a bridge than one running a department?

    As for low power and low pay: The pay in not that low. And an analysis of the Danish power elite found that most members had studied at a tiny number of specific university departments. Which included law and political science, as you might expect, but also engineers from the Technical University of Denmark. Humanities or art did not figure highly on the list.

  21. proudmra says

    Hmm… While all the listed remarks are clearly rude, clueless, and demeaning, I can’t jump on board with giving a school carte blanche to outright BAN terms that are considered offensive. Obscenity? Yes. But if calling someone ‘cupcake’ or ‘sissy’ brings down the wrath of a speech code, what about calling someone a ‘creep’ or ‘loser’? Or ‘boogerhead’? Yes, it’s a slippery-slope argument. But do we really want to set the precedent that schools should be dictating what words students are and aren’t allowed to say?

  22. Ally Fogg says

    proudmra [21]

    You say you are fine with a ban on “obscenity” but why?

    Personally, as a parent, I am not at all bothered by my 13y-o saying “fuck” but I would be appalled (and give him a proper mouthful) if I heard him call someone a “sissy” which is far more offensive and anti-social.

    Would you be OK with a school disciplining students for using racist language? If so, then why not sexist or homophobic language as well?

    Personally, I think schools should operate to the same rules as any other public space – is this language appropriate for the context, whether a workplace, a broadcast studio or a classroom. And I have no problem saying that the type of language used as examples here have no place in a workplace, so why in a school?

  23. Marduk says

    #20

    I think I’m trying to present a split between what goes on in specific cultures and what are more essentialist type views.

    And no, Iranians are very keen on Higher Education, numbers are about the same as the UK (maybe a little higher) when you adjust a bit for having a younger population. They have a long standing tradition and of course prior to the revolution, it was a very different place. Throughout much history Iran has been a far more educated country than our own dour island. Generally I don’t buy the state bureaucracy argument as many countries again have more equal STEM representation who have significantly larger bureaucracies than we do. If you get away from Iran, numbers in India have been doubling every five years, in Mexico you’re looking at parity in IT careers, even odd places like Guyana have female dominated tech sectors.

    I think the point is that the differentiation in the west is really extreme by the standards of nearly everywhere else. We can have preferences but this beyond a joke. I’m suggesting the cause is culture and economy. Admittedly you could claim that this is actually a symptom of affluence and safety nets but I think the numbers are so skewed even that doesn’t work as an explanation and Scandinavian countries do a lot better anyway.

    Maybe I should have said “Anglo-sphere” rather than “the west” but France and Germany have the same problems.

    Overall point is, we’re not the ‘normal ones’ and its only in our minds for some odd reason there is a connection between gender and career choice in this area (exactly what the IOP wants to move away from).

  24. Carnation says

    Whilst the posturing about STEM is interesting and all, I think that boys “manning up” and boys not “acting like girls” literally kills males and I’m shocked and pretty disgusted that it’s taken this long for schools to robustly challenge this with a wide-ranging strategy.

  25. redpesto says

    That Guy #9:

    @redpesto I don’t know of any research into male uptake of ‘feminine’ subjects in single gender schools- so you may or may not be correct.

    Trading anecdote for anecdote, it’s happened in my family. Failing that, there’s this article.:

    Far from the traditional image of a culture of aggressive masculinity in which students either sink or swim, the absence of girls gives boys the chance to develop without pressure to conform to a stereo­type, the US study says.

    Mind you, the article does go to quote the headteacher of Eton: in other words, the same vested interest private schools have in single-sex education that I’ve mentioned already

    P.s. I’ve heard cupcake used as a pejorative towards men and boys behaving feminine or insufficiently many- because little cakes with icing are seen as feminine.

    In the Star Trek reboot, Kirk uses it as an obvious wind-up to a Star Fleet member who’s twice his size. It does not end well.

  26. proudmra says

    Ally @22:

    “You say you are fine with a ban on “obscenity” but why?”
    Only in schools, among minors. Once you hit college, all restraints should be off.

    “Personally, as a parent, I am not at all bothered by my 13y-o saying “fuck” but I would be appalled (and give him a proper mouthful) if I heard him call someone a “sissy” which is far more offensive and anti-social.”
    Which is a parent’s job; I’m all for that. I’m NOT all for a school stepping in to do that sort of parenting.

    “Would you be OK with a school disciplining students for using racist language?”
    Actually, no I wouldn’t. I’d be okay with a school disciplining students for disrupting the learning environment, and even reporting their actions to the parents.. .but not putting restrictions on what words students are allowed to use.

  27. StillGjenganger says

    @Marduk 20
    We are getting where we ought to have properly referenced data (and I do not). But for Denmark, I think it is for Scandinavia as a whole, it is noted in debate that women are much more numerous in the state sector and men in the private one. Some feminists are complaining at the non-equality of it. I have seen it mentioned as a pattern, that women go for places with solid maternity-friendly rules and stability, whereas men go for jobs with more demanding time requirements, higher risks, and higher rewards. As an anecdote, Denmark is currently moving a number of government institutes (think: the DVLA in Swansea) away from the capital. One of the official arguments, supported by the relevant industries, is that there are industrial clusters in the provinces, e.g. the oil industry around Esbjerg (the local Aberdeen), and it is a significant problem to get engineers etc. The engineering jobs are predominantly taken by males, and there are no employers nearby that hire large numbers of female graduates, so the wives are unwilling to move. Hence moving some female-heavy government workplaces out. I also came across the idea (I cannot remember where), that a larger female participation in the (educated?) workforce goes with a greater gender disparity in job choice rather than a lesser one.

    As for the countries you mention, it is definitely the case in places like Scandinavia that a huge proportion of available jobs require a lot of education, and low-skilled workers are at an increasing disadvantage. Is that really the case in Iran, India, Mexico and Guyana?

  28. That Guy says

    @ Carnation 24

    I agree. Although such views are only recently gaining traction (CALM etc.) . It maybe took the weight of an organisation and the tangible benefits of more women in STEM to create some small step towards a less repressive atmosphere for troubled men and boys.

    @redpesto- thanks for the link- I’ll have a look.

  29. Pen says

    Strangely enough, none of those phrases seem to be current in my daughter’s school. Unfortunately, the ones which are current are far worse and completely unprintable. That’s among the peer group. I’d be quite angry to learn teachers were stooping to even the milder stuff on the ‘banned’ list.

  30. Holms says

    I do not think they are all arbitrary. Pregnancy, testosterone levels, maturation of sitting-still-at-a-school-desk ability, will have their input. But you are quite right that it could be reasonable to change some of them. The big point for me is that women will always have at least the motherhood-related ones (and, I believe, others too) as an important and positive thing specific to women. So, if we accept that there will be gender-specific roles, we should consider what kind of positive and important things might be seen as mostly male. ‘Inferior as many things and better at nothing’ is not a good way to grow up.

    As you note further down, this motherhood stuff is pure physiology and thus cannot be helped. But if we are looking to gripe about physiologically advantageous stuff, boohoo men are being shafted by nature, aren’t you overlooking size the larger musculature that goes with it? You strike me as a child throwing a tanty over toys his sister has that he doesn’t, while overlooking his own collection.

    And that’s assuming the complaint even has merit anyway. Your argument seems to be that women have this and that from nature, therefore we need to have some sort of societal advantage to make up for that. I simply can’t see much to respect about this approach.

    P.S.
    Ally, have you seen the rant put up in reply by Mike Buchanan yet? It’s impressive for its petulance.

  31. Holms says

    Whoops, should have mentioned that my reply above was aimed at #20 StillG.

    #26 proudmra
    “Would you be OK with a school disciplining students for using racist language?”
    Actually, no I wouldn’t. I’d be okay with a school disciplining students for disrupting the learning environment, and even reporting their actions to the parents.. .but not putting restrictions on what words students are allowed to use.

    But racist language is banned precisely because it promotes a hostile learning environment for the minorities.

  32. Steersman says

    Ally Fogg (October 21, 2015 at 12:27 pm; #15):

    Gjenganger (14): You are quite right, I think, that you’ll get the emergence of ‘girl things’ and ‘boy things’ as a consequence of even tiny natural differences being amplified.

    Indeed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-zczJXSxnw

    If we wish to change or shape our society, which is after all the goal of all politics, it is perfectly reasonable that we might wish to change what we consider to be ‘girl things’ or ‘boy things’ so as to get more (or fewer) people involved in X,Y or Z.

    Fine, no problemo, quite agree. However, I might suggest that “we” should be rather circumspect in not allowing our dogma, our ideology, our articles of faith, to trump our science. The result tends to be things like Lysenkoism.

  33. StillGjenganger says

    @Holms 30
    This is not about physiological advantages, but about social advantages that arise from them. Both motherhood and (currently at least) the sexual courtship pattern give some positive and important aspects to the female role. A reason why ‘it is good to be a woman’, or something to bring to the table when forming a couple, if you like. Bigger muscles were important once, but contribute nothing in modern society and so do not contribute to either the value or self-worth of men. They are merely a cosmetic difference, like beards, or deeper voices.

    As for the childrens’ toys stuff, I am quite careful that both my children get toys of equal worth and similar cost, even where their interests differ. If my daughter regularly got expensive and highly desirable electronic toys, and my son rarely did, the effects on their self-worth and personality development would be clear.

    We live in a time where women’s disadvantages are systematically fought (all-women shortlists, quotas, …) and women’s specific (stereotypic) characteristics are valued while men’s are generally put down (aggression v. nurture, .. empathy versus detachment, …). Men, of course, still have the remains of former glory to advantage them. But when wee are planning for the future we should consider where we want the sexes to be once those remains have been evened out.

  34. Steersman says

    StillGjenganger (October 22, 2015 at 7:26 am; #33):

    Bigger muscles were important once, but contribute nothing in modern society and so do not contribute to either the value or self-worth of men. They are merely a cosmetic difference, like beards, or deeper voices. ….

    Don’t think that argument holds a lot of water. For evidence, all you need to do is look at the body-building magazines, and the fact that, if I’m not mistaken, most construction, forestry, fishing, and mining jobs are held by men, largely because of greater strength. “Contribute nothing”? Bit of a laugh.

  35. Holms says

    This is not about physiological advantages, but about social advantages that arise from them. Both motherhood and (currently at least) the sexual courtship pattern give some positive and important aspects to the female role. A reason why ‘it is good to be a woman’, or something to bring to the table when forming a couple, if you like. Bigger muscles were important once, but contribute nothing in modern society and so do not contribute to either the value or self-worth of men.

    You are neglecting the fact that modern times are the inheritors of previous times; that is, the benefits accumulated back when ‘might makes right’ was the rule are still being felt, if to a lesser degree. Remember that in more violent times, wealth and power went to those that killed for it: predominantly, men. Changes to this power structure have been slow, to say the least.

  36. nevilleneville says

    How about we apply some Humanism to the topic and rationally deal with the subject based on evidence and remove ideology from the matter.

  37. StillGjenganger says

    @Holms 35.
    I agree with your point. Which is why I said:
    Men, of course, still have the remains of former glory to advantage them. But when we are planning for the future we should consider where we want the sexes to be once those remains have been evened out.

  38. sonofrojblake says

    @That Guy, 9:

    Is there any need to be such a fucking asshole?

    There’s no need as such, but if it upsets you and people like you then it falls into the category of “really funny”, which is as good a reason as any.

    Is your argument that study of the humanities and arts is seen as equally masculine as STEM?

    No, it isn’t. But don’t let that stop you galloping off in the wrong direction entirely… oh, you didn’t.

    the problems for women in STEM are more numerous and more severe

    Yes, they are. Didn’t say they weren’t. My point was…

    Physics in particular has many issues with representation of women- women are largely ignored in the field, a former president of the IOP who helped discover pulsars is an example.

    You’re using as an example of a woman “ignored” someone who was president of the IoP – twice? Herschel medal winner and Fellow of the Royal Society? Eh? Saying physics in particular and STEM in general has a problem is not controversial – you’re pushing on an open door there.

    in STEM, things are worse where role models are conspicuous by their absence

    Yes. Never said it wasn’t.

    Are you going to tell me that you have not heard of the stereotype of the male yet fey artist?

    Because of stuff I was doing as a hobby, I was offered a professional acting job while in school. It was a decision point, a gateway to a career. I chose STEM. One of the reasons I chose STEM was because several people advising me pointed out that a career in the arts is difficult and unreliable at best, but that I was labouring under many, many disadvantages. And they listed those disadvantages as: not “connected”, state-educated, non-Oxbridge, working class, heterosexual, gentile. It seemed to them uncontroversial to the point of bleeding obvious that the chances of success for anyone with those attributes, regardless of talent, were vanishingly small.

    So yes, I’ve heard of the stereotype. It is, in a very real sense, part of why I am where I am today – an engineer, not any kind of artist.

    You should watch Billy Elliot and the Big Bang Theory. It’ll be an education for you.

    I’ve got an education, thanks. I don’t need to consult those fictions. But here’s a thought: take a look at the credits on those two works of fiction. Count the men. Count the women. Notice anything?

  39. StillGjenganger says

    @Steersman 34.
    The bodybuilding magazines would seem to strengthen my point. Body building competitions are no different from beauty contests. They are beauty contests.

    Your list of jobs holds true. Strength is not useless, even now. Though with manufacturing making up an ever smaller part of the economy – and ever more of it becoming automated – the importance has dwindled quite dramatically. How much comfort can your average male schoolboy take from a statement like ‘ You boys are the labourers and miners of the future!

  40. Marduk says

    #27

    Fair enough on the data point.
    I’m not sure how illustrative oil and gas in Denmark is though, that is literally dirty, physical work in some cases.
    The same thing applies in the US (New York is full of lonely women, Alaska is full of lonely men).

    You said “state bureaucracy” earlier, that isn’t quite the same thing as the public sector. In the UK for example before everything got privatised a lot of engineering and science was done in the public sector (e.g., everything in energy generation/distribution and medical scientific services, British Steel, there was even a lot of manufacturing still in public ownership). Again, this seems to me a very local conflation of issues that might not apply everywhere.

  41. StillGenganger says

    @Marduk 40
    It would need to know a lot more before I could evaluate your argument. But it is a very good point that we need look beyond our own corner of the world to make these judgements, and we might indeed be surprised by what we find. Worth keeping in mind.

  42. That Guy says

    @sonofrojblake 38

    What is your point then? Aside from rampant trolling. Is it just to upset me and my alleged allies? (BTW, what is your problem with me? Is there something so contentious about the obvious observation that society genders everything to everyone’s detriment that sets your anger gland pulsing?)

    Did you just want to point out that women generally are at a disadvantage? That’s true! nobody said it wasn’t. I’ll happily concede that even in ‘female’ spaces like fashion or cookery that men are more often than not in positions of power (coz patriarchy). I also won’t contest that class, race sex creed and other social factors also help or hinder. However, the gendered expectations of society almost certainly make life more difficult than it would otherwise be for women in ‘male’ industries.

    I’m still confused as to what your problem is. unless you just think it’s funny to pick on my poor grammar and snootily inform me that even though someone was passed over for a Nobel they’re still quite recognised.

  43. sonofrojblake says

    @That Guy, 42:

    I don’t have any problem with you. My point, if you need still need help getting it, is that I don’t agree with what you would have as “the obvious observation that society genders everything “, and in particular your apparent contention that “creative” is gendered female. Coming up with a slew of examples that comprehensively demolish that assertion didn’t take much effort.

    One of us evidences an “anger gland”, and it isn’t me. Snark doesn’t come from a place of anger, but of humour. The words “fucking asshole” sound more like the sort of thing an angry person would come up with.

    you just think it’s funny to pick on my poor grammar

    I didn’t pick on your poor grammar. I picked on the reported poor grammar of the female physicist, which in context seemed rather ironic. If you’re taking responsibility for that, well, it undermines the gag somewhat, but never mind. And I wasn’t being snooty – I genuinely don’t understand how Jocelyn Bell-Burnell is an example of women being ignored in physics, the more so because you didn’t even name her but instead referred to her as IoP president, rather than, say, “non-Nobel laureate” or similar which might have supported your point better.

    My point, such as it is, was that your formulation here is demonstrably wrong:
    “the gendered expectations of society almost certainly make life more difficult than it would otherwise be for women in ‘male’ industries.”

    And that the reality is that sexism/patriarchy in society makes life more difficult than it would otherwise be for women in *all* “industries”, the creative arts included. More pithily – there are no “female industries”. It’s always better to be a man.

  44. StillGjenganger says

    there are no “female industries”. It’s always better to be a man.

    Industries where women would feel more at home than men: Childcare, school teaching, midwifery, social services, nursing, …. Jobs where women are more sought after and higher paid: modelling, pornography, prostitution, ….In some countries the civil service is becoming increasingly female-dominated, possibly having to do with the fact that the best male layers often go into private practice with ridiculous working hours, while the best female lawyers choose the civil service. Now I do know that men tend to be overrepresented in the management layers of otherwise female professions, but it is too much to claim that in all professions it is better to be a man.

  45. That guy says

    @43

    At least now I understand what you are trying to say. And I agree- It is always better to be a man.

    However- I argue because of the lack of role models and widespread professional recognition of women in STEM that it is even more advantageous to be a man in stem.

    Your example in your first post only demonstrates that women have it bad in the creative sectors too. However- big selling female musicians like taylor swift, katy perry etc and numerous female actors all have some form of recognition.

    Contrasting this with the gender disparity in nobel winners and women professors there seems to be more of a gender bias in stem.

    If you want me to phrase it in a more palatable way- all i dustries are male- but some more so than others.

    We can look at this from another direction- let’s say i’m wrong- and say society doesn’t gender any industries or fields of study. Women have it worse across the board and in an even way. What then is the cause of poor uptake amongst women in STEM- Physics in particular- and why does this dissapear in all girls schools?

    You could say- follow the money. That women are driven out primarily of fields of study that would lead to high average income. I’d say this is potentially true for STEM in general- but if you look at the report abd associated materials in my first post – you will see they looked at physics uptake relative to biology and chemistry uptake. I am not convinced that physics leads to high earning carrers over the other two in proportion to this effect.

    Say im wrong again. Say that physics guarantees you a high eatning career- and in order to cause ‘most harm’ to women society drives them away from this field. This contradicts the earlier assumption of ‘even badness’ and creates gender disparities at high (male) and low (female) earning professions. In this respect- I think itd be fair to refer to disproportionatley male-high earning carreers as gendered ‘male’ (airline pilot- finance- stem- Med. Drs) and lower earning predominately female careers as ‘female’ (nursing- childcare – statving artist) .

    As for the rest- I called you a fucking asshole because thats how you came across. You seemed to be overly concerned with proving Someobe Wrong rather than arguing with good faith- your point was so obfuscated it took two posts to clarify. In your second post you basically confirmed this suspicion by telling us you thought it is fun to make me and people like me mad. Im still confused what you mean when you say ‘people like me’ but whatever.

    As for picking on grammar- i have a form of dyspraxia- and no spellchecker on my phone- so I dont take kindly to pulling people up on spelling or grammar unless it brings substance to an argument or is done in good humour. Bear in mind that literacy is correlated to class- too. This is incidentally why i didnt refer to J.B-B by name- as mispelling someo es name is a Grave Insult and I didnt want to fuel your fire since i wasnt really sure if you wanted to talk or just insult someone for crimes against blog comments.

    But this is the internet- and constructive conversation and mutual respect arent to be expected- so I guess really I thats on me.

    Ps apologies for spelling errors- this is a bumpy bus.

  46. Thil says

    it’s a sad truth but I’m afraid women might just lack the necessary lack of connection to humanity needed to do physics properly. My aunt use to be a secretary at Jodrell Bank Observatory. She said she use to have actively pester her bosses to take any notice at all of how the clerical side of the place was run. I just can’t see a group of women being that inconsiderate. Every second they spend caring about if there’s A4 the printer and tea bags in break room, will be science’s loss.

    More seriously I don’t buy your Zero sum game argument. I think that he women excluded from STEM and the men excluded from humanities, just don’t do academia at al. I don’t think they switch over to the other side, we’re talking about very different fields. The intelligence that makes you a good physicist may be totally different from that that makes you a good sociologist.

  47. Steersman says

    StillGjenganger (October 22, 2015 at 1:04 pm; #39):

    @Steersman 34,

    The bodybuilding magazines would seem to strengthen my point. Body building competitions are no different from beauty contests. They are beauty contests.

    And you don’t think beauty contests for women have any influence on the behaviour of women? That they aren’t part of a system (no doubt the nefarious patriarchy in action) designed to inculcate and promote certain values and behaviours? You can’t have walked through the cosmetics sections of any major, and most minor, department stores then. Sure seem to be a lot of “quislings”, “turncoats”, and victims of the Stockholm syndrome enthusiastically buying products there. Seems “beauty contests” for both sexes are rather prevalent, and promote pretty much the same thing – i.e., sexual attractiveness – even if the specific features are different.

    …. Strength is not useless, even now. …. How much comfort can your average male schoolboy take from a statement like ‘You boys are the labourers and miners of the future!’

    Thanks for conceding the point, and I’ll agree that strength isn’t as much in demand as it used to be. Reminds me of female secretary I used to work with who eventually quit, and who did, or planned to, take a course in using heavy equipment so she could operate the front-end loaders in a sawmill: strength isn’t at as much of a premium when most of it comes from hydraulics. But I expect the amount of comfort kind of depends on their interests and aptitudes. And the size of the market in their neighborhoods. Which I think is still rather significant in many areas.

  48. StillGjenganger says

    @Steersman 47
    I do not think beauty contests are designed at all. They arise is societies where people’s values support them, and in turn help to mould and maintain those values.

    The whole movement of bodybuilding, Men’s Health mags etc. has arisen (as a mainstream thing) in my lifetime. They quite obviously mimic the beauty/fashion concerns of women, and represent men getting into what used to be a female kind of activity. I suspect that the bodybuilding bodies are more a concern to the builders themselves than they are an active attraction to members of the opposite sex – but then the same probably holds for a lot of fashion.

    I see two problems with this as a replacement for the faded idea that ‘men are strong and strong men are needed’. One is that getting your self-worth and part of your social role from having other people think you are pretty is a fairly fickle and fragile thing. It is not a stable foundation to build on, and it leaves you always dependent – as various feminists have pointed out for years. It is not a victory for men that they, too, can be pretty-dolls – with sixpacks. Still, it is better than nothing. But the other problem is that the demand for attractive and pleasant women is so strong that you can to some extent rely on it. It can add up to a feeling that ‘people like me are wanted’, and it can give you the feeling (and security) in a relationship that you have something to offer. Which can be good to have when the personal relationship goes through a rocky phase. We may be getting a demand for male toyboys, now, but it will always be a niche market, for a fortunate (?) few. Not something that can make your average boy feel that ‘men are nice and people like them – it is good to be a man’.

  49. Ally Fogg says

    Thil [46]

    More seriously I don’t buy your Zero sum game argument. I think that he women excluded from STEM and the men excluded from humanities, just don’t do academia at al. I don’t think they switch over to the other side, we’re talking about very different fields. The intelligence that makes you a good physicist may be totally different from that that makes you a good sociologist.

    If we were talking about people going on to do PhDs or even BSc degrees, you might have a point. But this is about secondary schools, primarily GCSE choices or ewuivalent, which the vast majority of children will do. So it is not the case that the kids who don’t do one type of subject “just don’t do academia at all” they are in fact choosing other subjects.

  50. Steersman says

    That Guy (October 20, 2015 at 12:28 pm; #1):

    tldr version, in mixed gender schools, uptake of physics was low compared to other sciences, whereas in all-girls schools, uptake of physics was much higher ….

    While I expect there is something to the idea of the “stereotype threat” (1), I also expect that people have a tendency to make more out of it than is really justified. And while that IoP paper was a bit of interesting reading, I think it may be based on a number of questionable assumptions and inferences. For one thing, one might wonder whether the number of boys “choosing A-level physics” is substantially different from the 20% of the girls, in co-ed schools, who do so.

    And while at least some of the “two and a half times” increase in single sex schools might well be due to a reduced stereotype type threat, that too raises a number of questions: the same number of people in a smaller pot corresponds to higher percentage than if the pot is mixed in with another of the same size. For example, as in the two sets {G,G,G,g,g}, and {B,B,b,b,b,G,G,G,g,g} where the first corresponds to a single-sex school with two girls (g,g) out of the 5 going into physics (40%), and where the second set corresponds to a co-ed school with 3 boys (b,b,b) out of the total population of 10 going into physics (30%), and the same two girls (g,g) out of the 10 also going into physics (20%) – mirabile dictu!, a 2 to 1 ratio, just by changing the school population composition!

    In addition, one might suggest that education, like much else in the world, kind of relies on competition, and that allowing girls to develop in a bit of a hot-house environment – single-sex schools – may well be to their detriment, and to society’s.

    No doubt girls should have as many opportunities as boys to pursue physics as a career. But distorting the facts and figures, or putting much reliance on questionable assumptions, seems hardly scientific – or particularly wise.

    —–
    1) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotype_threat”;

  51. That Guy says

    @ Steersman 50

    the full data of the report is here
    http://www.iop.org/education/teacher/support/girls_physics/file_58196.pdf

    1) the number of boys choosing to pursue A level physics is indeed significantly different than girls.
    2) the two and a half times increase is in the likelihood of a girl going to study physics, this is not calculated from the total pool of students, but is partitioned WRT gender.
    3) I don’t see any evidence for your ‘hot house’ hypothesis. It’s also working on the assumption that boys naturally have a better aptitude for physics, which needs justification in it’s own right.
    4) It sounds like you’re clutching at straws to justify the status quo. If you are correct, what is the motivation for the IOP to pursue pseudo-science to try and increase the number of women in physics?

  52. mostlymarvelous says

    proudmra@26

    I’d be okay with a school disciplining students for disrupting the learning environment, and even reporting their actions to the parents.. .but not putting restrictions on what words students are allowed to use.

    Perhaps you’ve not had a lot to do with schoolkids. We banned a whole heap of words for students who came to our tuition service. (That was mainly to cut down on negative self-talk with kids muttering to themselves about being “too stupid” for maths or spelling or whatever.)

    Kids will say a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g in order to get at other kids. From ‘four-eyes’ and ‘carrot-top’ to racist terms embellished with obscenity. Bullying can ruin a child’s school life and it can ruin a child’s chances of success in some or all school subjects as a consequence. I was often amazed at our tuition students. A year 5 kid would finally master the 6x table one week and two weeks later loudly ridicule, openly humiliate, another student, a year 4, as stupid-dumb-thick for checking or asking or getting wrong something like 6×7. I didn’t let them get away with that stuff and I didn’t allow them to use derogatory terms when talking about people who weren’t there.

    Quite apart from the bullying side of things, schoolkids have to learn social norms somewhere. Employers who want young people to be job ready will not be in the least impressed with applicants who lack the minimal social graces needed to avoid offending other staff and-or customers. Homes and families are too diverse for us to rely on a child’s parents to teach them this stuff. School is the right place to start.

  53. Lucy says

    “But when wee are planning for the future we should consider where we want the sexes to be once those remains have been evened out.”

    Okay, let’s take a raincheck in 30,999 years.

  54. Lucy says

    “Industries where women would feel more at home than men: Childcare, school teaching, midwifery, social services, nursing, …. Jobs where women are more sought after and higher paid: modelling, pornography, prostitution, ….”

    A) prostitution isn’t a job, or a profession. Any more than selling your kidneys or corneas is. It’s an oppression.
    B) women don’t earn more than men in pornography. The camera men, agents, distributors, boards and CEOs of the 5 main pornography companies earn the money, billions of it. Beside a tiny handful of “stars”, the churning camera fodder earn a pittance.
    C). It’s a fairly novel take on prostituion and pornography to consider it an advantage to be more sought after.

  55. Lucy says

    StillGjenganger

    “Industries where women would feel more at home than men:
    Childcare,
    Primary school teaching,
    midwifery,
    social services,
    nursing,
    Cooking
    Cleaning
    Dry cleaning
    Administration for the better paid
    Lingerie counter in M&S (though annoyingly, not always)

    Jobs where women are more sought after and higher paid:
    modelling,
    Modelling whilst stripping
    pornography,
    prostitution, ….
    Stripping
    Dancing for money
    whilst stripping
    Surrogacy
    Baby farming
    Hair donation
    Egg donation

    Jobs where women are sought but lower paid:
    GP
    Therapist
    Kidney donation
    Repetitive tasks on production lines
    Farming
    Journalists in women’s sections

    Jobs where men are sought and higher paid:
    Childcare management
    Primary school Head teacher, celebrity head
    Secondary school teaching
    University teaching, celebrity professor
    Social services policy control and management
    Chef, Michelin chef, celebrity chef
    Cleaning supervisor
    Dry cleaning chain manager, owner
    Chief executive officer, celebrity CEO
    King of M&S
    Modelling agent, designer, director, celebrity designer
    Pornography empire owner
    Pimp, celebrity pimp
    Strip club manager, owner, celebrity strip club owner
    Trafficker
    Infertility clinic chain owner
    Practise manager, Surgeon, consultant, celebrity consultant
    Psychiatrist, celebrity psychiatrist
    Trafficker again
    Factory owner
    Plantation owner
    Editor, celebrity editor
    Everything else

    —–
    “In some countries the civil service is becoming increasingly female-dominated”

    Which ones?

    Dominated in what way? In the ‘being-in-charge and paid more than men’ way?

    —-

  56. WineE.M. says

    Ally, hate to say this, but this article is just really dire! 🙂 What gets me above all is the sheer hypocrisy of the establishment (il)liberal left in wanting to promote and maintain their own sexist beliefs and language, but at the same time to constrain and police the capacity of freedom of self-expression of young children. I mean, don’t worry, such commentators will quite happily continue to make crass generalisations about such a heterogenous group as ‘white men’ on Twitter, and to expound their sexist and racist theories about such people, but hell, don’t ever let primary school children start playfully mimicking the language of cowboy films in the playground, because then the state backed thought police will descend in the blink of an eye!

    And then, just imagine that the boot was on the other foot, and that some conservative right-wing government came up with guidelines that children would no longer be allowed to talk about ‘white male privilege’ or anything which might be suggestive of patriarchy theory in the playground. I mean, ok, put to the side the fact that most kids don’t generally speak in this way (whilst also bearing in mind that the supposed use of language envisaged by this report’s authors is often incredibly far-fetched and artificial), but just the sheer principle that children would not have the potential to voice the prejudices and discriminatory ideas held by the ‘progressive’ commetariat would cause the Owen Joneses and the Helen Lewesis of this world to start shrieking from the rooftops about the politicisation of kids’ education, and how intolerable it is to try and mould the political outlook and views of children at that stage. That is surely not a happy position to be in, to say that these kind of prescriptions and guidelines are fine, as long as they match your own instincts and preferences, but no-one else’s.

    Also, it might be pointed out that language is really quite a powerful and versatile thing, so how far would you actually want to take this? You may start with a few central expressions which offend your socially progressive sensibilities, but since there are hundreds of thousands of phrases in the English language which imply some kind of values or prejudice about gender, this list will have to be continually added to and expanded, until you have an encyclopedic reference of all those phrases and idioms which are supposedly forbidden. All in all, it’s just absurd.

  57. WineE.M. says

    Added to that, you’re slowly but surely turning into a male, Scottish version of Polly Toynbee in your old age, Ally, it really is that bad ! 🙂

  58. Marduk says

    WineE.M.

    Read the report. There is no hypocrisy at all.

    You’ve gone off half-cocked mate, you won’t see the things you want if you keep attacking those who actually give them to you.

  59. WineEM says

    No hypocrisy in supposed liberals championing completely illiberal measures? (Not the report’s authors, but their cheerleaders here and elsewhere). Well, think we’ll just have to agree to differ on that. There’s nothing to be gained in artificially restricting the freedom of expression of primary school children in this way (beyond the extent that it is constrained by common social expectations already), and frankly to impose these kinds of social and political beliefs on kids of this age is pretty sinister. Let them use the expressions ‘sissies’, ‘cupcake’ or ‘man up’ if they want to. It won’t kill anyone, it might even prepare them for life later on when they will encounter a whole variety of colourful language and ideas. Again, if you start banning these kinds of things, you’ll have to keep on restricting the use of more and more phrases and idioms because they turn out to have politically undesirable connotations. It simply shouldn’t be the business of government to decide what freedom of thought and language should be in such detail (and it’s especially ironic when many of those who are apparently so keen on this project vehemently guard their own right to express sexist language and concepts as and when it suits).

  60. sonofrojblake says

    the freedom of expression of primary school children …is constrained by common social expectations

    Rather the point here is to encourage a change in those common social expectations. We’ve come a long way in making it a common social expectation that people shouldn’t be racist.

    Let them use the expressions ‘sissies’, ‘cupcake’ or ‘man up’ if they want to

    Run that sentence through your mind again, but substitute the words ‘nigger’, ‘kike’ or ‘play the white man’. Still happy to suggest it’s fine to allow kids to speak this way? Obviously not.

    Creeping restriction on what’s acceptable speech is RIGHT. It shows progress towards a kinder, more considerate, more inclusive civilisation. And don’t worry about the language – it’s a living thing, and it will adapt, innit?

  61. That Guy says

    @ 61 WineEM

    I’m sure suicide statistics disagree.

    Also, doesn’t this lead to the notion that the most foul hate-speech should be permitted in schools, because one day someone might see a youtube video of the westbro baptist church?

  62. Marduk says

    #61

    You’re being trolled by The Telegraph, this is another “loony council bans Christmas” thing. Seriously, “squads” of teenage girls? I don’t think so. Its somewhere between the Junior Anti-Sex League and The Worm That Turned.

    I agree with you that there is a dangerous tide of iliberal thought at the moment. Indeed, I think I referred to it as a silent crisis that nobody will name as politics (capital and small “p”) has descended into arguing about what needs to get banned next. There is nobody standing up for the liberty of the individual or society and the “media’s leading liberal voice” has turned into some sort of headquarters for rampant authoritarianism. You couldn’t make it up.

    All that said, I see nothing wrong in schools requiring good manners from kids. I had hoped that was what they were doing already.

  63. WineE.M. says

    @62, 63

    Flippin’ heck, expressions like ‘cupcake’ and ‘a bit wet’ are analogous | to ‘nigger’, and ‘kike’, I’ve really heard everything now.
    This whole way of thinking is in truth a bit wet – now how offensive is that? Put that in your pipe and smoke it! (Oh no, perhaps I’m somehow suggesting something gendered and demeaning about the use of pipes. 🙂 What would Madame Bovary have to say about that kind of shit!
    Quote:
    “a change in those common social expectations” Yes, well I think this is what I’m getting at. Social expectations to do with verbal expression have built up over centuries, and I think we’ve reached a balance now where we don’t want to drain all the colour and grit out of language, but extremes of prejudicial and discriminatory terminology are forbidden. I think that works quite well. Better that than kids should only be allowed to speak according to the Nicky Morgan/Polly Toynbee/Ally Fogg rulebook of right-on and purer than pure ‘Newspeak.’

  64. WineE.M. says

    @64 Yes, funnily enough Marduk, I think we’re basically agreed then about this whole strain of heavy-handed illiberalism in our culture (which often goes under the radar in the guise of ‘progressive values’.) I suppose a lot will depend, as you suggest, in exactly how it is implemented (the gangs of girls thing does sound especially bizarre). Yet I have to say, from what details have been disclosed, that so far I really don’t like what I hear.

  65. StillGjenganger says

    @Lucy

    1) Think substantial equality would take 39 999 year? With the magnitude and momentum of change, I think it could just about happen in my lifetime. Which is why those of us who do not want the pendulum to swing all the way over to a female-dominated society ought to start thinking about what point you want it to stop at.

    2) It is always better have choices. Yes, you may have to be pretty desperate to choose prostitution over the alternatives. But if you are that desperate, you are better off having the option than not having it.
    Besides, being sought after is not only matter of porn and prostitution. The idea that someone might be more likely to put up with sharing a life with you just because you are willing to shag is not great place to be. But it is a lot better than a well-supported opinion that no one would put up with you at all;, except out of Christian charity. Better to be wanted in bed than not to be wanted at all.

    3) Yes, men tend to get more of the managing jobs, even in otherwise female fields (I said as much, above). It is harder to say how much of that is due to discrimination, how much is men taking advantage of the lifelong training in assertion and competition for status that is built into male culture, and how much is that you average woman is less convinced that the gain in money and status is worth the extra hours you have to put in. But that is a separate problem, it does not negate the fact that large job areas are mainly female at most levels. Whatever some powerful feminists say, there is more to life than management, and most people of either sex do not become highly paid leaders of anything.

  66. sonofrojblake says

    WineE.M., 65:

    Social expectations to do with verbal expression have built up over centuries, and I think we’ve reached a balance now…

    Excellent! 😀 Language acceptably and inevitably evolved and changed over centuries until it reached, some short time ago, its apotheosis at the point you personally were comfortable with it, and now that change HAS TO STOP. I always wondered whose picture that was in the dictionary under “reactionary”.

  67. StillGjenganger says

    @sonofrojblake 68
    I am very disappointed. I had always hoped that it would be my picture in that dictionary ;-).

    With you permission, WineE.M?

    There is a difference between changed attitudes causing a change in language, and a cultural elite forcing a change in language, in the hope of forcing a change in attitudes (a well-established tactic of progressive reformers). ‘Nigger’ and ‘kike’ are commonly accepted as profoundly offensive, and were always profoundly offensive to the targets. ‘Sissy’ and ‘man up’, are fairly innocuous, and are not deeply offending any group, except maybe highly educated people trained to dislike the political implications. At most they are references to slightly outdated attitudes. You can certainly discourage ‘sissy’, just like you can discourage ‘shithead’. But treating either concept as if it were as bad as ‘nigger’ it way over the top.

  68. WineE.M says

    @69 Yes thanks, Gjenganger, I’ll freely admit you’re a far more knowledgeable and better educated person than I am, and I certainly couldn’t have put it any better than that.

  69. StillGjenganger says

    @WineE.M 70
    Thanks for the compliment – not sure I deserve it. I did go to university. You learn many things there, but definitely you learn to sound confident, however much or little you happen to know.
    Anyway, let’s keep debating.

  70. sonofrojblake says

    ‘Sissy’ and ‘man up’, are fairly innocuous

    That’s very easy to say if you’ve never heard them shouted at you while you’re on the ground being kicked. Privilege, much?

  71. StillGjenganger says

    @Sonofrojblake 72
    If you are on the ground being kicked, you will surely feel bad whatever the word. Are they worse than ‘snitch’, or ‘shithead’?

  72. says

    Now, would anyone like to mount a case for the defence?

    Sure. (You probably meant that rhetorically, but anyway…)

    Let’s do a thought experiment. For the purposes of the thought experiment we need to assume two facts:

    1) There are a few/some/many children that fail to exhibit behaviours that are considered important. For example: having confidence in their own abilities and not running to the teacher for help every time they face the slightest challenge; or having the social assertiveness to stand up for their own opinion and not just succumb to peer pressure.

    2) By far the most efficient and effective way to get little boys to learn to adopt those behaviours is to appeal to their sense of gender identity, i.e. their drive to replicate the adults they see as being of the same gender. The use of the phrase “man up” directed at a child who is failing to exhibit those behaviours would an example of this. Note, this assumption isn’t that all or even most cases where the phrase may be popularly used will have the beneficial effect, merely that if used intelligently it can have the beneficial effect.

    If the following assumptions are made does the behavioural benefit to individual boys outweigh the social cost of reinforcing gendered expectations? If yes, is there sufficient objective evidence to contradict the above assumptions to an extent that can justify a one-size-fits-all override to what would otherwise be the subjective assessment of individual teachers on the best approach for each individual student with whom they are directly dealing?

  73. That Guy says

    @77 desipis

    your point 2 is lacking evidence. Also, has unforeseen side effects where the properties you want to instill in ‘problem boys’ become gendered. I.e. confidence, independence and assertiveness become ‘male’ traits.

    this incurs an additional cost when girls pick up on this, and jettison those characteristics as being not suited to them, not being men or boys.

  74. Dark Jaguar says

    While I haven’t seen these particular examples (at least from teachers), I can say I still see the “boys and girls split up for this project” as an easy way to divide the class for certain activities. That’s probably got to come to a stop.

  75. Marduk says

    #75
    What I mean is really, they are mostly talking about things teachers should and shouldn’t do or say for the most part and things they might comment on if they hear. Its a bit disappointing if PE teachers are still yelling abuse at schoolboys like they used to. Much of this report you’d hope is actually a bit redundant now. Of course teachers shouldn’t calling boys sissies or telling them to “man up”.

    But that said, I don’t think that teachers even in my day had a relaxed attitude to people calling each other cunts and so on but somehow we managed. Point is we knew it was wrong but did it anyway…but we knew it was wrong. The Orwellian angle on this is a bit over-blown.

  76. Marduk says

    #56

    Its kind of funny you profess (a lot) to disliking men but reading your list, at heart you’re like any other read of supermarket romance novel reader. The only men who exist for you are celebrities and ‘swinging dick’ alpha males!

    It is always:
    “Ravished by a Rake”, “Seduced by a Surgeon”, “Romanced by a Billionaire”
    It is never:
    “Ravished by a Plumber’s Mate”, “Seduced by a Dry Cleaner” or “Romanced by a Benefits Claimant”

    Why is that?

  77. Holms says

    #77 desipis
    Note, this assumption isn’t that all or even most cases where the phrase may be popularly used will have the beneficial effect, merely that if used intelligently it can have the beneficial effect.

    That’s a hell of an ‘if’!

    If the following assumptions are made does the behavioural benefit to individual boys outweigh the social cost of reinforcing gendered expectations?

    Seems unlikely, unless by ‘used intelligently’ earlier you meant ‘used in a manner such that the behavioural benefit to individual boys outweigh[s] the social cost of reinforcing gendered expectations,’ in which case the answer is indeed yes by definition. Which is not very useful.

    If yes, is there sufficient objective evidence to contradict the above assumptions to an extent that can justify a one-size-fits-all override to what would otherwise be the subjective assessment of individual teachers on the best approach for each individual student with whom they are directly dealing?

    You have it the wrong way around; you should instead be asking ‘is there sufficient evidence to consider my assumptions valid? And I think the answer is ‘no.’

    #80
    This report also appears to be about discouraging students from using such language amongst themselves, not just the teachers.

  78. says

    That Guy:

    your point 2 is lacking evidence.

    Holms:

    You have it the wrong way around; you should instead be asking ‘is there sufficient evidence to consider my assumptions valid?

    My assumptions (particularly #2) were based on the fact the bans would require the fact that appealing to boys’ sense of gender identity has had the power of causing boys to adopt values and beliefs about themselves we feel are negative. I don’t see any reason to assume that this process can cause boys to only adopt negative values and beliefs and not adopt positive ones. I don’t think assumption #1 is particularly contentious.

    Also, has unforeseen side effects where the properties you want to instill in ‘problem boys’ become gendered. I.e. confidence, independence and assertiveness become ‘male’ traits.

    I think having educators vacate the field, by not guiding boys to adopt positive traits as elements of their gender, leaves the boys vulnerable to having the negative messages in the media and broader society being the dominate source of influence over what they adopt as the important traits of their gender. Given that I would also support a similar approach for girls and their sense of gender, I don’t think the approach necessarily carries the risk that such values become to be exclusively male.

  79. Ally Fogg says

    desipis

    First, apologies for delay in responding to you, have been offline most of this week.

    Some reasons why I think you are wrong.

    First, the terms in the screengrab above are not a definitive and exhaustive list of sexist words and phrases that must be banned. They are *examples* of the whole range of sexist language which the IoP report suggests should not be used or encouraged in schools. So it’s not really the point to pick out one example of this (“man up”) and concoct hypothetical scenarios where it might have beneficial effects, that doesn’t actually answer the point. I was asking if anyone wanted to mount a defence that it is fine for kids and teachers to use sexist language in schools.

    That said, you are also wrong in your hypothetical scenario, for several reasons.

    First, as That Guy correcly notes (78) using ‘man up’ in the way you suggest does most certainly have a gendered corollary, which is that self-confidence or assertiveness or whatever are being defined as specifically male traits, which has the effect of telling both girls and boys that self-confidence and assertiveness are not entirely appropriate for girls and women. That is inescapably, overtly sexist and harmful.

    Secondly, phrases like ‘man up’ are incredibly damaging to boys who (for whatever reasons) cannot simply become more self-confident or assertive or whatever. Those traits cannot always be turned on like a switch. So what you are doing is telling those boys that they are failing some kind of gender test, that if they are struggling emotionally and personally then they are failing as men. There is plenty of serious clinical evidence and testimony that this kind of thinking is really harmful to men’s mental health and is a significant contributor to phenomena like men’s disengagement from health and support services, over-reliance on drinking and drugs as self-medication, and ultimately male suicide rates.

  80. johngreg says

    Yay!

    More word police and word policing.

    Wherever would we be without it.

    Throw out the dictionaries!

    Burn all the books!!

    … lest some kiddiez read ’em and say unpleasant things that melt a few special snowflakes.

  81. Holms says

    #83 desipis
    My assumptions (particularly #2) were based on the fact the bans would require the fact that appealing to boys’ sense of gender identity has had the power of causing boys to adopt values and beliefs about themselves we feel are negative.

    Wrong. The assumption is that linking certain traits to gender (e.g. bravery is for men, compassion is for women) is damaging, for reasons mentioned by Ally and That Guy. Thus, your appraisal of these guidelines is actually the reverse of what it being attempted; they are not ‘influence students positively by using gender / personality trait associations’ at all, but rather ‘influence students positively by discouraging all gender / trait associations entirely.’

    ___

    #85 johngreg
    More word police and word policing.

    Throw out the dictionaries!
    Burn all the books!!
    … lest some kiddiez read ’em and say unpleasant things that melt a few special snowflakes.

    This is entirely inaccurate hyperbole. Student-student and teacher-student interactions that use gendered language are being discouraged; no book burnings, no dictionary revision.

  82. johngreg says

    Holms said:

    This is entirely inaccurate hyperbole. Student-student and teacher-student interactions that use gendered language are being discouraged; no book burnings, no dictionary revision.

    HAHAHAHA. Like all good SJWs before you, you utterly fail at comprehending the many and various uses of creative language, including such hoary old regulars as analogy, sarcasm, metaphoric comparison, allegorical expression, etc., et al.

    Viva l’Orwellians!

    As per usual, what is overlooked in this happy dance to limit language is that it is not the words, it is the context and the usage that counts. And to control context and usage requires education, discussion, practical demonstration, etc., not word policing, thought control, and shaming of kids for creative use of language — however unpleasant that creative use of language may be to some panty twisters and special snowflakes.

    As an example, you know why really young kids take such gleeful healthy pleasure in swearing so much, especially in inapproriate places? Because the panty twist intellectually moribund adults around them freak out so much about the dirtynastyevil words, and spend so much emotional energy policing them.

    But, as I say: Viva l’Orwellians!

  83. says

    Ally Fogg:

    using ‘man up’ in the way you suggest does most certainly have a gendered corollary, which is that self-confidence or assertiveness or whatever are being defined as specifically male traits, which has the effect of telling both girls and boys that self-confidence and assertiveness are not entirely appropriate for girls and women. That is inescapably, overtly sexist and harmful.

    I’m not claiming that such a presumption is unreasonable, but do you have any evidence to suggest that the described effect is inescapable (i.e. that linking something good to masculinity unavoidably causes it to be disconnected from femininity in the minds of children)?

  84. Holms says

    HAHAHAHA. Like all good SJWs before you, you utterly fail at comprehending the many and various uses of creative language, including such hoary old regulars as analogy, sarcasm, metaphoric comparison, allegorical expression, etc., et al.

    All you’ve done here is list a number of literary devices that you did not use. The one you did use was hyperbole.

  85. johngreg says

    Holms, you are an intellectual god; a god of the intellect; a god of purity; a pure god.

    I bow down to your perspicaciousness, oh scholarly chap (or chappess, as the case may be — who the fuck knows).

    Hosanna; hosanna; hosanna; hosannas all around, oh lordly chap.

  86. Holms says

    I suppose that comment was to correct any reader that may have mistaken you for a sincere contributor to this conversation.

  87. johngreg says

    That’s right, Holms. Because I make fun of some of your sillier statements, nothing whatsoever I have said elsewhere in this conversation is meant seriously, or honestly, or sincerely.

    /rolls eyes

    I gotta say, the black and white world of absolutes and fear you live in, the very Room 101-ishness of it all, seems to me to be a deeply dark, sad, and dreadful place. I really do prefer the freedom of expression, diversity, nuance, and the multivarious greys of the real world.

  88. Holms says

    That’s right, Holms. Because I make fun of some of your sillier statements, nothing whatsoever I have said elsewhere in this conversation is meant seriously, or honestly, or sincerely.

    But you’ve said almost nothing in this thread; you started with hyperbole (book burnings), and since then you have simply been sneering at being called on that. Oh, and adding more hyperbole to the pile; the rest of your #92 being exemplary this.

  89. johngreg says

    Holms, I said, well, using creative language I explicitly implied all that I felt I needed to say, which is that I think policing words is naive, misguided, wrong, and ultimately ineffective.

    If you choose to overlook that because you prefer to scold me over my style, so be it. Have at it, you intellectual pudding cup, you.

  90. Holms says

    So we’re agreed then: your writing style consists primarily of hyperbole, at least in this thread.

  91. johngreg says

    Ack, how foolish of me. I see now that I missed the obvious. Holms, you are a Dictionary Hyperbolist. How déclasé of you.

    Holms, did you not know that Dictionary Hyperbolists have been rendered obsolete and irrelevant? The current correct-thought is Hyperbolist Plus. As such, it includes the additional characteristics of irony, sarcasm, sardonicism, and so on and so forth.

    Personally, I prefer to identify as H++g or Hyperbolist Doubleplusgood. That means that hyperboly is whatever I define it to be whenever I define it to be such, and such a definition is always good, always right, and always the only definition there is — depending on my mood, the time of day, which way the wind is blowing, and whether we’re at war with Oceania, Eurasia, or Eastasia because we’ve always been at war with Oceania, Eurasia, or Eastasia, of course.

  92. Holms says

    ^ Exactly the non-engagement you are known for, well done. Oh and where would you be without yet more Orwell references, wow.

  93. johngreg says

    Where would we all be without references to Orwell and 1984. Probably cowering en masse in Room 101. Such references are all too often all too apropos in conversations of socio-political issues.

    Holms, I engage when I choose to, and when my engagement gets derailed and shifted into defending against Pit hate, Pit misrepresentations (and misrepresentations, distortions, and derails of my own words), and so on, which it usually does by folks like yourself, I then disengage because there is no further point. As soon you, and so many others like you, decide to start scolding and condemning those with whom you disagree, the conversation is over because you simply cannot dialogue. You are constitutionally incapable of dialoguing with people with whom you disagree.

  94. Holms says

    There is a difference between merely replying to something, and engaging with what has actually been said. You specialise in the former, which makes the majority of your posts mere noise. Leaping to the defense of the pit when no one has mentioned it all thread is a classic example.

  95. johngreg says

    Holms said:

    There is a difference between merely replying to something, and engaging with what has actually been said.

    Yes, I think that could be seen as plausibly true. Nonetheless, I often fully engage, or at least try to engage, with commenters in topic threads here, and at other FTB blogs. But, more often than not, my engagement gets sidetracked by the raging hostilities of anti-Pit people attacking like slithery slow lampreys, regardless of what I actually say, just for the sheer pleasure and projected empowerment of stating their ragey anti-Pit stance.

    In the case of this topic, however, I felt that my thoughts on the matter were such that full engagement was unnecessary, and that my brief comment was suffucient to the task. You can disagree with that all you want; doesn’t make you right … or wrong. I know, I know, that’s a concept you don’t quite understand.

    Holms, I have not leaped, slithered, or slymed, to the defense of the Pit in this comment thread.

    And for the last couple of years, pretty much the only time I can be seen “leaping to the defense of the pit”, is when someone tries to derail the comment thread by bringing up the Pit with the intent to slag it and its members.

    You just can’t let go, can you, Holms. Like I said, You are constitutionally incapable of dialoguing with people with whom you disagree, especially the One True Shaitan: Pit People!

    Lions and tigers and bears! Oh My!

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