Pile On

Join Zuska and her commenters in a pile on regarding the Smithsonian Magazine’s recent article on the archaeology of southern Africa.

It’s racist, it’s sexist, and it’s even anti-Neanderthal. (The article, not Zuska’s post)

Regarding the writing about the use of stone tool technology in the article:

It says, “could be women – but no one really knows, do they? The safe bet is on men.” It’s the equivalent of saying “the PC police are always watching, so we’d better pretend like there is an actual possibility that we are including women in this discussion, even though we know we’re talking about Man, i.e. men, not women.”

HERE

Comments

  1. #1 Onkel Bob
    June 27, 2008

    I don’t comment over there and I rarely read it. My point of view is, if you are attempting to convince, convert, or correct someone to your point of view, do you imagine that being hostile and quarrelsome is going to be a successful strategy?

    I’m as snide and sarcastic as they come, but even I recognize that endless complaints do nothing. They do not win over your opponent and constantly regurgitating your bile only leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Eventually even your “friends” won’t want to be around you and you’ll lead a very lonely life.

  2. #2 Charlie
    June 27, 2008

    There’s a difference between complaining here and a valid point. Having done an English Literature course I was taught how to interpret language like that down to the pronouns and in this case it was quite obvious the ‘she’ was tacked on as an afterthought. Greg’s points in the comments are also very valid.

    ‘Eventually even your “friends” won’t want to be around you and you’ll lead a very lonely life.’

    Oh wow. How childish.

  3. #3 Ian
    June 27, 2008

    By all means, Onkel Bob, avoid like the plague those PoVs which make you feel even a smidgeon uncomfortable. Let’s just be comfy and cozy instead.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    June 27, 2008

    Bob: You have a very valid point. In my view, one may decide to take the agfgressive and obnoxious approach. It will have a strong effect and there is probably a place for it. But if you do this, and you get pissed on, no whining.

    Charlie: Good point. This is why there is a correlation between education level and liberalism and other good things. On the other hand, the world is full of people using but otherwise ignoring language, and this inspection of language is kind of new as a phenomenon. Sure, the Sophists did this sort of thing, but they all had to drink hemlock because they were so damn annoying. The practitioners of linguistic critique often have important contributions but rarely have social skills, in my experience. With some very notable exceptions, of course.

  5. #5 Onkel Bob
    June 27, 2008

    As an veteran in all aspects of the word, I know a thing or two about effective communications. How you couch the complaints is as important as what you have to say. It’s not enough to be right, it’s as important to be listened to and to be understood. When I assumed a command staff position, the training was ingrained that one must listen to understand, not to refute.
    Unfortunately some make the mistake of constantly finding fault or never learning how to communicate bad information. Instead of being heard, they are ignored. Their peers who would support them, tend to avoid joining in on the argument and when confronted by superiors habitually say “oh it’s not that bad.” Of course, the situation I’m thinking of was that bad, however, these troops didn’t want to be associated with the complainer. So we had a situation, but the “boy who cried wolf” was a poor “canary in the coal mine.”
    Btw – the frau is a researcher at a prestigious university. She constantly complains about the members of her department and their publication record versus teaching load. (She has more than a few Development papers, the others haven’t published a word in 4 years, yet still she teaches more than anyone else.) When she asks my advice, I simply tell her not to back the chair into a corner, always make it seem as the solution was her idea (the chair is a woman) and regardless of the outcome, at least appear to be satisfied or understanding of the situation. Academic science is a lose – lose proposition these days, and unless you want to be part of the coming diaspora, it’s better to be quietly unsatisfied. (8% funded in basic sciences.)
    Keep in mind this place is corrupt from day one: the chair is the wife of the dean, the department has the wife of the university president, the wife of a Nobel winner (at an adjoining University) in a tenured positions, another tenured yahoo, and a golden child. None of these people produce anything of value and only one has an R01. The frau is a legacy, hired by a different department that was even more corrupt; she moved from the frying pan into the fire. Life’s tough and then you die. The adage should be “may be going to hell in a bucket, but at least I’m enjoying the ride,” but she has difficulty seeing that point of view.
    Me, I moved over from computer engineering to Art History and Geography. (I wanted to put all those years living abroad and visiting diverse places to use) I have encountered more – more refutation, more affirmation, more new experiences of my life’s perspective – in one typical day than my detractors will encounter in their lifetime. Not boasting, simply describing the facts of the matter. That said, I’m all too familiar with literary criticism and post modernist thought (it’s a fad in Art History and Cultural Geographers dabble in it too.) The argument that resonates with me on the topic is that you will learn more about person talking (or writing) about the subject than you will about the subject itself. The Derrida school of ghost hunting reveals what the people want to find, not what they have found.