I loved Stephanie’s post for a number of reasons, including and mainly for it’s clear statement about why rules are more tempting (to create) than is good for us. At the same time, I would say that when I read PhysioProf’s “Tips” (which everyone takes as rules though he never seems to have actually called them rules) I find myself seeing some important truth in them.
When I walk away from a conversation with PhysioProf, I often feel like his main goal was to silence me, to take away my voice. I feel badly for people like Deatkin, whose voice was also threatened by PhysioProf for no really good reason. PhysioProf the Dementor, sucking people’s voices out of their mouths. I like that. He can use that. Anyway, PhysioProf is the embodyment of the ad hominem attack, contrary to his expressed views to the contrary. I feel he has tried to take my voice on those few occasions because he has prejudged me to be an evil (racist) misogynist. Or something.
It has been made clear that PhysioProf himself is a privileged male trying to not act like a privileged male by using his privilege to step in and help the ladies out with what he perhaps feels they are unable to conceptualize or express.
Which makes me laugh. A lot. So much it hurts.
But if PhysioProf does some good with these antics, then, well, some good has been done. Damage to the credibility to the “Don’t read my blog unless you take my course first” sect notwithstanding.
It appears that many people feel that a political statement is not potent unless it does social damage, even collateral damage, that it is rude, that it is over the top. I don’t happen to think that this is true. I also don’t like inflicting pain unnecessarily or drowning kittens or squishing spiders. This is probably just a weakness in my character.
I also come away from these discussions with the distinct impression that this is not about feminism or breaking down barriers that women differentially encounter in the sciences or even about policing everyone else’s thoughts. Rather, it’s about power. It’s about owning the air-space into which we speak, about controlling voice.
I come away from these conversations about careers thinking … “where were these dweebs thirty years ago …. these senior scientists who should be learning how to act, how to treat each other … is it really the case that senior males in the hard core sciences, medical research, etc. are still acting this way????” And of course the answer is yes. Are the hard core sciences that far behind the social sciences? Apparently. (No, it is not as though I’ve not been aware… I’m just in constant awe at the medievalness of it all.)
Oh, and this: As an educator, I find the style expressed in CPP’s writing, and the rule-based blogs that require shutup-ness above all else to be a less than ideal way to advance. At the same time I totally get the annoyance with the naive or the not-so-naive but obnoxious anti-feminist commenters. There isn’t an easy answer to this dilemma. Anyone who tells you what the easy answer is may be brilliant, or may be a fool.
I suppose it is good that there are different kinds of blogs. And different kinds of fools.