Why I Am Not Polite

Occasionally one of my (usually male) readers will take me to task for what he considers to be my unwarranted angry – dare I say, strident? – tone of voice. Can I not be more polite? More reasonable? Would I not catch more flies with honey? Only speak sweet reason, dear crazy bitch Zuska, they plead, and we will assuredly attend to the substance of your message. But not while you rant and rave so. No indeed. That can only turn us off.
Well, as someone I knew once said, I don’t want to catch flies. I want to kill them.
I told the story of the origins of the “Puke On His Shoes” phrase which gives one set of reasons why I am not polite.
Another reason, as I have mentioned before, is that I speak on behalf of women who feel silenced, who are not able to speak the rage within their hearts because of the careers they must protect. Today I received an email from a new reader that speaks eloquently to this. My reader gave me permission to share the email; I have changed only a few identifying details.

I just found your blog today, and thank you so much for all your anger with the hostile men in science who get in our way. I fought my way to a Ph.D. in [a biomedical field] (graduated in [sometime in last 5 years]) after switching labs and filing a sexual harassment complaint against my former advisor. My university actually found in my favor, that my advisor was guilty of quid pro quo sexual harassment, but then apparently decided that no disciplinary action was necessary because nothing happened. About a year later, my former advisor moved on and got a job as chair of a department at another institution. I had to switch labs and endure significant delays in my research progress along with everything that that means for a CV.
I am so angry too! Especially because I am convinced that this asshat harassed other women in my department and also because I know of several other powerful male faculty at that medical school who sexually harass women. Nobody speaks out about it except for hushed whispers in the graduate student lounge. I generally don’t speak out about it either because when I do I look like a trouble maker or like someone who has “career problems” and everyone in academia avoids such people like the plague.
I have now moved on to another school and I’m having success as a postdoc, but I’m still so angry. Thank you for being a voice of anger for women who feel unable to speak out for themselves.

Just in case you weren’t sure, quid pro quo sexual harassment is “when a job benefit is directly tied to an employee submitting to unwelcome sexual advances“.
I regret that for the sake of my reader’s career, I cannot direct you to the new place of employment of her former advisor/harasser so that you may puke heartily upon his shoes. So I just ask that you all send cosmic karma puke vibes out into the universe meant generally for him. And I curse him, as I curse every sexual harrasser, in the following manner:
May all his grants go unfunded; may all his research experiments fail; may all his postdocs flee for other labs; may his colleagues depose him from department chair and shun him at faculty meetings and make his life on campus living hell; may the dean take a hearty dislike unto him; may his wife wake up one day and realize he is a total asshat and declare that she is leaving him; may his children refuse to visit him at holiday time; may he find his car dented and scratched in the faculty parking lot, with a flat tire; may he suffer horribly from a foul, foul rash visible upon his face but also afflicting his most private parts; may his dog bite him when he returns home at the end of a long day; may students in all his classes be bored, disruptive, inattentive, and rude (more than usual); may he attend professional meetings and find that no one wishes to hobnob with him; may he be assigned to all the worst committees on campus and asked to be notekeeper of every one; may he never find parking again in the faculty lot and be forced to creative parking solutions; and then may Campus Police ticket him freely and often; may his evil behavior become widely known through the campus gossip grapevine, so that women students, staff, and faculty may keep a wide berth from him; may he die miserable, without further promotion, alone and unloved, in a public messy humiliating accident which causes much painful suffering before he finally kicks off. Amen.

  1. December 4, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    Go Zuska! You just keep speaking truth to power. Well-behaved women not only rarely make history, they put up with a lot more shit.

  2. December 5, 2006 at 12:27 am

    Yes yes yes! Especially the part about his getting tickets from Campus Police! I know some men who would hate that the most, but only because they wouldn’t notice the other things (well, OK, maybe the rash and the flat tires would register too).

  3. December 5, 2006 at 9:04 am

    As usual… right on!!!

  4. Duke
    December 5, 2006 at 9:41 am

    And I think you are an arrogant bitch! Does that make me impolite?

  5. December 5, 2006 at 9:58 am

    Sure, reason is great for convincing reasonable people. But I suspect that quite often those who need to be convinced the most will simply ignore you if you’re not a little red-faced and white-knuckled.

  6. Bert Russell
    December 5, 2006 at 10:06 am

    Sounds more like someone’s attempt to justify her boorish behavior to me.
    If you really want to change someone’s idiot opinions, you realize it helps to speak to them civilly.
    If you really simply angry, only want to air your knowledge, don’t really care whether the other person changes his or her mind, and think of other people in abstract rather than empathetic terms, then you simply scream.
    Cheers.

  7. Bert Russell
    December 5, 2006 at 10:11 am

    OK, I should say that I do agree that sexual harrassers ought to be treated bluntly and loudly.
    I just don’t think the tone is effective when trying to educate, say, a creationist or an ID adherant.

  8. December 5, 2006 at 10:18 am

    I submit to you that your rage does little more than the following:
    -Allow you to vent your spleen
    -To preach to the choir (fellow abused females).
    It does nothing to change the environment against which you struggle.

  9. December 5, 2006 at 10:18 am

    See, men find it so much easier to be impolite! They jump right in there with the insults, even if they have (largely mis)read only one post and have little clue what your blog is about.
    Please, Zuska, write a book called How To Be Rude, and put some of these guys’ comments on the back jacket.

  10. December 5, 2006 at 11:03 am

    catch more flies with honey
    Never understood that phrase. If it’s flies you’re after, dogshit is your best bet.
    If you really want to change someone’s idiot opinions, you realize it helps to speak to them civilly.
    Spoken like someone who has never actually had to deal with an unreasonable person — or like an unreasonable person who has found a useful strategy for obstruction. How far would Zuska get with you, I wonder, by being polite and accomodating? By the time she had moderated all her expression to your taste, she’d find she was no longer arguing for equality.

  11. Ric
    December 5, 2006 at 11:18 am

    Yes, it makes sense to me. Politeness will only get you ignored.

  12. Renali
    December 5, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    “See, [boys] find it so much easier to be impolite! They jump right in there with the insults, even if they have (largely mis)read only one post and have little clue what your blog is about. ”
    Bingo. Though, I expect they will vehemently deny it. Being a hypocrite is a-ok when you’ve got those extra little dangly bits between your thighs.
    But behaving exactly as they do sans the extra dangly bits and you’re an “arrogant bitch”.
    Typical misogyny. *snore*

  13. thorn
    December 5, 2006 at 12:39 pm

    bert russell, the topic of this post was not id or creationism. it was the (apparently) endemic problem of faculty with power assuming that the way to avoid having to pay for sex, is to populate the lab with female grad students. this should not be the price we as grad students pay for the ‘privilege’ of contributing to humanity’s collective scientific knowledge.
    and no one is trying to *convince* anyone not to *think* this is ok behavior. it’s illegal. we don’t give a rat’s bottom what the perpetrators/perpetuators of this behavior *think*, and more than they care what *we* think. we want them to f-ing knock it off and treat us like colleagues.
    it’s not too hard, really. here’s a simple procedure. just ask the question: “self, would i be [hitting on this grad student – unbuckling my pants as i come around the lab bench – groping my assistant – stuffing this candidate for tenure into the trunk of my car with the intention of doing icky things to her body that she would rather i didn’t do – telling post-doc nymphette that she was accepted to the program because the entire department got off on the idea of seeing her in waders] if she were a big huge potentially violent homophobic guy?”
    if the answer is “no,” then *f-ing knock it off.* easy. and if you don’t knock it off, don’t be surprised if the recipient of your attention starts acting like a big huge *actually* violent homophobic guy.

  14. thorn
    December 5, 2006 at 12:39 pm

    bert russell, the topic of this post was not id or creationism. it was the (apparently) endemic problem of faculty with power assuming that the way to avoid having to pay for sex, is to populate the lab with female grad students. this should not be the price we as grad students pay for the ‘privilege’ of contributing to humanity’s collective scientific knowledge.
    and no one is trying to *convince* anyone not to *think* this is ok behavior. it’s illegal. we don’t give a rat’s bottom what the perpetrators/perpetuators of this behavior *think*, and more than they care what *we* think. we want them to f-ing knock it off and treat us like colleagues.
    it’s not too hard, really. here’s a simple procedure. just ask the question: “self, would i be [hitting on this grad student – unbuckling my pants as i come around the lab bench – groping my assistant – stuffing this candidate for tenure into the trunk of my car with the intention of doing icky things to her body that she would rather i didn’t do – telling post-doc nymphette that she was accepted to the program because the entire department got off on the idea of seeing her in waders] if she were a big huge potentially violent homophobic guy?”
    if the answer is “no,” then *f-ing knock it off.* easy. and if you don’t knock it off, don’t be surprised if the recipient of your attention starts acting like a big huge *actually* violent homophobic guy.

  15. December 5, 2006 at 1:12 pm

    And the award for first of the Males Who Feel Totally Threatened Just Because I Write About Women’s Anger to speak up and expose his distress goes to…..Duke! Yay! Let’s all give Duke a round of applause!
    And the award for Males Who Really Want To Help Me By Pointing Out That I Am Just Venting My Spleen And This Will Do Nothing For The Cause And So Therefore I Should Be Polite And Stop Distressing Them With My Anger goes to… tie between Bert Russell and Hoody!
    This latter approach does seem to be a popular one among many of my male commenters. Here’s the recipe, just vary the details and customize to suit self:
    1. You are a ranting/venting/angry bitch.
    2. Your anger will not help/is misplaced/will turn off those you are trying to reach.
    3. However, if you were polite, people would pay attention to you.
    4. You should either be polite or shut up because we do not like to hear angry women speak.
    Okay, that #4 is usually only implied, but I thought, what the hell, why not make it explicit?
    Now, in the future, my commenters can save time and wear and tear on their fingers/wrists, keyboards by just cutting and pasting the four items above whenever they find themselves annoyed and threatened by my writing.

  16. Bert Russell
    December 5, 2006 at 1:12 pm

    I will confess that I didn’t read the post carefully enough before posting. That was idiotic of me.
    But just for the record: I do tire of rude behavior whether it’s coming from men or women. Despite any “dangly bits.” If anything I’m usually painfully polite.
    The fact that I put both feet in my mouth here does present a delicious irony, though, that’s for sure.
    My sincere apologies to the host.

  17. Bert Russell
    December 5, 2006 at 1:19 pm

    I will say that gender has nothing at all to do with my opinion, so some of the posters above are displaying their own knee-jerk reactions.
    If anything I quite like to hear some righteous anger coming from a woman. And a guy who sexually harasses deserves a kick in the balls, plus a mouthful of venom.
    I admit I made some assumptions about the post since I was coming from Pharyngula, which were inaccurate. I was an idiot. I apologize.
    And I also think that I get a good laugh when I hear someone like Richard Dawkins OR Eugenie Scott facing off against the ill-prepared in a discussion about evolution vs ID. I’m not humorless, and I realize that sometimes the urge to mock is irresistible. My only (clearly misplaced) point was that you don’t make any converts if all you resort to is ridicule and venom.
    Zuska may quite agree with that. The fact that I don’t know either way reveals problem with my initial hasty post.
    Not doing the name of Bert Russell much good am I? (Though rword is that he was a bit of a misogynist anyway.)
    I’ll make it a point to camp out here a little longer and try to get to know Zuska a lot better before commenting further. Cheers.

  18. Helen
    December 5, 2006 at 1:23 pm

    I hit “Woohoo!” after reading only the headline.
    I see by the comments we’re having another round of the moron olympics.

  19. Vitis01
    December 5, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    1. You are a ranting/venting/angry bitch.
    2. Your anger MAY OR MAY NOT turn off those you are trying to reach.
    3. However, if you were polite, people would probably just blow you off anyway.
    3.5 Fuck those people.
    4. You should continue being outraged by a situation that clearly warrants it. (Not that you need anybodies permission.)
    5. I will enjoy the opportunity to be mockingly polite as I explain to folks that Zuska is right and they are asshats.

  20. December 5, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    men tut-tutting women to “change their tone” or to “not be so angry fill me with rage. I’m a man myself. I know what a-holes men can be to women, especially in situations where there’s a power imbalance or the male holds some other advantage over the female. and it makes me want to puke. so if someone wants to growl and rant about it, GO TO TOWN. If a visitor don’t like it, don’t come back. Pretty easy huh?
    I don’t hear a lot of people telling the Rude Pundit to “mellow out” or “stop talking about Ann Coulter’s adam’s apple”. Cuz he’s a
    he maybe?
    Vitis01: Bravo. here here. second.

  21. Dan
    December 5, 2006 at 2:16 pm

    In my not even remotely humble opinion, politeness is overrated. Anyone who refuses to do something simply because the person who asked them to do it wasn’t sufficiently nice to them is a preening, self-obsessed dipshit. And especially where sexual harassment is concerned, politeness makes you seem more like a victim, not less like one.
    Bert, I think you’re falling into the trap of assuming that most people are reasonable. They’re not. Most people are barely sentient troglodytes, staying alive only through the early-childhood rote memorization of various death-avoidance strategies. It’s usually far more effective to appeal to someone’s sense of shame by yelling at them that it is to appeal to their intellect, which may or may not even be functioning properly, by reasoning with them. Being able to kick some ass if it becomes necessary doesn’t hurt, either.

  22. Mike Haubrich
    December 5, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    As a male, I say make the prospect of someone harrassing you as unpleasant as possible. In fact, make it so unpleasant that they will think 4x before doing it to anybody else. And if they still do it after the 4th thought, then they deserve physical punishment as a gentle reminder.
    Not that you need my permission.

  23. Mike Haubrich
    December 5, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    As a male, I say make the prospect of someone harrassing you as unpleasant as possible. In fact, make it so unpleasant that they will think 4x before doing it to anybody else. And if they still do it after the 4th thought, then they deserve physical punishment as a gentle reminder.
    Not that you need my permission.

  24. Swintah
    December 5, 2006 at 4:58 pm

    I love this post! Thank you! A bitch unrepentant is a fine thing, and a vocal one is a rare gem. I look forward to future posts.
    Your new reader,
    Swintah

  25. December 5, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    I will add my voice to the overwhelming chorus of ‘do what you want and damn anyone who complains’. That’s the beauty of the internet. If they don’t like it they can get their own blog and write their own thoughts the way they want. Of course, you’ll have the readers 🙂

  26. Will Von Wizzlepig
    December 5, 2006 at 6:17 pm

    This makes me think of a particular misbehaver I dated once.
    It took me a while to understand her behavior- she simply made no attempt to hide when she did not like someone. I was baffled, as I usually avoid confrontation.
    Years later, after having her come to mind from time to time, I put together what I call the five-percent rule: for whatever reason, you will hate five percent of the people you meet.
    How you handle the rule is the point of creating the rule- not only the people you hate, but the people who inexplicably hate you. You can simply not tolerate your 5% at the cost of social grace, or tolerate them completely at your own internal cost, or some sort of middle-ground solution.
    I don’t mean to make a point, it’s just fun to think about stuff like this.

  27. December 5, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    Let me just go on record as saying that it is refreshing to me, in coming to this blog for the first time, to read a post such as this. I say we need more angry and impassioned people. An argument that is passionate is not the less rational because of it and we may express ourselves with great force of conviction and not slide into childish tantrums. It is especially necessary, I think, for all of those who face systematic discrimination to continually resist it and not engage in a meek, ‘if only I play nice they’ll leave me be’ rear-guard action. I do not often quote Nietzsche but I think a few lines from The Genealogy of Morals might be appropriate:
    ‘Why stroke the hypersensitive ears of our modern weaklings? Why yield even a single step�to the Tartuffery of words? For us psychologists that would involve a Tartuffery of action…For a psychologist today shows his good taste (others may say his integrity) in this, if in anything, that he resists the shamefully moralized manner of speaking which makes all modern judgments about men and things slimy.’
    At any rate, I give the post, the blog, and our scribe a huzzah. You’ve won a new reader,
    J.

  28. December 5, 2006 at 7:05 pm

    I used to care about tone, until I realized it had nothing to do with substance. If your argument has real substance, you can write with various levels of rage, depending on your style preference. If it doesn’t, you have to be shrill to attract readers (hence, Firedoglake).
    What irks me about concern trolling is that there’s a good way and a bad way to do it. A good way involves giving evidence that the writer is wrong, or that the rage is misplaced, or that shrillness hurts the cause. So far I haven’t seen any such evidence for any of the three when it comes to this blog and others like it.
    Screaming is not an offense. It’s at worst an aggravating factor, once the basic offense of being wrong has been proven.

  29. 85bugz
    December 6, 2006 at 12:11 am

    I dunno. I’m female and have an M.S. in the sciences. Pretty much the only discriminatory incident I experienced was after I had my degree. It related to the department members’ total lack of consideration with respect to the passing of my mother. The incident occurred in 1994.
    The incident caused me to leave for-pay work in science.
    I have never considered myself a ‘feminist,’ although I admire the guts of the early women scientists.
    =======================================================
    “I don’t want to catch flies. I want to kill them.”
    Pyrethroids do a good job, until resistance sets in.

  30. 85bugz
    December 6, 2006 at 12:11 am

    I dunno. I’m female and have an M.S. in the sciences. Pretty much the only discriminatory incident I experienced was after I had my degree. It related to the department members’ total lack of consideration with respect to the passing of my mother. The incident occurred in 1994.
    The incident caused me to leave for-pay work in science.
    I have never considered myself a ‘feminist,’ although I admire the guts of the early women scientists.
    =======================================================
    “I don’t want to catch flies. I want to kill them.”
    Pyrethroids do a good job, until resistance sets in.

  31. December 6, 2006 at 6:29 am

    I thought the ritual prayer, or whatever, at the end (“May all his grants go unfunded”, etc.) was funny and clever. I have no general opinion about Zuska at all, having just come to this from another blog. But just from this one sample, I think some of you guys criticising her ought to lighten up. Get a sense of humour.

  32. JW Tan
    December 6, 2006 at 11:26 am

    You need to be nice when you want things from people. If you’re not, you don’t. Bear in mind that you may want things from people in the future, even if you don’t want anything now.
    The question is, how badly do you want these things?
    For some reason few people ever understand this simple fact.

  33. SharonC
    December 6, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    JW Tan: You need to be nice when you want things from people. If you’re not, you don’t. Bear in mind that you may want things from people in the future, even if you don’t want anything now.
    Your advice doesn’t go very far. In some situations, niceness helps you to achieve what you wouldn’t get if you were rude. But we’re not talking about those people who respond to niceness. We’re talking about those people (always men, in my experience) who IGNORE niceness and you can ONLY get through to them when you cross the boundary over to rudeness.
    Suppose it’s not you that wants something from another person, but the other person that wants something from you. Like Zuska’s “Puke On His Shoes” story. You advocate niceness, but no matter how nice you are, that doesn’t get them to listen to what you’re saying. They don’t HEAR nice. But the moment you threaten to puke on their shoes, or you shout at them, or you shut the door in their face, or exhibit some other form of rudeness, then OH! ALL OF A SUDDEN THEY CAN HEAR YOU.
    And at the moment, I suspect you’re not listening, JW Tan. You’re so busy being offended and being all “Ooo Zuska’s getting all strident, she should be sweeter and nicer”, that you CAN’T HEAR WHAT SHE’S SAYING.
    So, in case all my BOLD CAPITALIZATION hasn’t come over as sufficiently rude or shrill to get your attention, here’s one final shot at getting your attention.
    JW Tan, how DARE you try and pin Zuska, and other women, into that heads-I-win tails-you-lose situation that demands that either 1. we play nice and get ignored or 2. we play not-so-nice and then get our wrists slapped for being rude. Oh so convenient to put women in that position, isn’t it? You can just sit there and IGNORE US, or you get to complain that we are being strident (see your comment for an example) and thus you dodge the issue and once again you IGNORE US. Either way, you DON’T LISTEN TO US! HOW CONVENIENT! YOU DON’T HAVE TO LISTEN TO THE VOICES OF WOMEN!
    How DARE you say that we can’t shout or be shrill to let ourselves be heard! Sometimes, it’s our only option.

  34. SharonC
    December 6, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    JW Tan: You need to be nice when you want things from people. If you’re not, you don’t. Bear in mind that you may want things from people in the future, even if you don’t want anything now.
    Your advice doesn’t go very far. In some situations, niceness helps you to achieve what you wouldn’t get if you were rude. But we’re not talking about those people who respond to niceness. We’re talking about those people (always men, in my experience) who IGNORE niceness and you can ONLY get through to them when you cross the boundary over to rudeness.
    Suppose it’s not you that wants something from another person, but the other person that wants something from you. Like Zuska’s “Puke On His Shoes” story. You advocate niceness, but no matter how nice you are, that doesn’t get them to listen to what you’re saying. They don’t HEAR nice. But the moment you threaten to puke on their shoes, or you shout at them, or you shut the door in their face, or exhibit some other form of rudeness, then OH! ALL OF A SUDDEN THEY CAN HEAR YOU.
    And at the moment, I suspect you’re not listening, JW Tan. You’re so busy being offended and being all “Ooo Zuska’s getting all strident, she should be sweeter and nicer”, that you CAN’T HEAR WHAT SHE’S SAYING.
    So, in case all my BOLD CAPITALIZATION hasn’t come over as sufficiently rude or shrill to get your attention, here’s one final shot at getting your attention.
    JW Tan, how DARE you try and pin Zuska, and other women, into that heads-I-win tails-you-lose situation that demands that either 1. we play nice and get ignored or 2. we play not-so-nice and then get our wrists slapped for being rude. Oh so convenient to put women in that position, isn’t it? You can just sit there and IGNORE US, or you get to complain that we are being strident (see your comment for an example) and thus you dodge the issue and once again you IGNORE US. Either way, you DON’T LISTEN TO US! HOW CONVENIENT! YOU DON’T HAVE TO LISTEN TO THE VOICES OF WOMEN!
    How DARE you say that we can’t shout or be shrill to let ourselves be heard! Sometimes, it’s our only option.

  35. December 6, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    Excellent post. Blaze away with righteous indignation, Zuska. I look forward to reading more.

  36. December 6, 2006 at 11:20 pm

    I don’t care if you have tentacles or stacks of index cards or a vending machine between your legs. Yelling only gets you friends. It doesn’t hurt your enemies. I couldn’t trust those I had to yell into action. History depicts too many of them as dangerous idiots, regardless of race or sex or age.
    Your assumedly tongue-in-cheek curse is beyond the pale. What are you peddling here? You CAN’T kill the flies. The metaphor doesn’t even work that way. Or you can, but that’s usually considered illegal, and this definitely won’t do it.
    I don’t like “righteous indignation” from anyone. Far worse to me is when it’s defended as the best or only course of action.
    Being impolite or indignant has never got me anywhere. It’s isolated me, it’s lost me credibility and potential friends, and it’s certainly never been the product of a clear mind. But what do I know? I’m a guy.
    I recognize the irony that I’m not being a barrel of love or kisses either, but I suppose I don’t expect to convince anyone of anything. Just mindlessly getting my thoughts out. Got to leave a Google trail whereever I go. Cheers.

  37. December 7, 2006 at 12:02 am

    I was an idiot. I apologize. […] I’ll make it a point to camp out here a little longer and try to get to know Zuska a lot better before commenting further.
    Now see, that’s how it’s done. Kudos, BR.
    And in my turn, I apologize for the snark I directed at you. I look forward to hearing more from you.

  38. December 7, 2006 at 7:32 pm

    Zuska wrote, “Here’s the recipe, just vary the details and customize to suit self…”
    As you say, there is a recipe. Mine was actually inspired by an earlier post here and its flurry of comments.
    Behold: The Universal Feminist Blog Comment Template (ver. 1.0)

  39. Lamia
    December 7, 2006 at 10:38 pm

    Asgromo: exactly. What do you know about having to tolerate people who ignore you and talk over you and dismiss your opinions or very speech just because you are female? That’s bullying. And believe me, “Please don’t make fun of me.” doesn’t work when a sharp pop to the kneecaps does. Have you ever been subjected to a looming over until you were backed into a corner? Possibly not, as males actually have some semblance of danger sense with other males. So you can just button up about the travails you have suffered for being a male asshole.

  40. JW Tan
    December 8, 2006 at 6:38 am

    SharonC said:

    But we’re not talking about those people who respond to niceness. We’re talking about those people (always men, in my experience) who IGNORE niceness and you can ONLY get through to them when you cross the boundary over to rudeness.

    This is about the only portion of your post which makes any sense.
    For the record, I am not offended by whatever Zuska says. Why should I? She didn’t say it to me, although if she did say it to me and wanted something from me, I’d probably say no (unless I wanted something from her, which would be a different kettle of fish).
    All I’m saying is that it’s easy to be abrasive and offensive if you don’t care about the consequences. Otherwise, a bit more thought seems in order.

    JW Tan, how DARE you try and pin Zuska, and other women, into that heads-I-win tails-you-lose situation that demands that either 1. we play nice and get ignored or 2. we play not-so-nice and then get our wrists slapped for being rude. Oh so convenient to put women in that position, isn’t it? You can just sit there and IGNORE US, or you get to complain that we are being strident (see your comment for an example) and thus you dodge the issue and once again you IGNORE US. Either way, you DON’T LISTEN TO US! HOW CONVENIENT! YOU DON’T HAVE TO LISTEN TO THE VOICES OF WOMEN!
    How DARE you say that we can’t shout or be shrill to let ourselves be heard! Sometimes, it’s our only option.

    Women can do whatever they want. I listen to what people say, not who says it or how they say it. I do base my reactions on how people say things, however. Oh, and all options have consequences. There’s also no such thing as an only option. You have the option to not be heard. You choose.

  41. JW Tan
    December 8, 2006 at 6:38 am

    SharonC said:

    But we’re not talking about those people who respond to niceness. We’re talking about those people (always men, in my experience) who IGNORE niceness and you can ONLY get through to them when you cross the boundary over to rudeness.

    This is about the only portion of your post which makes any sense.
    For the record, I am not offended by whatever Zuska says. Why should I? She didn’t say it to me, although if she did say it to me and wanted something from me, I’d probably say no (unless I wanted something from her, which would be a different kettle of fish).
    All I’m saying is that it’s easy to be abrasive and offensive if you don’t care about the consequences. Otherwise, a bit more thought seems in order.

    JW Tan, how DARE you try and pin Zuska, and other women, into that heads-I-win tails-you-lose situation that demands that either 1. we play nice and get ignored or 2. we play not-so-nice and then get our wrists slapped for being rude. Oh so convenient to put women in that position, isn’t it? You can just sit there and IGNORE US, or you get to complain that we are being strident (see your comment for an example) and thus you dodge the issue and once again you IGNORE US. Either way, you DON’T LISTEN TO US! HOW CONVENIENT! YOU DON’T HAVE TO LISTEN TO THE VOICES OF WOMEN!
    How DARE you say that we can’t shout or be shrill to let ourselves be heard! Sometimes, it’s our only option.

    Women can do whatever they want. I listen to what people say, not who says it or how they say it. I do base my reactions on how people say things, however. Oh, and all options have consequences. There’s also no such thing as an only option. You have the option to not be heard. You choose.

  42. Kristin
    December 8, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    JW Tan, please spare us your condescension. Women already know that they *always* have the option not to be heard in our culture–not being heard has historically been the default option, you know.
    Women understand that of course we’re supposed to behave civilly and politely. That is how we are socialized, by and large–be nice, don’t complain. If you are a reasonable person who respects what a woman has to say when she says it, then she won’t have to be rude to you. And it still takes a lot of undoing of all that socialization for her to will herself not to be polite.
    The problem is that there are still plenty of men who discount what a woman says because they can’t see her as another person who has intelligence and independent thoughts. Those are the people who deserve the rudeness.
    It’s very simple: treat women the way you would want to be treated, and they won’t be rude to you. If you are a jerk to women, then you deserve to be treated in kind. This is what Zuska is saying. Why is this so threatening?

  43. December 8, 2006 at 4:12 pm

    I listen to what people say, not who says it or how they say it.
    If you believe this you’re deluding yourself.

  44. January 9, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    “I submit to you that your rage does little more than the following:
    -Allow you to vent your spleen
    -To preach to the choir (fellow abused females).
    It does nothing to change the environment against which you struggle.”
    I submit to you that it can actually work quite well.
    Granted, the context matters. But that’s been my experience.
    Oddly enough, it’s also my experience that while I hear this argument about all kinds of things, I hear it more often when the angry person is female, gay, working class, black, etc. It’s also my experience that this is when (well-directed) rage is most likely to be successful.
    “You need to be nice when you want things from people.”
    Ahem – tell that to the unions. Or the suffragettes. Or civil rights protesters. “Nice” and “lacking in rage” is not the same as “not being a crazy bully.”

  45. July 19, 2008 at 8:25 am

    Since this was linked to through a comment on Feministe’s guest post by Physioprof (the John Tierney Title IX mashup,) I run the risk of reviving an old thread. But this post is still relevant and important, given the dustup over a frackin’ cracker.
    The problem is very much real, and I see it in society at learge; the concern that people who have a point to make about a dual-standard approach to a societal approach think that if one is in the right on an issue one should politely and patiently explain why.
    To me, such an approach of always being polite invites a patronizing pat on the head. “Yes, I see your concern. Thank you. Now we have some real work to do, so let’s move on.” And that seems to be what happened in the case that Zuska here excerpted. The complainant followed through the channels of filing a complaint. She did it the right way, the polite way and the administration said, “Why, yes, you are correct. He behaved abominably. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. Next!”
    So, back to PZ. People from the atheist side decry his tactics and methods because he occasionally pukes on people’s shoes. While it may be satisfying to occasionally “fart in the general direction” of Bill Donohue, it realy doesn’t get any traction when pointing out how shrill and nasty Donohue was because of his claim that Webster is some sort of terrorist for taking a host. A plan to illustrate the point with some real consecrated hosts has been met with consternation from atheists who think that only a conciliatory approach to the nuttiness of Donoue should be used aroused such a round of “tut-tuts” from the reasoned few that I was ashamed at how quick they were to back down from Donohue and attack one of their own.
    PZ puked on some shoes. It’s gotta be done sometimes. The polite and reasoned approach sometimes works, but there is ample evidence that it only works with people all ready willing to listen and act.

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