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The Invisibles
April 16, 2010 8:57 AM   Subscribe

"This is a story about a different thing. Something I call Man to Man (M2M)" This blog entry describes the events of a clay pigeon shooting outing as experienced by young woman of color. She muses about whether she should have removed her invisibility cloak and called out the M2M business at play.
posted by la_scribbler (127 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I submit there is an equivalent amount of W2W in the world.
posted by chavenet at 9:06 AM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


this is shocking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by Mach5 at 9:08 AM on April 16, 2010


Hypothetical situation: You are a representative of a business, and it is your job to interact with customers. You see two potential customers together. What criteria do you use to determine which one to address first? Alternatively, how do you address them both simultaneously without coming across as awkward and/or indecisive?
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:09 AM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


It most definitely played some part. I am sure he thought I was Asian. An Asian-American not an Asian immigrant and I’m certain he did not think I was black.

Not sure how she is certain the kid thought she was Asian if he didn't speak to her at all.
posted by sanko at 9:13 AM on April 16, 2010


I (male) was in a car crash in Georgia with my girlfriend a few months ago, and experienced this for the first time. She was driving, she owned the car, I was just a passenger. Every inquiry was directed toward me, even several times after I'd explicity made clear that I wasn't the one who they should be talking to.

From the comments: to not address a female in order to avoid disrespecting the male accompanying her, has its basis in the presumed proprietary rights of males over females.

Why does critical reflection on gender so often inspire such prolix prose?
posted by phrontist at 9:13 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I submit there is an equivalent amount of W2W in the world.

Yeah, sure, maybe when shopping for drapes or bridal gowns or whatever. We're not aiming for parity.
posted by phrontist at 9:14 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gee, I wonder if the kid assumed that she was along for the ride but not really into it, and so focused on the person who was more likely to be into clay pigeon shooting. If so, she's not exactly exploding that stereotype, here.

Comments like this, too, aren't doing much to make me respect her opinion on sexism:

This strapping young 17 year old thing was a nice enough fellow with the pleasant demeanor usually associated with much less attractive high school boys.
posted by gurple at 9:15 AM on April 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Faint of Butt: You've never talked to two people at once? It's not hard - you just divide your attention equally between them.

As a white, upper-middle-class male, I love playing this game. When I'm out to dinner as the only man with one or more women in attendance, and get asked "how is everything?" or "would you like more water?" I like to pay attention to who is getting asked and who is asking. Usually, if the server is male, I'm the one getting asked. Then, I'll answer. More often than not, my answer is enough to get the server to react appropriately. If the server is female, generally, there's a subsequent confirmation from everyone else, even if I was the one getting asked. It's hilarious, and I think totally subconscious on the part of the servers.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 9:15 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


You are a representative of a business, and it is your job to interact with customers. You see two potential customers together. What criteria do you use to determine which one to address first? Alternatively, how do you address them both simultaneously without coming across as awkward and/or indecisive?

Simply ask, if not in so many words, "which of you wants to primarily handle this transaction?"?
posted by phrontist at 9:15 AM on April 16, 2010


I think one cause of M2M is the weird territorial hostility some guys get if you try to talk to a woman they accompany.
posted by idiopath at 9:15 AM on April 16, 2010 [23 favorites]


When I go shopping with female friends, depending on the item, I become invisible, as well. People optimize for rewards. More often, you can control who gets talked to by putting one person in front of, and slightly covering, the other. Try it. It's entertaining.

I really like the bit where she completely validates nice guy syndrome. "Hey, you're not attractive. Guess you'll have to try harder!"

Also, article significantly less erotic than expected.
posted by adipocere at 9:17 AM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the comments are enlightening. I hadn't thought of the "Men don't want to be seen as coming on to a woman they perceive is in a relationship" angle.

That said, I've been in a ton of these situations. My favorite thing to do now is to give the salesperson/man inquisitor a few chances, then when it's obvious that he should be addressing not just me but also the woman I am next to, I go triangle stare.

Triangle stare creation is just me turning to face the woman I'm with. Where her and me were both watching the guy talk, when it's obvious he should have been talking to her all this time and her reaction and/or analysis of the situation is what is paramount, I do the appropriate thing and turn to look at her. At that point we have a triangle stare - he's looking at me, I'm looking at her, she's looking at him while he talks.

I have pretty good peripheral vision, so I get a kick out of watching a guy continue to talk at someone who is clearly directing their attention elsewhere, while a person who is looking right at you, you're ignoring. I can recall a couple of situations where it was a good 10-20 seconds of triangle stare before dude got the hint.

Even that "coming on" thing is kind of sketchy though. If you're addressing two people and go back and forth, nobody's going to think you're coming on to them. But then, you do have some dudes who want to be that guy who is the "head of household" and derive some sense of self-worth from being appointed the household decision maker on all things. So all-in-all it's kind of a bunch of mixed signals it seems. Still can be annoying though.
posted by cashman at 9:18 AM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


yeah this is kinda useless because the blogpost is covered in text ads for pornsites that somehow overflowed their boxes.

well, useless for its intended purpose
posted by grobstein at 9:20 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of how, on the occasions that I've been with a woman at a store counter or restaurant and she paid for something for both of us, at least 50% of the time they hand the change to me. The funny thing is that it's not just guys who do this -- women would cut each other out of the equation, too. OK, in a restaurant, I can understand handing the check to the guy, but hand the change to the person who actually paid! A couple of times, the perpetrator seemed to catch themselves mid-transaction and hesitate. In such cases, I was merciful and just took the change off their hands. But in other cases, I developed the habit of standing there, doing nothing to accept it, turning to look pointedly at my companion.

When you throw in race, there are almost too many variables to figure out exactly what's going on. My ex-girlfriend was very black, and she was routinely ignored in such situations, but she was also very shy and unassertive. My wife is "of color" but more beige-ish, and she's also a lot more extroverted, and it doesn't seem to happen as much (but it still happens). It feels weird to describe the precise hue of women I've dated/married, but I'm trying to extrapolate some patterns here...
posted by Edgewise at 9:21 AM on April 16, 2010


"I was a baby about it for several reasons: I am not a fan of hunter/gun culture. I associate it with the Tea Party. I assume that accidents will definitely happen and they will happen to me. Unfortunately I did not much enjoy the shooting..."


Isn't it possible that the instructor-kid was able to sense this awkwardness and that was what set the tone of the interaction rather than some deeply ingrained racial/gender imbalance?
posted by greasy_skillet at 9:21 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I talk to people from left to right, just like I read.
posted by sciurus at 9:22 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


In terms of pure amoral pragmatism: better a woman sulk at feeling ignored, than a man get uppity because you are infringing on his "territory". The safe bet is just to ignore women accompanied by men.

The stakes of the decision have to change before the habit will change, and I really wish I could think of a solution other than someone having to get hostile and visibly pissed off that the woman is being ignored.
posted by idiopath at 9:24 AM on April 16, 2010


I go clay pigeon shooting with my man friend. The white, working class, 17 year old lad whose job it is to show us the ropes, speaks only to the (white) man friend, never speaking to me.

So you hate shooting, show up cringing and jump every time you hear a gunshot, bring a negative attitude about the politics and character of everyone else at the shooting range and display it outwardly, and then expect people to want to interact with you? I hope you have a warranty for that entitlement complex because it sucks.

I also realize only now that I felt some power over him because of our age difference and so did not feel threatened.

Oh lord, someone isn't talking to me! He's probably going to beat my ass or sexually harass me or something!

Bottom line: Don't show up somewhere making a big stinking deal out of your low expectations and special snowflake personality and people will be a whole lot more interested in you. The blogger is a myopic hypocrite and I could write better prose with a ballpoint clutched in my rectum.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:25 AM on April 16, 2010 [29 favorites]


Faint of Butt: You've never talked to two people at once? It's not hard - you just divide your attention equally between them.

That's advanced interpersonal communication, as far as I'm concerned. Others may find it easier.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:25 AM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


And what role did race play in my invisibility? It most definitely played some part. I am sure he thought I was Asian. An Asian-American not an Asian immigrant and I’m certain he did not think I was black. How different would his interaction with me have been depending on how he perceived my ethnicity?

Hmm... I was going to ask how she knew that But she does look very Asian
posted by delmoi at 9:28 AM on April 16, 2010


Why does critical reflection on gender so often inspire such prolix prose?

Because it is likely that the person writing is trying not to piss off ~49% of the readers while trying not to play to the other ~49%.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 9:29 AM on April 16, 2010


I really like the bit where she completely validates nice guy syndrome. "Hey, you're not attractive. Guess you'll have to try harder!" -- adipocere
What do you mean by "Nice guy syndrome" here? I think it has a couple different meanings.

Anyway, what's the deal with people complaining about women preferring attractive guys? I think it's kind of hilarious, like people are outraged, or at least annoyed to find out that women prefer good-looking dudes. Like what what would you expect?

I assume that's what you're talking about. But actually I have no idea. Your statement is actually very ambiguous.
yeah this is kinda useless because the blogpost is covered in text ads for pornsites that somehow overflowed their boxes. -- grobstein
I normally surf with adblock on, but I just looked at the page in Chrome, and I didn't see any ads at all. Anyway adblock is awesome. Ads don't bother me mostly, but just having them gone is like sunshine. It's not something you notice all the time, but it's always there, making your life just a little bit better.
So you hate shooting, show up cringing and jump every time you hear a gunshot, bring a negative attitude about the politics and character of everyone else at the shooting range and display it outwardly, and then expect people to want to interact with you? I hope you have a warranty for that entitlement complex because it sucks.
What are you talking about? Nothing in hear article indicates she had a "negative attitude". Maybe it wasn't something she was interested in but that doesn't mean she was giving off bad vibes or something.

But something else to think about. This girl seems pretty attractive. And we're talking about a 17 year old boy here. Maybe he was just intimidated by her looks? It definitely happens.
posted by delmoi at 9:44 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe he didn't talk to her because she was so thirsty.
posted by digsrus at 9:49 AM on April 16, 2010


Thanks for the post. This happens all the time. My wife tells me so. I believe her, because I have from time-to-time found myself doing it without thinking. My favorite (horribly embarrassing) example:

It's 1994. I have this big job interview at a big university. I sit nervously in the lobby and wait to be called in to see the boss, whom I only know as "Professor So-And-So." We've never met. The secretary (young, female) gets the call and says "Professor So-And-So will see you now." She escorts me to the office door. It opens and, to my surprise, there are two people: a gentleman in a tweed jacket and a smartly dressed youngish woman. I really want the job, so I take the initiative like they tell you to in the "How to Get A Job" books. I turn to the tweedy fellow, stick out my hand and say "Hello Professor So-And-So, very nice to meet you. I'm Such-And-Such."

Oops.
posted by MarshallPoe at 9:52 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nothing in hear article indicates she had a "negative attitude".

Other than her explicit indication of her dislike of "gun culture" and fear of guns.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:55 AM on April 16, 2010


I think I can explain this, or at least offer one possible explanation. It's not an apologia, nor does it make the behavior any less (hetero)sexist, but maybe it'll make it less of a mystery.

Gun clubs tend to be really polite places. I'm sure there are exceptions, somewhere, but every rifle/pistol/shotgun range I've ever been to — and I've been to quite a few — is like the man equivalent of a DAR tea-and-cakes reception. There are lots of rules. Some of those rules are posted on big signs, the basic gun-safety stuff, particular range rules, etc., while some of them are unwritten.

There's a pretty big unwritten rule, operative in many parts of the U.S., that, if you are a guy, particularly a single guy, you do not go striking up conversation with "another man's woman." You can test this (if you are a guy) pretty easily, and it doesn't need to be at a gun range — look for a couple, and wait until the guy turns his back or walks a few feet away. Walk up to the woman and make polite conversation. It's almost guaranteed that the guy will be at her side in an aggressive/protective posture (back erect, chest out, hands unpocketed) before you get five or ten words out of your mouth.

There are exceptions; if there's an obvious reason, it's less threatening. If you (the walk-up guy) are obviously part of a couple yourself, it's less threatening.

It also works the other way; a single woman walking up and batting her eyes at a guy who's there with a woman will get the same sort of aggressive response in a lot of contexts. (Although, IMO, the response is a little different; it's not as obviously physically aggressive/challenging.)

In most circumstances, you can pretty safely ignore this rule; so what if you ruffle the possessive mate's feathers a little bit. Assuming you're really not trying anything untoward, everything will generally calm down in a second or two.

But in a situation where everyone is armed, my experience is that people — if they are around strangers that they don't know — tend to be hyper-cautious about not doing things that could be misinterpreted. So the 17-year-old kid, obviously not the dominant male in this equation, takes the very safe route of just never speaking to what he perceives to be the other guy's girl. By always speaking to the other guy, there's no chance of an implied challenge, no ruffled feathers, and no "my gigantic penis, let me show you it" contest while everyone is holding shotguns.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:55 AM on April 16, 2010 [10 favorites]


This kind of stuff is one of the things I usually look out for to see how folks really treat people. This also happens with race and colorism as well. It's a pretty good indicator to see who rate as "people" and who rate as "attendant/extras/children" in some folks' worldviews.
posted by yeloson at 9:56 AM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


You are a representative of a business, and it is your job to interact with customers. You see two potential customers together. What criteria do you use to determine which one to address first? Alternatively, how do you address them both simultaneously without coming across as awkward and/or indecisive?

Not hypothetical in the least, and easy down here: glance back and forth between them and ask:

"What can I help y'all with today?"

....then see who speaks up first.
posted by jquinby at 10:08 AM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


One other possible point: She's very pretty. I know I personally am shy, and have a hard time addressing myself directly to women I think are very attractive. So, um, women who have felt weirdly neglected or ignored by me: it's sort of a compliment. I wish I wasn't that way. Sorry.
posted by rusty at 10:12 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does everything have to be about identity politics? If this was getting to her so much - then speak up. Perhaps she was not addressed because the vibe she was giving off was "not so much in learning about shooting - more interested in seeing if you play on the stereotypes that I am stereotypically projecting on to you". You could see her crafting her blog in her head even the whole time (Gun Club+White People+Asian Progressive Girl = A Teaching Moment for All of US). Bah!

As an Asian man - I sometimes get a little bit of odd friction (as oppossed to good friction, you know?) - but you can do one of two things - you can let the situation get you down, or you can interact and take charge of your experience. Guess which one I choose most of the time.
posted by helmutdog at 10:25 AM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


This kind of stuff is one of the things I usually look out for to see how folks really treat people.

I do too! I was a little nervous when I introduced a (male) friend from work to my husband. Like M2M was gonna take over suddenly. I was happy that my (anti-healthcare reform, NRA-member) co-worker continued to address me directly. I disagree with just about everything he says (about politics), but I still think he's a good person.
posted by stinker at 10:26 AM on April 16, 2010


Nothing in hear article indicates she had a "negative attitude".

Other than her explicit indication of her dislike of "gun culture" and fear of guns.


You don't have to look far, here's the third paragraph like thing (stanza?): I was a baby about it for several reasons: I am not a fan of hunter/gun culture. I associate it with the Tea Party. I assume that accidents will definitely happen and they will happen to me.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:33 AM on April 16, 2010


Alternatively, how do you address them both simultaneously without coming across as awkward and/or indecisive?

Use the second-person plural "y'all".
posted by vibrotronica at 10:36 AM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


You see, when you live in a liberal state and surround yourself with “progressive” types, even those with the most cynical and mistrusting nature (like this moi) can temporarily forget that this bullshit happens all the time.

... The point is, M2M occurs at all times in all places. Not just those that are “male-oriented”

I'm not sure she proves this point, or differentiates it from general male privilege.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:37 AM on April 16, 2010


To build on what Kadin2048 said, another factor is that female significant others get unenthusiastically dragged along to shooting ranges all the time. Even if they do choose to shoot, they generally fire a couple shots then demure from continuing.

So if this woman wasn't enthusiastically participating, if she wasn't enjoying it, it doesn't surprise me one iota that the instructor largely ignored her. He probably assumed she was there for the experience of "shooting a gun", and had no particular desire to be good at it.

However, women who show proficiency, or at least enthusiasm, get similar treatment to men at the range.

Also note that men who dislike shooting also get short shrift at the range. I've taken several male non-shooters, and after shooting and scaring themselves, they'll sit around looking bored and nervous. It's no surprise to me that they are then left out of the gun-related small talk that develops.

On preview: I should also note I'm aware of the phenomenon of man-to-man talk. It happens constantly, and really annoys me. And it may have been a factor here. I'm just noting that her attitude may have been a bigger factor.
posted by Netzapper at 10:41 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, the empathy in here is staggering. Half of the comments are about the author being whiny, sensitive, passive and negative about manly things. Y'all need to check yourselves on your blinders and your susceptibility to gender stereotypes.

This happens to my wife all of the time. I see it happen. She, a black woman, is constantly ignored. Since I look white and I'm a man I am always the one who is addressed. Hell, I'm the unemployed broke one! She is the PhD. with a tenure track position. But people still acknowledge me instead of her.
posted by anansi at 10:45 AM on April 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


I can't take this seriously because M2M looks like a porn categorization to me. I expect the "strapping" young 17 year old and the guy she's with to start field stripping each others guns at any moment.

Dear PenthouNRA Newsletter, you're never going to believe what happened to me last week at the gun range...
posted by Babblesort at 10:47 AM on April 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Did you all see her photo. That 17-yo white kid "instructor" was probably having the hots for her...
posted by polymodus at 10:53 AM on April 16, 2010


Assumption is often wrong, but is probably inevitable as people attempt to facilitate interaction via real or imagined similarity.

W2W is pervasive and possesses its own hard edge. If I find myself amid women who insist on their own broad stereotypes, and I don't fit them, I have been called out and/or shunned. This becomes particularly nasty when topics run towards pregnancy and babies. I've been told that "ALL women love (babies, shoes, shopping, etc.)" and when I disagree I have actually been treated, not always but often, with subtle hostility.

In social situations when expected to mingle with other females, boredom has frequently caused me to move on to a male group with whom I actually share interests. This causes problems all around, as the deserted females thus perceive me as a threat--I'm going to "steal their men"--and the men will hesitate to converse with me as I do not fit into any easy category.

I've found that after a few minutes, the men are more accepting of my deviation from the norm than the women. Not always, but in the majority of cases.

The bottom line: disappointing others' assumptions can lead to trouble, but it's still best to be true to yourself and let others sort things out for themselves.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:55 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, the empathy in here is staggering. Half of the comments are about the author being whiny, sensitive, passive and negative about manly things. Y'all need to check yourselves on your blinders and your susceptibility to gender stereotypes.

She says herself she was negative about it. If the recoil bothered her, and she couldn't be bothered to learn the proper terminology (like "recoil"), that's going to show immediately.

If I go to get tennis lessons, then wince every time I swing the racquet, the whole time calling it a "paddle", the instructor is going to notice and take less of an interest in me.

And, as I said, most women who come to the range with men aren't actually the ones interested in shooting. The ones who come alone, or at least have their own weapon, obviously are interested.

So, m2m exists. It's the reason people bring my unemployed ass my wife's credit card. And it may have been a factor here. But it wasn't helped by her not being into it.
posted by Netzapper at 10:55 AM on April 16, 2010


"I hadn't thought of the "Men don't want to be seen as coming on to a woman they perceive is in a relationship" angle."
Oooh yeah. Big facet of M2M relations. Buddy of mine and his girl came over a bit back while I was hitting the heavy bag just wearing shorts. I'm not sculpted but I'm pretty muscular. And I noticed she was looking at me with some interest. So I did a farmers handkerchief and hocked up a lugie into the trashcan. Y'know, common courtesy to my buddy.

But a lot of people do ignore women do by rote. My wife runs all the finances in our family. She carries the money, has the checkbook, etc. She 'pays' when we go out to eat. She orders for herself, all that.
Typically while I'm keeping the kids in line - double edged sword looking like every 'in charge' white male airline pilot/ship captain/quarterback/etc. I've walked into public events like press conferences and people have insisted on sitting me at the front table despite my protests that I'm just there to watch or I'm not even part of this just looking for the bar in this hotel, etc.

So I still get waiters asking me what we'll be having even though I'm playing with toys and making goo goo noises and she's waving her platinum card around trying to get some respect.

Our gun club, entirely different story. They know me. They know my wife. They focus on my wife (also because she's a bit more aggressive around firearms than I am).

So in this specific situation (clay pigeon shooting), I'd speak to the guy too. Her body language would be obvious from the start. She doesn't want to be there, she doesn't like what's going on, she's obviously not into this as a sport, she says as much herself from the outset -so why waste your time beyond making sure she doesn't hurt herself?

My wife is Asian. But she gets much more attention at the range than I do. In part because she's more into handguns than I am (sort of has to be - I have big hands and forearms so I can shoot anything. She has to be a bit more focused). So she puts out a customized P226NSW DAK and gets attention and taken seriously as a shooter. Moreso than me anyway (I like shotguns or knives in CQB or a hush puppy if there are dogs).

Gun ranges, unlike restaurants, tend to be specialized areas more dependent on the cred you seem to have rather than gender. Comic book shops as well.

I go into a comic book store where I'm not known and I get zero props because I've got the sidewall haircut, square jaw and stiff clothes on.
Most of those places are seedy because they're meant to rebuff people who look like me. Except, within 10 minutes I'm in a conversation with a 14 year old with the green hair and purple tints about Dorkin or Mignola and taking his comments on the Frank Book seriously.

No one likes a tourist or a dilettante in something they're serious about. I notice women who fix cars get plenty of respect once they show they can do the job. (Hell, I don't know much about cars so I listen to anyone who looks like they know where to use a wrench)
So a lot of this, yes, is contextual.
Doesn't invalidate the general bias which does exist. But yeah, some interpersonal relations aren't about women at all, it's between men.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:56 AM on April 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


text ads for pornsites that somehow overflowed their boxes

M2M looks like a porn categorization to me

Depending on your tastes in genre, porn is one of the few places were you probably wouldn't see the men just address each other and ignore the uncomfortable-looking woman... There's a over-flowing box joke to make here, too, but I can't quite reach it.
posted by ServSci at 10:57 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


This happened to me at the gun range once. I'd brought a (male) friend to show him how to shoot; we showed up, put our stuff on one of the stands, and dragged some targets out. There was a guy downrange, so we couldn't do much more than that. In the meantime, someone else I knew (male) came up, and we started chatting.

The minute the guy who was downrange got back, he came up to the three of us and said, to one of the men: "Hey, she can't do that. She's not allowed to handle guns while someone is downrange. blah blah blah etc two-minute lecture." It was highly awkward, because a) I was standing right there while he refused to look at me and continued to refer to me in the third person over and over and b) putting guns which are still in cases onto a stand generally isn't considered "handling" at that range... and certainly not to the extent where it earns one a lecture. The three of us just sort of stood there and gaped at him -- even the men were visibly uncomfortable.

The guy continued rules-lawyering at me (but never to me, always to the nearest man) the entire time I was there, despite the fact that men were doing the same stuff left and right. It was really weird -- not least because, as Kadin2048 points out, range culture dictates that you mind your own business unless you see something dangerous, not eagerly lecture people about how the bolt on their rifle was open, but not open enough when they went downrange. I swear the guy was watching me more than the target.

To be fair, most of the people at the range are fine -- we have a pretty good one here, with a lot of helpful people and not much overt politics -- but I'll never forget that particular guy. I have to wonder how he gets through daily life with [PERSON REDACTED] written over 51% of the human race.
posted by vorfeed at 10:58 AM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


If I go to get tennis lessons, then wince every time I swing the racquet, the whole time calling it a "paddle", the instructor is going to notice and take less of an interest in me.

No, a good instructor is going to attempt to dispel fears and educate people. Otherwise you are not an instructor, you're just some dude hanging out there.
posted by anansi at 10:58 AM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


A lot of you here are arguing that it was her fault for being passive/unenthused, etc. It doesn't change the fact, given the contrast between her and her companion's treatment, that the instructor's behavior was slightly rude. She cut him some slack because he was a minor.
posted by polymodus at 10:58 AM on April 16, 2010


If I go to get tennis lessons, then wince every time I swing the racquet, the whole time calling it a "paddle", the instructor is going to notice and take less of an interest in me.


Find a better instructor.
posted by polymodus at 10:59 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've seen waiters do M2M at my parents. I find it quaint and disgusting.
posted by polymodus at 11:00 AM on April 16, 2010


If you'd like to experience W2W, have a kid and then go anywhere with that child and your wife. Instant marginalization! I've never felt so invisible as I do when I'm out with my baby and my wife (and *I'm* the stay-at-home dad).
posted by incessant at 11:01 AM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


if you are a guy, particularly a single guy, you do not go striking up conversation with "another man's woman."

Because women=property, amirite? Can't mess with another man's possession, or treat her like her own person.

Though the rest of your comment seems to imply that some men will actually threaten or shoot you if you talk to "their" women."

Seriously? Do gun fights break out at shooting ranges? And aren't you armed, too?

And don't you see how messed up this all is?
posted by emjaybee at 11:01 AM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've seen this happen a great deal. Not really in my professional life, but when I get out of the ivory tower into the "real world". The most striking examples I've seen were in garages (not sure of the US English equivalent - where you take your car to the mechanic) and petrol stations.

The first time it really struck home, I was with my then-girlfriend when she drove her car to the garage to get the car's MOT test. The guys in the garage saw:
- the car arrive with her at the wheel
- us both get out of the car, her from the driver's side, me from the passenger side
- her locking the car and walking toward them with the keys, as I hung back
- her asking them if they had time to do her MOT, and telling them about a potential problem the car was developing.

...and then the guys running the place looked six feet behind her, to me, and told me the answers to her questions. I was stunned, she was bloody furious. We went to another garage where she was treated with more respect (i.e. they acknowleged the possibility that a woman might own and be in charge of a car)... but then when we picked up the car, she paid and signed the paperwork, and the keys were held out away from her, to me. Awesome. After that I started paying more attention, and was stunned how common it seemed to be.

A more recent girlfriend of mine was non-white and spoke English with a very noticable but easy to understand foreign accent. We were living in London - a supposedly cosmopolitan city - and the extent to which people would always talk to me first, or even answer her questions by addressing me, was astonishing.

So while it's certainly possible that this blogger had a chip on her shoulder or a bad attitude, nothing she's described is inconsistent with the way that I've often seen women and/or non-white people treated in various parts of the UK. (I hope I don't do this, but I can only assume that most people who do it aren't aware of it. So maybe I do? Slightly freaky thought, there).
posted by metaBugs at 11:08 AM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


It doesn't change the fact, given the contrast between her and her companion's treatment, that the instructor's behavior was slightly rude. She cut him some slack because he was a minor.

Oh heaven forbid that a teenager might be a little bit uneasy about a try-hard scenester jerk that shows up somewhere and acts like she hates everybody there and is terrified of guns. Good for her for cutting him some slack even though he's a horrible Teabagger who has taken great pains to conceal his undoubtedly present political and character flaws. I mean, it's not like she then went and complained about a valid reaction to her own bad attitude on her vanity blog and then drew all sorts of specious influences from it.

If you're afraid of dogs, do you accompany your friend to a dog park and then complain that the other dog owners are more interested in talking to your friend? Do you then get on your internet soapbox and make up a completely bogus narrative about it and expect that everyone will condemn the dog owners? Do you feel secure in being unable to think beyond crass stereotyping, solipsism, and filling in the gaps with unsupported assumptions? If so, then you should feel OK defending the blogger. If not, then you can see why the only evidence so far points to her being out of line and throwing a temper tantrum.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:15 AM on April 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


er, inferences
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:15 AM on April 16, 2010


Odd. I work in retail and if an attractive woman walks into my shop with her male other I generally have to keep reminding myself to include him in the conversation.

Surely the M2M thing is really just men, probably young men, doing human relations a bit wrong, through shyness, inexperience or incompetence. And young men are generally either one, any two, or all three of these things, particularly when confronted by a pretty girl.

The thing that the blogger finds most damning, that the instructor offers advice only to the guy, is probably the clearest indicator of this being an atypical example of sexist behaviour.
posted by tigrefacile at 11:24 AM on April 16, 2010


"If you were a gentleman, I would speak to you. I was speaking at you." -- Rochefort
posted by kirkaracha at 11:25 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


The funny thing is that it's not just guys who do this -- women would cut each other out of the equation, too.

This. It's not a male-to-male thing, it's an everyone-to-male thing. People ALWAYS assume I'm the one paying or making decisions, no matter what the situation. The SO and I were just talking about this after last weekend, when we were furniture/apartment shopping for HER, but everyone we dealt with -- male and female -- addressed me. This despite the fact that she initiated interactions with people and asked most of the questions.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:25 AM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's even worse when people do that and you're a woman by yourself. "Why don't you come back with your husband?"

Luckily, that doesn't happen to me as much as it used to. I'm not sure if people have become more enlightened or it's more obvious I'm not married.
posted by interplanetjanet at 11:43 AM on April 16, 2010


emjaybee: "Because women=property, amirite? Can't mess with another man's possession, or treat her like her own person.

Well ... yeah, that's the underlying subtext. I didn't say it wasn't sexist, nor did I say it's necessarily universal. But a lot of people take a very proprietary attitude towards their companions, with regard to strangers.

But I'm not sure it's quite as clear-cut as just woman=property, because it does go in the other direction in other situations: e.g. single woman walks up to a guy at a bar, who's there with another woman. You get almost the same sort of proprietary "hands off my man" thing going on.

"Though the rest of your comment seems to imply that some men will actually threaten or shoot you if you talk to "their" women.""

It's not that clear cut. Actually, gunfights basically never occur at shooting ranges, or in gun stores, etc., at least that I've ever heard of. (With the exception of the occasional ill-advised attempt to rob a gun store, but that's different.) I'm not sure that's really the risk. In all honesty, you could probably get away with being a real dick at a gun range and the worst that's going to happen to you is you'll be asked rather pointedly to leave. But despite that, my experience is that it's one of those places where people tend to be more self-conscious of their own behavior and of "the rules" than normal, and this extends not just to the rules which make sense (like gun safety), but also to social norms that perhaps aren't as closely followed elsewhere.

It's also been my observation from hanging around shooting ranges that people will address each other as "sir" or "ma'am" even in places where that isn't de rigueur for normal conversation. (E.g. in New England, where that's not as frequent as in other parts of the country.)

Obviously I'm building up from anecdotes here so a certain amount of selection bias is possible; maybe I just go to really uber-polite shooting ranges. (There is probably some truth to this, because I do make a point of not going to ranges where people are sloppy about following safety rules or where those rules aren't aggressively enforced.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:09 PM on April 16, 2010


This happens to me all the time. I have a weekly DJ night with a well established female DJ who founded the night many years ago. When we're in the booth together guys will ask her if she can "get the DJ" for them, and a lot of girls talk to me because they think if they're drunk and flirty I'll play their terrible requests.

PS: I won't. Stop trying.
posted by Jairus at 12:12 PM on April 16, 2010


Why are people falling all over themselves to "prove" that obviously this is another issue entirely and that this is obviously some woman overreacting to a perceived slight?

Here's a idea. Read what she said and think about it. You don't need to believe her, but at least respect that she might have a point. Now, for the next few weeks, pay attention. Watch how people interact with mixed male/female groups. Watch how you interact in these situations, especially when you don't know everyone. You might just learn something.
posted by aspo at 12:20 PM on April 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


If she thinks the recoil from firing birdshot is "too jarring," she was almost certainly holding the shotgun incorrectly and the instructor should have noticed this and helped her out. Her conjecture that he didn't help her out because of her gender or race is entirely baseless, though, and I'm not at all sure why we're paying any attention to her.

By the way, there are over 250 million firearms owned by over sixty million people in the U.S. Even if every single Teabagger owns a gun, they'd still constitute a minuscule fraction of the total gun-owning population. Many folks at the range are simply there to maintain competence with their weapons, they aren't steeped in "gun culture."

/liberal gun owner
posted by Thoughtcrime at 12:31 PM on April 16, 2010


Her conjecture that he didn't help her out because of her gender or race is entirely baseless, though, and I'm not at all sure why we're paying any attention to her.

/facepalm

Really? You are positively sure about this? One of the most irritating parts of privilege is the unerring ability to be obtuse about its existence.
posted by anansi at 12:36 PM on April 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


The fact is, we don't really have enough facts to judge what went on here, The information we have does not rule out any possibility from the kid being a nazi all the way to his having a crush on her and being shy. One possibility not mentioned, maybe he was training her companion to train her (i.e., after his limited time with them was up, her friend would be the default instructor).
posted by 445supermag at 12:41 PM on April 16, 2010


This is when you go to a place where you’re the only brown person and small machines shoot clay discs into the air and you try to shoot them with a shotgun. [...] I associate it with the Tea Party. I assume that accidents will definitely happen and they will happen to me.

Guns, "Brown people," Tea Parties - unite! She wastes no time in crying wolf in every tongue to which the web is sensitized. It doesn't really matter what comes after that, whether her accusations do assemble into some promised logical Voltron, or just stretch confirmation bias a little past its tensile limits. She won our eyes with the first twenty words. Well done, you.

Any number of better writers, poring through all the trendy zines to unscramble the knack of the popular, wondering what is missing from their craft. They'll read this and understand it all: that their work lacks not an art but an ingredient. Controversy is the chemical precursor to life on the internet. Controversy over etiquette and fashion. Moral panic over etiquette and fashion. Are Hipsters the End of Western Civilization? Have Teabaggers ruined Denim? Does Phallic Gaze cause cancer? Are Asian Women Invisible on Gun Ranges? Now we're writing!

And this is a lot like a old urban walkabout, the tour between the mean and the mannered that tickled a Victorian ear. Listen: I visited, dear reader, a House of Scandal and Danger, and beheld armed Plebs in their native Habits. See how the Creature speaks to its own kind, dismisses me - me! - as some little demimonde! Why, the brute is quite innocent. He failed to appreciate my judicious plaids and the nonprescription John Lennons I dusted off for the occasion. ("Happiness is a warm gun," natch.) He is of course unaware of the rules of etiquette and lines of aesthetics he breaks with every step. He very nearly stumbled into my Polaroid as it was being taken. How the mean trundle ever onward without our guidance! Follow me, Twitter. Pause with me in this dark place, and then for bubble tea and panini sandwiches. Then: temperance rally!
posted by kid ichorous at 12:43 PM on April 16, 2010 [14 favorites]


It must be exhausting constantly searching for slights against your ego.
posted by cmoj at 12:46 PM on April 16, 2010


Any male wants to experience this for himself, just go car shopping with a woman. Regardless that she is the one who will pay for, own, and drive the car, you'll find that almost all salesmen will continue to try to talk to you instead of her.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:51 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm uncomfortable with people who make long blog posts or essays or whatever about the problems of prejudice and being a woman and/or person of color and whatnot and then go and spend a large chunk of said blog post or essay or whatever making gross generalizations about men and/or white people and whatnot.

To start out with examples of your prejudices about gun ownership and gun owners and then complain about how people have prejudices towards you... I have trouble respecting that. If you aren't willing to have an open mind about the world, you cannot expect others to do the same. Among other things, if you start out obviously uncomfortable and not liking someone, the chances that they will avoid or ignore you or just be plain unpleasant go up significantly.

That doesn't invalidate the experiences of prejudice that people experience. But I don't believe that we can expect from other people better behavior than we ourselves are willing to put forth. If you're going to treat other people like they're cardboard cutouts representing your preconceptions, they unfortunately have a habit of living down to your expectations.

And I know this because I have done this, and am trying to stop, and what a difference it has made in my life.
posted by gracedissolved at 12:52 PM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you click her blog link to see the current content she has a bit of response about the discussion going on here.
posted by Babblesort at 12:53 PM on April 16, 2010


Her conjecture that he didn't help her out because of her gender or race is entirely baseless, though, and I'm not at all sure why we're paying any attention to her.

/facepalm

Really? You are positively sure about this? One of the most irritating parts of privilege is the unerring ability to be obtuse about its existence.


Anasazi, I think you've done been trollded.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:56 PM on April 16, 2010


"This weekend I went to Metafilter for the first time.

This is when you go to a place where you’re the only white person and people post stories just to get outraged about.

I was a baby about it for several reasons: I am not a fan of Mefite culture. I associate it with the liberals. I assume that accidents will definitely happen and they will happen to me.

Unfortunately I did not much enjoy the conversation (the kickback was too jarring) but that is a story for another time.

This is a story about a different thing. Something I call Man to Man (M2M)."

...

Would you accept a criticism of your community that opened like this in good faith?
posted by kid ichorous at 12:59 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can't decide between:

Metafilter: pause with me in this dark place, and then for bubble tea and panini sandwiches.

and

Metafilter: How the mean trundle ever onward without our guidance!
posted by jquinby at 1:01 PM on April 16, 2010


Any male wants to experience this for himself, just go car shopping with a woman. Regardless that she is the one who will pay for, own, and drive the car, you'll find that almost all salesmen will continue to try to talk to you instead of her.

This can work to your advantage when striking a deal for a car.
Nothing seems to fluster a car salesman more than not being able to figure out who to sell to.
posted by madajb at 1:12 PM on April 16, 2010


Why are people falling all over themselves to "prove" that obviously this is another issue entirely and that this is obviously some woman overreacting to a perceived slight?

That's not what's happening. What is happening is that she's engaged in lazy argumentation and offered no evidence to back it up. She hasn't met her burden of proof, and not surprisingly she's called out on her own bad assumptions and behavior. There's no conspiracy here.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:16 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


cmoj: "64It must be exhausting constantly searching for slights against your ego."

Probably just as exhausting (if not as much fun) as constantly dismissing the experiences of others.
posted by anansi at 1:19 PM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I can't wait to form an opinion worth arguing about based on a thin blog post!
posted by klangklangston at 1:20 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wanted to verify some of her claims so I went to the M2M section of Craigslist, and she's totally right - nobody there is referring to women at all.

and I bet you'll all just say it's confirmation bias.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 1:21 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


While I am somewhat surprised a gun range attendant wouldn't recognize a beginner when he sees one, I'm not sure you can really read too much into the reactions of a 17 year old boy.

Also, as a "househusband"/"Stay at home Dad"/"whatever the current term is", I can tell you that this phenomenon is not at all limited to Male/Male interaction.

I've met women who will only talk to me through my child, been excluded from playdates forming right in front of me, hell, even been told that men "don't really fit in" at storytime.
Don't even get me started on "Mommy and Me" classes that don't allow men, period.

On the other hand, if I show up with my wife, playdate invitations flow like rain, active participation is encourage and, despite her being dressed in professional attire and my wearing sweatpants holding a diaper bag looking slightly frazzled with baby in tow, all baby questions are directed solely at her as if I am not even there.
posted by madajb at 1:25 PM on April 16, 2010


Oh heaven forbid that a teenager might be a little bit uneasy about a try-hard scenester jerk that shows up somewhere and acts like she hates everybody there and is terrified of guns.

This teenager had a role to play there, and he failed it. In that setting, he was guide first, and only second, a minor. I would judge him by the same priority of criteria.

And you portray the girl in a very negative light. She didn't hate everyone there and she isn't terrified of guns. You aren't making any sense. You fail to see the truth in a vaguely written blog post, and find more satisfaction in criticizing the author than bringing insight.

Bye!
posted by polymodus at 1:26 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wanted to verify some of her claims so I went to the M2M section of Craigslist, and she's totally right - nobody there is referring to women at all.

i think u wandered into the M4M section, that's somewhat different
posted by polymodus at 1:28 PM on April 16, 2010


Anasazi, I think you've done been trollded.

Nope, I wasn't trolling. The woman presents zero evidence for her claims.

Really? You are positively sure about this? One of the most irritating parts of privilege is the unerring ability to be obtuse about its existence.

No, I'm not positively sure, and I'd wager that the M2M phenomenon actually does exist. But why is she so sure it happened in this case? Maybe if she had talked to the kid or had any real basis to think he was discriminating based on gender instead of one of the many other possibilities folks have raised in this thread I'd find her entry more persuasive.

Isn't there an academic paper that could have been linked to instead of the anecdotal blog entry of a woman who is prone to stereotyping? That would be much more worthy of a FPP.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 1:31 PM on April 16, 2010


The blogger is a myopic hypocrite and I could write better prose with a ballpoint clutched in my rectum.

[later]

Good for her for cutting him some slack even though he's a horrible Teabagger who has taken great pains to conceal his undoubtedly present political and character flaws.


Gonna call you out. Your prose is pretty vile, too. Apparently mefites like it because of the #faves you get for doing it.
posted by polymodus at 1:32 PM on April 16, 2010


Isn't there an academic paper

Yes, there's some related sociological research in e.g., stereotype "passing" and race "code words". But nothing makes it so visceral in the way of someone's personal experience.
posted by polymodus at 1:37 PM on April 16, 2010


And you portray the girl in a very negative light. She didn't hate everyone there and she isn't terrified of guns.

She admits that she was afraid she might be killed just by loading shells into the shotgun. Sounds like she's pretty terrified of guns.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 1:38 PM on April 16, 2010


She didn't hate everyone there and she isn't terrified of guns.

No, she just painted a huge number of people in the United States with a broad, negative brush and confessed to a magical thinking-driven fear of guns. What?

And you portray the girl in a very negative light.

Vain, sheltered, cooler-than-thou jerk goes hobby slumming is a negative light whether or not I have anything to say about a particular case.

You fail to see the truth in a vaguely written blog post, and find more satisfaction in criticizing the author than bringing insight.

Save it. Nobody's denying sexism generally. The blog post is a stinking pile of hypocrisy and displays the total lack of self-analysis I generally associate with small children. You don't get to rant about how women are stereotyped and then turn around stereotype yourself. It isn't cool to be a dick, even if some other people act like dicks - and I didn't see any mentioned individually in her post.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:39 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


@Inspector.Gadget

You don't understand. The central line in that post is this:

The constant fight for visibility is exhausting.

And that's why this piece of personal writing is beautiful. The incompleteness is allowed in blog posts.
posted by polymodus at 1:49 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lucky me, I come to M2M situations equipped with a man. If his presence is too distracting, I ask him to go sit in the car or read a magazine or find a special kind of floor mat or whatever. If my presence is unnecessary, then I make my wishes known and then go do whatever.

Salesman: What do you think about this one, manly man who is obviously in charge of this purchase due to being a man?
ifds, gentlemen's annex: (Looks at me, puzzled)
Me: I want the darker one. If it comes in matte, have him mix one gallon of that, and pick out an accent color and get however much you think is good. If it doesn't come in matte, I want a sample of the red we were looking at before. (Wanders off to flirt with cute bagger or obsessively check email)


So it generally doesn't bother me. It is more irritating for him because he is somewhat introverted and he hates it when I pull the above and leave him to do all the talking.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:49 PM on April 16, 2010


This thread is bizarre.

Half of the commenters are giving examples of when this happened to them (and most of these commenters are men!), and talking about just how ubiquitous the phenomenon is.

The other half are completely and utterly ignoring all of these experiences, and just denying the phenomenon outright, or explaining and excusing it (I guess it's just human nature to ignore women and poc?), or attacking the integrity of the blog poster.

I went back a few months in her posts and didn't see any indications that she just goes out looking to be offended. Man, just to be sure, I went back through a year of her posts and she doesn't engage in any "identity politics" or whatever. As far as I can tell, this one post is just about an experience she had that happens to her rather frequently but this time she decided to write about it. I kind of resent that I even felt compelled to do this, as if she needed me to try to defend her when the people making accusations against her are the ones who should have to back it up.

It's amazing how much is being projected onto her. She's the intolerant bigoted one; she's "crying wolf"; she's looking for reasons to be offended. For those who say "we don't have enough facts" well fine, you might not, but that doesn't make her wrong. For me, it's not even persuasive. I don't even know what your point is. You don't think you have enough facts because this isn't something you experience regularly. Well now perhaps you've learned an interesting thing about the world. But instead you just want to dismiss her experience, because apparently you do have enough facts to do that.

Those saying her "accusations" are "baseless". And what basis do you have to say that? Really, how would you know when you're a man (and 99% of you are). Why assume she's lying or crazy rather than it's highly likely you wouldn't have noticed this without someone pointing it out to you? Who is really lacking humility here?

Recently we had a thread about a very similar problem, where those who are discriminated against and who share their experiences are dismissed because "we don't have enough facts" or "you're just looking for reasons to be offended." Seriously, we don't have to look (and what kind of people do you think we are anyway?).
posted by Danila at 1:49 PM on April 16, 2010 [11 favorites]


She admits that she was afraid she might be killed just by loading shells into the shotgun.

The could be rhetorical thinking or real fear. Guess which one it is?
posted by polymodus at 1:50 PM on April 16, 2010


I went back through a year of her posts and she doesn't engage in any "identity politics" or whatever

Thanks for doing some useful research. <3
posted by polymodus at 1:51 PM on April 16, 2010


In social situations when expected to mingle with other females, boredom has frequently caused me to move on to a male group with whom I actually share interests. This causes problems all around, as the deserted females thus perceive me as a threat--I'm going to "steal their men"--and the men will hesitate to converse with me as I do not fit into any easy category.

I frequently find myself in the similar--but opposite gendered--situation. I was raised by a single working mother, am a professional chef, can't stand professional sports (love some NCAA ball) and generally get along better with women.
In social situations I tend to drift away from the dudes and spend time with the ladies. This invariably causes confusion. Men assume I'm hitting on their ladies, ladies don't really know what to do.
posted by kaiseki at 1:52 PM on April 16, 2010


You don't understand. The central line in that post is this:

The constant fight for visibility is exhausting.

And that's why this piece of personal writing is beautiful. The incompleteness is allowed in blog posts.


"Beautiful" != "must not be questioned", especially when she brings so many offensive stereotypes and such imprecise thinking and writing to bear on whatever her point is. Sexism exists? Sure. But there is enough solid evidence of it that nobody needs to drag it out peripherally to blow the dog whistle for their audience about teabaggers, gun culture, backwardness, etc. This is a vanity piece, and a bad one.

The could be rhetorical thinking or real fear. Guess which one it is?

Either way, it doesn't belong in a supposedly reasoned argument about...well it isn't clear.

Really, how would you know when you're a man (and 99% of you are).

Congratulations on eliminating half of the people you'd like to reach with your argument. I don't have anything else to say. We can ask people to display some intellectual honesty, or we can accept hurf durfing about anything without a shred of evidence and with several of the writer's own prejudices in abundance. This isn't an argument about sexism. It's an argument about standards, and not rushing to condemn people as troglodytes without knowing what they actually said or did.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:02 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's amazing how much is being projected onto her.

Again, exactly how sympathetic would you be to a criticism of Metafilter with a preamble like this? Does this only become flamebait when it targets us?
posted by kid ichorous at 2:04 PM on April 16, 2010


supposedly

Again, your expectations were wrong. When it comes to personal blog entries, I prefer to tread lightly.
posted by polymodus at 2:07 PM on April 16, 2010


When it comes to personal blog entries, I prefer to tread lightly.

I'll tread lightly when somewhere between 25% and 50% of people in the United States aren't being grossly stereotyped for the sole purpose of excusing jerk behavior on the part of one of them, who, to to recap, went somewhere full of fear and disdain, expected it to suck, and seized on the supposedly bad behavior of a teenager to argue that some large number of people are bad/ignorant/etc.

Again, your expectations were wrong.

I don't see that you have any evidence backing yours.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:09 PM on April 16, 2010


I reread it. I still don't see the problem.

"This is when you go to a place where you’re the only brown person and small machines shoot clay discs into the air and you try to shoot them with a shotgun."

This is what the gun ranges I've been to look like.

"I was a baby about it for several reasons: I am not a fan of hunter/gun culture. I associate it with the Tea Party. I assume that accidents will definitely happen and they will happen to me."

This type of phrasing: "I was a baby" "I associate" "I assume" -- These are known as "I" phrases, and in conflict-resolution settings, they are supposed to be more productive for raising and resolving differences than attacking-type, "You" phrases, such as "You ruined my experience" "You gun owners are all bad, mean, racist Tea Partiers" and "You gun nuts will shoot me if I go to your gun club".

The language used by the blogger (Moi) is not attacking language; this is textbook conceding language, designed to convey your harmlessness to the other party, whom you expect to respond in volatile fashion.

I see what you guys did there. You saw her conceding language and "I" phrases and reinterpreted them as attacking "You" phrases and got your Zubaz all in a twist.

Please don't do that.
posted by toodleydoodley at 2:18 PM on April 16, 2010 [9 favorites]


…supposedly bad behavior of a teenager…

tl;dr. But as I already explained in 1:26, it was actually the rude behavior of the weapons guide.

evidence

I already explained my interpretation of incomplete reasoning in the context of a personal blog entry: 1:49 PM
posted by polymodus at 2:29 PM on April 16, 2010


You don't understand. The central line in that post is this:

The constant fight for visibility is exhausting.

And that's why this piece of personal writing is beautiful. The incompleteness is allowed in blog posts.


She's not invisible, and the writing isn't beautiful. She stresses how physically remarkable she is, a brown woman, in the setting of a predominantly white, male gun club. She is certainly not invisible in the Germaine Greer-sense, she's too young and too physically attractive; the aversion here seems to be born from politeness, however misguided, rather than race or gender prejudice. No-one, I think, denies that the M2M behaviour she is concerned with is both real and problematic, it's just that it's not clear if this is an example of it.

The post probably wasn't meant for the kind of scrutiny it has received, but there seems to be some bad faith lingering about it.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:32 PM on April 16, 2010


Congratulations on eliminating half of the people you'd like to reach with your argument. I don't have anything else to say. We can ask people to display some intellectual honesty, or we can accept hurf durfing about anything without a shred of evidence and with several of the writer's own prejudices in abundance. This isn't an argument about sexism. It's an argument about standards, and not rushing to condemn people as troglodytes without knowing what they actually said or did.

Who gets to say what the argument is about? And quite frankly, the blog post doesn't read like an "argument" to me at all. She's not arguing with anybody, she's not "making a case", no this isn't an academic paper attempting to prove that a phenomenon exists and she has no "burden of proof". Most of the FPPs on Metafilter aren't academic papers or court cases either, so I don't see what makes this so different.

And she isn't making a "condemnation" of anybody as a "troglodyte" or anything else! She said the young man was a "nice enough fellow" and goes on at length about how he "could very likely go through his entire life without having anyone bring this habit of his to his attention", she thought he was "pleasant" (even though he barely spoke to her), she was more amused than angry, and she spends as much time analyzing her own actions as his. So who exactly is being condemned here? The only violently aggressive and insulting language is that being used by some people on this thread.
posted by Danila at 2:32 PM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know what's funny? I am good friends with a gay couple who have a child the same age as my children. Both women are lovely human beings, and I adore them and their son.

Yet, whenever I'm with them, I spend most of my time talking to one of them and not the other, and this happens even though I believe I have more in common with the other one. The reason is quite simple: one of them is outgoing and gregarious, and the other is quiet and guarded by comparison. The former leaps into conversations, and the latter only speaks when spoken to. Thus, any three-way conversation we're in quickly becomes a two-way conversation, unless the two of us go out of our way to draw her in (which sometimes we do, but sometimes we do not, because we're paying more attention to the conversation we're having.)

There are so many other reasons why a third person might be excluded from a conversation, intentionally or not, that ascribing it to a specific thing like race or gender is almost assured to be incorrect. Even when accurate, the root cause may be different -- for instance, how many seventeen-year-old boys do you know that don't get nervous around women and work really hard to avoid making eye contact or otherwise potentially embarrassing themselves?
posted by davejay at 2:35 PM on April 16, 2010


the aversion here seems to be born from politeness, however misguided, rather than race or gender prejudice.

It wasn't one or the other; was a combination of all of these. There's also Asian "politeness", so in this case, personality is not so easy to separate from race/cultural background.
posted by polymodus at 2:41 PM on April 16, 2010


how many seventeen-year-old boys

One issue that the OP hints at is emulation by youth. Strapping young lad emulates adult male behavior and values, inheriting bad protocols such as M2M eye contact. This potential kind of propagation is insidious, and I think it is safe to say that such should be fought against.
posted by polymodus at 2:46 PM on April 16, 2010


There are so many other reasons why a third person might be excluded from a conversation, intentionally or not, that ascribing it to a specific thing like race or gender is almost assured to be incorrect.

except when it is the dominant experience of a particular ethnicity, class, or sex of person. we're not talking about coincidences.
posted by toodleydoodley at 2:48 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


There are so many other reasons why a third person might be excluded from a conversation, intentionally or not, that ascribing it to a specific thing like race or gender is almost assured to be incorrect.

This is interesting to me. True, there are many reasons why a hypothetical third person might be excluded from a conversation, but I'm curious as to why you think those reasons are more likely, or why we have to exhaust all other possibilities before raising the possibility that it was race, gender, class, or really a combination of these factors. She's choosing to focus on these specific factors; why is that such a problem?

Gender and race are things that mark us to others. They are some of the many ways other people identify and respond to us, and there are patterns to those responses. The pattern this blog poster has identified is very common (who hasn't heard the "woman goes with man to buy a car and salesman ignores her" story or the "person of color in a store and never gets offered assistance" experience). I also agree with toodleydoodley:

except when it is the dominant experience of a particular ethnicity, class, or sex of person. we're not talking about coincidences.

When a person regularly experiences biased treatment, and especially a form of biased treatment that is as common as this, I do think that the experience has more weight than "just a one-off, probably paranoia" or whatever.
posted by Danila at 2:58 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's kind of weird to see arguments insinuating that this "phenomenon" isn't quite founded on truth. It's real, it pisses people off, and whether or not the blogger wrote about it successfully, it's an interesting subject that warrants at the very least some sort of acknowledgment. Is her particular situation a clear-cut case of M2M? Maybe not, maybe there are other things at play here (like the failure of an instructor to instruct his student), but this scenario is probably not the first one for her. I'd feel safe saying that it's likely to be the proverbial straw.

And yes, car shopping is insanity when you're a woman. It's rare to feel insulted to such a degree as when you're looking to make an expensive purchase, and someone completely glosses over you because there's man they could talk to instead. The sheer nerve.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 3:01 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


And which one do women talk to?
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:11 PM on April 16, 2010


These are known as "I" phrases, and in conflict-resolution settings, they are supposed to be more productive for raising and resolving differences than attacking-type, "You" phrases [...] I see what you guys did there. You saw her conceding language and "I" phrases and reinterpreted them as attacking "You" phrases and got your Zubaz all in a twist.

If you don't read for any subtleties of tone between pure concession and attack, tied inextricably to the first-person and second-person usage of verbs, I guess you could be right; but this approach to reading is stilted and completely deaf to passive-aggression, false modesty, and to the many niggling ironies codified into online expression. If you can't find the tee-hee grace-note in:

This is when you go to a place where you’re the only brown person and small machines shoot clay discs into the air and you try to shoot them with a shotgun.

then you're reading the wrong playbook. She's not speaking "conflict resoultion," she's coyly suggesting that People of Color are not materially represented in Gun Culture unless they are 1) our humble narrator or 2) someone who shares her precise experience. That's as deep as it gets. Tee-hee! Oh, and Asian women drive like this...

Here's what we're given. We're given a hypothesis about a third party, which suggests that certain unfounded generalizations may be driving his behavior. And then we're given a few such categorical pronouncements straight from the author's pen.

One category is speculative - probable, or improbable. The other, even if dubiously "softened" by modesty or cute rhetorical grace-notes, is not. We're weighing the possible against the material.
posted by kid ichorous at 3:52 PM on April 16, 2010


kid ichorous, you argue for "subtleties of tone between pure concession and attack" but then you don't grant the author any. You frame her words as pure attack, no subtlety, no allowance for humor, no acknowledgement of any humility or self-reflection on her part, nor any recognition of the grace with which she treated the young man in question. She's being framed as some nasty ideologue with an axe to grind, and that's being presented as the reason why she interpreted the events as she did. It's not even "probable" that she's a jerk, she just is as a matter of fact. Because of her tone.
posted by Danila at 4:11 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


She's not speaking "conflict resoultion," she's coyly suggesting that People of Color are not materially represented in Gun Culture unless they are 1) our humble narrator or 2) someone who shares her precise experience.

you saw that as coy? I thought it was distress, as in, I went to the place where there were lots of white people with guns who knew how to shoot them, and there I was, brown and female and not knowing how to shoot a gun.

I thought she just felt kind of outnumbered, you know, the way nonwhite (and white, truth be told) females do when surrounded by white males, let alone armed and capable. this is a crew she doesn't want to piss off, even when she's speaking with a wink to her own group (women, maybe brown, maybe not); hence the "concession" language in the next sentence. but everybody got pissed off anyway. why do you think that might be, really?
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:15 PM on April 16, 2010


No, Danilla, I'll give you that - she needn't be a jerk at all. However her writing strikes the ear, whatever person it evokes or shows through, that's one thing. But her case undermines itself. Allowing that her complaint is valid, and that such crude generalizations are unbecoming, uncomfortable, whatever, makes the essay indigestible: it is overly laden by real instances of the very thing she's complaining about in the anecdotal or the abstract. And so these observations must then be ironic, which opens up a rich vein of authorial tone, and there we are again.
posted by kid ichorous at 4:26 PM on April 16, 2010


toodleydoodley, thank you for your comment about "I" phrases. It helped me understand what she was trying to communicate with that portion of her blog post. My original interpretation was more along the lines of vitriol-laden "you" phrases. Interesting how communication strategies can backfire unless everyone involved is knowledgeable about them. I suspect much of the thread will now be a back-and-forth about those exact phrases.

Like some others, I left the post with a "but what if it was this other thing" reaction: What if the 17-year-old guy spoke loudly to her man friend about shooting tips while she was aiming as a polite way to pass information along to her under the table without singling her out for unwanted attention or disrupting her flow? What if he was just shy about interacting with a woman as pretty as her? What if whatever.

The main thing to me is that this is a fish out of water story. She went somewhere she was not comfortable, and for whatever reason, she was not embraced there--maybe even downright snubbed. I've seen that happen before, and I've seen the exact opposite thing happen when the outsider is in fact enthusiastic, outgoing, excited, and interested. In particular, I've seen guys be blown away by women who are into their particular "guy" thing, and those women received tons of positive attention directed toward them even when they were accompanied by a man. But when the perceived outsider isn't interested and interesting? Yeah. The in-group will make you feel how much you are an outsider.

The "M2M" phenomenon (unfortunate phrase, and there are definitely other interesting communication patterns along similar lines--it would be a mistake to limit to simply a white male patriarchal thing) is something that everyone who has been on a (heterosexual) date has experienced, or even just a mixed-gender luncheon, but I found this particular instance to be weak sauce. The anecdote would have been much more powerful if it had taken place in a context she was comfortable and familiar with: on the job, eating out, taking public transportation, etc., and even more so if it was a context one stereotypically associates with women, people of color, or women of color rather than everything but.

Because there are readily available alternate explanations for this one occasion, it seems uncharitable of her to pick that particular one. But it also seems like there are some people here who read the article, got defensive, and are in a hurry to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Both are unfortunate. Discussions about oppression and normative roles in society always seem to get derailed by something, don't they?
posted by Nonce at 4:43 PM on April 16, 2010


I don't see how "her case undermines itself", even if she is guilty of making "crude generalizations" wrt gun clubs or whatever it is she is crudely generalizing about. Right off the bat she says that her (mis?)perceptions of what to expect at a gun club ended up irrelevant. It wasn't the fact that she was treated this way because it's a gun club, rather, she is tying the experience to the common way women are treated by men when they are in the company of a another man, regardless of setting. She actually isn't painting all men with a broad brush, she acknowledges that she hadn't been treated that way in a while and she was especially disturbed by her own reaction.

In fact, much of the point of her post is about her own reaction and I've been thinking about that. She says she didn't assert herself as she usually would (belying the claims that maybe she's shy and that's why it keeps happening to her) because it takes a lot of energy to constantly demand for your right to be seen and it just didn't seem worth the effort with this guy.

Well, I have to admit I'm kind of tired of examining her supposed motives, choice of words, and tone. The post is about a behavior (man 2 man) that is not only experienced by many women (and the men who accompany them and find themselves put in an awkward spot), but is also analogous to many other forms of "invisibility" experienced by marginalized people.
posted by Danila at 4:49 PM on April 16, 2010


I realize I'm one of the people above proposing an alternate explanation. I don't in any way think the behavior she's talking about isn't real, nor that it didn't happen to her here, or doesn't happen to her all the time. So, yeah, maybe saying "but what if..." isn't all that helpful. On the other hand, this one context free story sort of invites it. I suspect a much more substantive conversation of the issue could be had if we were starting with a more substantive article about it.

Anyway, it totally is real, is mainly what I'd like to say.
posted by rusty at 5:14 PM on April 16, 2010


Danila: "The other half are completely and utterly ignoring all of these experiences, and just denying the phenomenon outright, or explaining and excusing it (I guess it's just human nature to ignore women and poc?), or attacking the integrity of the blog poster. "

I just want to make it clear that my attempted explanation (that men can be intimidated by the hostility many men show if you pay attention to women they accompany) was not meant to be an excuse. That women are consistently ignored and treated as mens property are two problems that reinforce each other, and neither is desirable.
posted by idiopath at 5:45 PM on April 16, 2010


Rusty, I do think you and others have a fair point. There are other ways the incident can be interpreted, and there are other ways this blog post can be interpreted. It's not upon me to dictate how a blog post is to be received on Metafilter. If some people would rather talk about the author of the blog post and her presentation, that's typically fair ground for Metafilter and I acknowledge that.

In discussions concerning discrimination and prejudice, I am wary of tone arguments because I think they are often used as a tool to cast the perspective of a marginalized individual as "not like us, she's angry" or "those people are paranoid and mean". So if people want to examine the blog author's motives, I think it's also important to examine the motives of the examiners. Why dismiss what she has to say? Is it just the way this one article was framed, or is it a common tool used to reinforce the stratification within society, this dismissal of the experiences and interpretations of marginalized people?

Following a recommendation in the Jezebel thread about this blog post, I've been reading about Miranda Fricker's theory on "powerlessness and social interpretation" (pdf), in particular, what she calls "hermeneutical injustice". Fricker argues that the ways in which members of a marginalized group interpret events are ignored as a result of existing structural prejudice, which serves to further ingrain the prejudice and injustice and make it impossible for alternate meanings to become part of the general discourse on what things (and events) mean. Those in positions of power get to determine what is "known" and even what a society is capable of knowing, because if you can never put a name/meaning to what you have experienced, and this extends to entire groups of people, then some knowledge is lost and certain people are "undermined in their capacity as...giver[s] of knowledge", which Fricker calls "epistemic injustice".

She uses the example of the first woman to sue for sexual harassment, when there was no name for it at the time. She was denied unemployment compensation because when it came time to describe why she left her place of employment, society had left her no way to integrate the many experiences she had at the hands of her boss (rubbing and fondling her, suggestive statements, creating an inappropriate atmosphere in the workplace). Every one of those incidents could easily be explained away (maybe he accidentally touched her, maybe she read too much into what he said, no one else thought the atmosphere was inappropriate, etc.), and I would add that if she became angry about it, then she'd have probably been cast as hysterical. Nowadays we can attach integrative meanings to those behaviors because we can acknowledge the possibility of a pattern. Although individual accusations of sexual harassment are still highly contested, at least there's a name, there's a "there there". Likewise Bev, the author of the blog post, calls this phenomenon "Man2Man".
posted by Danila at 6:12 PM on April 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Your friendly guide to racism/sexism/whatever-ism discussions on METAFILTER:

Blogger: Today something weird happened to me - isn't that weird?

Mefite A: OH THERE ARE SO MANY REASONS WHY THAT COULD HAPPEN YOU'RE OVERREACTING
Mefite B: THAT NEVER HAPPENS TO ME SO I DON'T KNOW WHY IT WOULD HAPPEN TO HER
Mefite C: LOOK BUT HEY SOMETIMES I DO THIS WEIRD THING TOO MYSELF BUT FOR A TOTALLY LEGITIMATE REASON SO THEREFORE IT'S OKAY AND NORMAL
Mefite D: WELL YEAH I'TS TOTALLY HER FAULT SHE BROUGHT IT ON HERSELF
Mefite E: HEY I HAVE A BLACK FRIEND WHO TOLD ME ONCE THAT HE LIKES GRAPE SODA SO ALL BLACK PEOPLE LIKE GRAPE SODA AND SO NOW MY GENERALIZATION IS JUSTIFIED
Mefite E: PANCAKES! HEY LOOK HERE'S A RANDOM JOKE SO WE CAN ALL LAUGH HAH HAH WE'RE ALL FRIENDS RIGHT?
posted by suedehead at 6:15 PM on April 16, 2010


Other than her explicit indication of her dislike of "gun culture" and fear of guns.
That really doesn't indicate she was projecting negativity when she was at the place. There is a difference between "I was ambivalent about being there" and "I was so pissed about being there I was projecting so much negativity that no one would want to talk to me" People aren't psychic, they can't tell if someone is underenthused just by looking at them, especially if they don't say a word.
Oh heaven forbid that a teenager might be a little bit uneasy about a try-hard scenester jerk that shows up somewhere and acts like she hates everybody there and is terrified of guns.
Yeah heaven forbid that someone might be uneasy about a "Try to hard scenester jerk who acts like she hates everybody" that only exists in your mind.

I find the conjecture that she was ignored because she was acting like a superbitch just a little ridiculous.
Nope, I wasn't trolling. The woman presents zero evidence for her claims.
What do you want, a video?
posted by delmoi at 6:47 PM on April 16, 2010


I can't discount other interpretations of the text. I think that the tone of this piece is both puzzling and polarizing, at least to me, and to a handful of others here. I've already addressed the dissonance between calling out ignorant generalizations and mining from them. I can at least try to explain why else it bothers me.

I've seen dozens of these confessionals which culminate in my social interaction was the platonic model of the identity politics encounter. At some point I think they crossed over from being about the individual eureka (and debate as to whether that generalizes to some widespread law, and so on), and began to sound like the sort of embellished vanity piece that Inspector.Gadget was talking about. Very rarely does an excellent writer (even dead) warrant a hundred comments on the blue, never mind find themselves published straight to some zine, "Celebrity, Sex, Fashion For Women," a mug among some pageantry of airbrushed mugs, something to be consumed with a side of diet tips. Much more often it’s the amateur journo with the almighty hook, the same rotating stabs of copy - Hipsters, Privilege, Teabaggers, Lady Gaga - dangling on that point. The kewl pictures, the tone, the undispelled sense that we are party to a staged encounter and a foregone conclusion, that our educated author of Color is slumming around lower-class Whites until lightning strikes, the link to Racialicious in the sidebar (sorry, but being part of the self-promotion machine does hurt one’s attempts to sound genuine), the tone, the ghastly, Holly-Golightly tone.

you saw that as coy? I thought it was distress, as in, I went to the place where there were lots of white people with guns who knew how to shoot them, and there I was, brown and female and not knowing how to shoot a gun.

toodley, your description sounds more menacing, as it could just as easily take place in the unstable context of (say) a militia rally. What I read sounds like a well-dressed, educated woman writer at a (mundane) gun club using the weird epithet "Brown" in hyperbolic jest; she later admits that she could never be identified as anything but Asian, and these are, she admits again, two different things. She appears to be frisking some country boy for any possible reaction to her particular variable. And what is that? Pretty? Woman? Asian? Sweet clothes? Posh accent? None? No reaction? Mute? Okay. I can work with that.

An author must establish credit with her readers. She draws off our time, our moment’s disbelief, and we expect a variety of things in return. In a confessional or "gonzo" piece, one of the things customarily owed the reader is a dirty truth wrested from the weird fringes. She is not embedded in some war-torn nowhere. Okay. Maybe a gun club is the fringe as far as she is concerned. It would certainly explain her odd notions about their inhabitants. My expectations for dirty truth are set relatively low. But even in this, the presentation feels too calculated and too cute. And it's a damn easy hook. Why am I reading this again?

I’ll deal with an authorial voice of dubious sincerity, (or morality, sanity, whatever), but something - the prose, the insight, the weird perspective - something must make up the difference. I guess I don’t feel like this piece came that far, or cared to. It drew many glances.
posted by kid ichorous at 6:53 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


What I read sounds like a well-dressed, educated woman writer at a (mundane) gun club using the weird epithet "Brown" in hyperbolic jest; she later admits that she could never be identified as anything but Asian, and these are, she admits again, two different things.

she actually said he would never guess she was black, which she is, half (I went to her profile - half asian, half black). "brown" is a self-identifier that many medium-skinned non-whites use when "black" doesn't quite fit, "white" definitely doesn't fit, and "mixed" just doesn't feel right. I am acquainted with both african american and latino people who describe themselves as "brown."

here's the quote:

"I am sure he thought I was Asian. An Asian-American not an Asian immigrant and I’m certain he did not think I was black. How different would his interaction with me have been depending on how he perceived my ethnicity?"

see, I think she's mainly writing for her regular readers, who know she's asian and black, and who know what brown means, because a lot of them are brown. and what she's asking is, how would the 17-year-old white boy deal with me if he knew I was black (that is, looked more like a white persons idea of a black person)?

and it doesn't take too much imagination to understand that people would have probably behaved a lot differently.
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:24 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Danila, that was an excellent comment. I hadn't realized that I might be contributing to squashing the very idea of M2M1 by arguing that there were other ways of interpreting her experience. So, thank you for that. I see this happen all the time, and it bugs me--especially since my wife is usually the one with more "right" to make decisions and spend money than I am.

I usually deal with the M2M thing by looking the salesperson (or whoever) in the eye and saying, "She's the one you should be talking to." If they persist in talking to me and ignoring her, we ask for a different clerk or we leave. This works fucking wonders with car sales people. They see their commission evaporate in a cloud of sexist assumptions. If enough people do this, I think a real change could be made.

But for those of us in "gun culture"2, sexism simply doesn't seem like the obvious rationale in this instance. Instead, she sounded more like somebody who was slumming it, had contempt for the activity, and then was pissed when the dude at the range picked up on this and ignored her. If a black woman went to a punk rock show, dressed in nice, clean officewear, stood around with a sour look on her face, and then got ignored or ridiculed by the punks, I'd find it difficult to believe that sexism or racism was the issue. Instead, I'd ascribe the reaction to the general resentment any subculture feels toward unenthusiastic tourists.

If her blog post had been about how excited and enthusiastic she was about shooting skeet, and how much she'd been looking forward to it beforehand, and she still got snubbed... well, then I'd immediately agree that the issue was one of M2M.

One other, marginally related thing:

Some people pointed out that the range kid's behavior could also be explained by a warped sense of courtesy, in not talking to another man's woman. This is then immediately shouted down as sexist, since it's tied into the assumption that women are property or lack agency. Of course it's sexist.

But the problem is that one needn't be sexist himself to be cautious with regards to other people's partners. I don't personally think there's any reason not to talk to attached women, and do so all the time; but there are still plenty of men who do see every other male as a threat. Despite my personal belief that women are not property, nor do they lack agency, I've been physically threatened for daring to speak to a woman who was on a date--including an incident where a fellow indicated that he had a pistol, and verbally threatened to use it.

While it's decidedly unlikely that anybody's going to get in a gun fight at a shooting range (I've never heard of such a thing), people do get injured and killed over this shit in real life.


1. I hate this term. It means 'machine to machine [communication]" in my world. And it has sexual connotations as well.

2. I hate that term, too. My political similarities to the person in the next shooting lane are about the same as my similarities to the person in the next check out aisle. The only things we're sure to agree on are shooting related, just as the only things I'm certain to agree on with the other R/C hobbiests are airspace-regulation related.

posted by Netzapper at 7:35 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Holy shit. What a terrible story.
posted by kid ichorous at 7:42 PM on April 16, 2010


Yes, that is a horrific story, gave me the shivers. What I'd like to see is a society in which the men who behave aggressively because they treat women like property are the ones who are marginalized. This means tearing down all aspects of macho dominance and really the entire notion that any people should be dominant over another.

But the problem is that one needn't be sexist himself to be cautious with regards to other people's partners.

While I personally think it is very difficult to find a 17 year old male in this society who is not sexist, it really doesn't matter. The actions can be sexist, regardless of the intent. The blogger never called the guy sexist (or racist). She spoke about his actions as a "habit" that needed to be called out. Whether the habit stems from misplaced notions of "chivalry" or apprehension over the way the other man might respond, it still renders her invisible. Placing the feelings and reactions of men over those of women is sexist. She went on to her discuss her responsibility with regard to calling out sexist actions and asserting her right to be treated like a person rather than an afterthought. I don't agree with everything she says (for example, I don't think you can escape this sort of chicanery by being around "progressive men"). But I do think she was treated in a marginalized fashion. Rudeness is a way of asserting dominance, and as I said, this pattern of dominance in interaction is the problem.

I was thinking that a corollary to the phenomenon she describes is being ignored when you're not with a man that people can focus on. This is especially the case if you are a racial or ethnic minority and/or if you are not conventionally attractive.
posted by Danila at 8:12 PM on April 16, 2010


I'm glad this is spurring some discussion. I believe there are MANY instances of "sudden invisibility" where someone addresses strangers and purposefully or unconsciously excludes other present people from the conversation. It's always a good thing to realize that this does happen, that I may do it too, and keep conscious of that when I'm interacting with new people.

I'm a woman, and I have experienced this ---- not all the time, not among younger people, and not among fellow cartoonists/artists. Retail people do it the most often, sometimes my landlord (who is the nicest guy) does it to me too - my boyfriend and I will be standing next to each other, I'll talk to him, and he'll address 95% of his remarks to my boyfriend. My high school friend watched in bemusement while a waiter at a diner literally stepped over 12 women to hand him the check where he was sitting at the back of a table.

I should note that when my boyfriend / other male friend isn't with me and I'm on my own - people who normally do this do talk directly to me. And I've actually noticed instances where (esp. women) servers make a point to put the check directly between my boyfriend and me.

I propose that in many (but not all) social circumstances (mostly with non-friends) --- women are expected to take more of a supportive role in conversation and not a leading one. Men are more likely to tell stories, wait to be asked questions, etc etc. In my experience, when a woman asserts herself in the conversation, it often ends up fine - she tells jokes, stories etc. Sometimes (mostly at work), it falls flat, but it depends on the other talkers.

It can be a class thing - I notice that at my job, most people never ever talk to the mail people, construction workers, maintenance staff - they accept their services but don't really "see" them. There are a select few who are friends with all these people, know them by name, ask how they're doing, shoot the shit, etc, but it's painfully awkward for most others. That's another kind of invisibility.

People do this to old people, to people with developmental disabilities, to people with other disabilities, to people who look foreign ... etc etc etc.

A friend was at a party in Canada where a First Nations person was attending and everyone was standing clumped in a loose circle, talking. She was next to this person, looked at the geometry of the conversation and realized the entire talking circuit awkwardly bypassed this woman. She turned to her right and they started talking, drawing her into the conversation - she told me that simply turning around and altering the flow of conversation was a revelation - it was such a simple act and such a powerful one.

Obviously this doesn't ALWAYS happen, obviously this depends a lot on the context and the individuals involved. Just be conscious that this is something that DOES happen.

Notice how you interact with people. That's the best good that come out of this discussion - notice how your actions affect others. And if you didn't know about this stuff happening before, now you do.
posted by Geameade at 8:30 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


For the record, I think the article was poorly written, over dramatic and polarizing. But I'm guessing it probably happened like she said, I doubt she was acting pissed off and mean enough to be ignored.
posted by delmoi at 9:02 PM on April 16, 2010


The linked blogpost and some of the responses annoyed me enough that I'm having a hard time formulating a response that's inside the bounds of my rules for internet civility. There seems to be an impulse to dismiss the blogger's experience of how men speak around/over the heads of women, in part because she's mildly hostile to gun culture. We get a lot of picking apart personal blog posts that get linked on Metafilter (the recent United vs wheelchair user post comes to mind) because they're not written the way some fraction of the Metafilter audience seems to think they ought to be.

The truth of the matter is that most people don't write blog posts or livejournal posts for the consumption of Metafilter. Their writing pitch is to their expected audience, which is a group of their friends, acquaintences, and e-quaintances that's more likely to number in the low dozens than in the neighborhood of the 100K members Metafilter can point at a post to review and critique. These folks who are writing for their friends aren't necessarily interested in writing a perfectly objective story; they might be writing based on various assumptions (e.g., assuming readers know the writer's race) or just ranting because they're hacked off and want to talk about the subject of their rantings with their friends.

Metafilter is always collectively pleased and proud when some writer whose project has been linked here comes to comment on whatever post pointed to their site. I hope neither this blogger nor the disabled woman who got into it with United ever shows up here to comment on their posts; these comment threads don't show Metafilter at its best. And I really hope nobody on Metafilter ever links to something I write in my livejournal. After reading the hostile reactions in this thread and others like it, my first impulse would be to lock the post.

(For the record, I'm meh about the post, have experienced the phenomenon, and am unmoved by the distress of the defenders of range culture. FIAMO. Her being prejudiced against you doesn't mean she's wrong about the rest of it.)
posted by immlass at 10:23 PM on April 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think everyone has experienced this at some point or another. To be fair, I interpreted a lot of these asides in the post as her poking fun at herself - "so I wouldn't die" is pretty clearly not to be taken literally.

She did engage in a lot of mind-reading. The guy at the range could have been thinking any number of things (anything from "I don't think someone like you should be here" to "pretty lady, don't say anything stupid, don't say anything stupid", to "she looks like she wants to be left alone", or "don't know how to interact with someone like this, do know how to interact with the guy...path of least resistance", or even "I shouldn't presume to tell her what to do, just because she doesn't look like the usual customers, let her take the lead"). Possibly he didn't consciously decide anything at all, and fell back on his social default interaction.

But once you stick in assumptions about "this habit", and "once a person has decided" it changes the portrayal. I'm not saying she ought to be charitable, or that it's a tone problem. I have plenty of times when I characterise the people I interact with as "inveterate wankers" rather than independent actors with their own agendas and lives and feelings - you've got to do it. It might be a habit, and it might have been a decision, or there could have been lots of other things going on there.

This being 2010, I'd love to see his point of view on the same interaction. I could imagine that being an awkward conversation - "so, I wrote about your sexist behaviour on my blog...".

Anyhow, this happens to me often enough, usually I just try to make it explicit "She knows about cars, I know they have four wheels, so I'll go get drinks, what'll you have?". No way would I have had the confidence to talk like that at 17 though.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 2:31 AM on April 17, 2010


It seems to me that her male friend is the person who is really ignoring her.
posted by inconsequentialist at 4:08 AM on April 17, 2010


Well, the make friend certainly was in a position where he could have corrected the issue, by nudging the young instructor back towards the author, who was the one shooting and from the sound of it really in need of more instruction than she got. It's strange/interesting that he didn't; to me it implies that he (the friend) was just as clueless about the behavior as the instructor.

I think what happened was a failure of assertiveness all around. The kid didn't address the woman because that's not a socially safe thing to do in lots of contexts when you're the non-dominant male, and instead just addressed the other guy. The friend either didn't notice what was happening, or noticed but didn't do anything about it. And the woman realized what was happening, was rightly offended, but didn't say anything, so it's entirely possible all the other actors had (and still have) no idea that they did anything wrong.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:08 AM on April 17, 2010


I think what happened was a failure of assertiveness all around.

I would agree with you except:

The default recipient of normal attention (ie: customer service, respect, deference) is the white man. The othered person is the brown woman. It's true that if you want better treatment than you're currently getting, you have to ask for it. But that doesn't mean it's right.
posted by toodleydoodley at 9:32 AM on April 22, 2010


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