Re: META: Neanderthal Attitudes

Kathryn Aegis (
Wed, 08 Sep 1999 18:17:42

Elizabeth Childs writes:
>I was one of the people who vented to Kathryn about some of the recent
>comments about women. (I'm not leaving, though.)

Thank you, Elizabeth, for speaking your mind. I hope that you didn't think I was trying to 'out' you! It's just that it has reached a point where some people think I will speak for all the women, which is not a role I would like to assume. We have enough people perporting to speak for us as it is....

>I think it's easy to get the impression when someone posts something
>offensive, and almost no one responds, that the whole list agrees with them.
>In fact, the rest of the list is either killfiling them or blowing past the
>posts to talk about something more interesting.

Agreed. It is difficult to know whether a response is merited, if only for the reason that persons actually conduct research using the archives.

>My objections to the recent postings were twofold: One, women were being
>discussed very negatively as though they were not even present, and two,
>there was no scientific support for anything said. Saying "except a few
>women" doesn't make it less offensive.

Well said.

>I'm all for people bringing to light real evidence of gender
>differentiation, no matter how negative. For example, there's a fair amount
>of evidence that mathematical ability is, in fact, sex linked, and this
>probably accounts for the disproportionate number of men in mathematics and
>some of the hard sciences. But this statement is a conclusion
>derived from evidence, open to debate.

Actually, last year a study was released that showed a balancing of scores between young girls and boys, and the stated causality related to an earlier encouragement of mathemetical study for the girls. It is only in the past ten years that young girls have been encouraged in the direction of science and math. When I was in grade school, we were actively discouraged, to the point where my father purchased a microscope for me and turned me loose with it in the back yard.

>Until collaborative filtering is available, I think the best solution is
>killfiles, and help with killfiles for newbies.

This can work for some persons. I have never bozo filtered anyone or any topic, because I want to know where a given person stands on these topics. Sometimes a thread that I would label personally offensive turns into a thoughtful discussion of the topic.

I agree with Camille Paglia's contention that it is more useful to air this stuff so that it can be responded to, otherwise how will our public discourse ever develop past it? Unfortunately, the task of working through it can get dumped in the women's lap, with the perception that perhaps we are the best to do it. I appreciate the efforts of Spike, Chris Fedeli, and others to take up some of the work, and I have enjoyed reading their thoughtful commentary.

Kathryn Aegis