Thursday, July 26, 2012

Overheard on Eff Bee

I have a complicated extended family, and one of the folks in there is, well, I'll call him Joe.

We're Eff Bee "friends."  And basically, I think he's a good guy.  He's a year or so out of high school, somewhat attending a community college and working part time.  He's had a tough life.  I don't underestimate that.  Living 2k miles distant, I don't know him well.

But sometimes, holy cow, sometimes he puts stuff up on Eff Bee and I want to smack him.

Recently, for example, he posted that he didn't know what the big deal about Sally Ride was, but that he felt bad for the men who hadn't gotten to go into space because she got special treatment.  And his cohort friends chimed in and said, yes, they agreed, who cared what gender someone was, there's no difference, but women and LGBT people shouldn't get preferential treatment and so on.

It's a good reminder to me because many of my students have similar attitudes: they think the world doesn't need feminism, doesn't need social justice, and that white men are hugely discriminated against. 

It's not all of them, of course, but a lot of them.  And, of course, my generation was as poor at realizing how important WWII was for their parents, and at had a habit of thinking we were the center of the world.

One interesting part is that they do take a lot of things for granted.  They may complain that LGBT folks get preferential treatment, but they don't use homophobic or derogatory language.   They may think that racism is over, but they don't use derogatory labels, and the avatars of Joe's friends suggest his is a more multi-racial crowd that the Eff Bee pictures of my friends would suggest about me.

But, then, he always assumes that when a woman gets a job, it's because a better qualified man didn't.  And there's this sense that men, because they're men, are always better qualified.  And the female friends don't seem to dispute that at all.  (But then, I'll acknowledge that I don't tend to comment to on Eff Bee in response to him.  It's complicated.)


  1. Anonymous1:05 PM

    On what planet does one assume that a woman going into space means men didn't get to? That's some majorly twisted thinking going on there...

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Oh, yes. Like the fellow who confronted me when I was hired in the early nineties to angrily explain that my only qualification was that I was a woman. . . .

    Sally Ride was a kick-ass physicist and more than qualified for NASA. But you're right that some people will just see that she's a woman and refuse to accept that she was a 'real' astronaut.

  4. When I encounter men who make the claim that white men are discriminated against, I say, "No longer receiving preferential treatment is NOT the same as being discriminated against."

    I often have to say it twice.

  5. Janice, or that it is important that she was the first woman to earn a spot on a space shot in the US after decades of discrimination!

    Bethany, that's genius! I hope you'll let me borrow it!