Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

Removing the “Guy Time” Post

Posted by Gerald on April 20, 2008

Some have argued that rational thought makes us human, others that it is the capacity to feel love, or to use tools, or to exist in a world of meaning.  All of these have some validity.  However, I’d like to make another contribution to that list.

The desire, need, and ability to occasionally edit makes us human.

For the first time in the year – roughly – that I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve decided to remove a post.  I removed “Guy Time” because after reading Bridgett’s comment I started to realize that it was a bad piece of writing.  It didn’t really capture the events I was relating or my ideas about them so much as the generally foul mood I was in as I wrote the post.  The foul mood was mostly a result of a bad night’s sleep combined with hay fever and an end-of-the-semester case of ennui.

In the post I tried to tell about something that was actually quite funny at the time.  As I’ve mentioned before, all of my colleagues in the social science department are women.  One of those women had a birthday this week.  We are a pretty tight group and we always do departmental lunches to celebrate such things.

The location for this lunch was suddenly changed on Friday morning to “Miss Rose’s Tea Room” – and not at the request, or even with the knowledge of, the guest of honor.  I began theatrically, and loudly, complaining about this as an assault on my manhood.  My colleagues found this hysterical, so it became the running joke of the morning.

I work with a group of strong and confident women who trust me enough to be pretty open and relaxed around me.  They also constantly rib me about this stuff – everything from talking about how “Gerald’s gone to his ‘happy place'” when the conversation turns to birth complication horror stories to calling me the “pimp daddy” of the department and referring to “Gerald and his Ho’s”

Just as an aside: I NEVER say any of the stuff about “pimps” and “ho’s”.  To this I attribute the continuing good will of my co-workers and, indeed, my ongoing survival.  A little lesson to some of my white male brethren who might not have figured this out – history being what it has been, there are some jokes we do not get to make.

Pressing onward with the story – we went to lunch.  The venue was very “Steel Magnolias” and the owner laughed loudly when she heard me tell the others that I might forgive them eventually for bringing me here.  That got a solid laugh, but I judged that at that point the joke was wearing out, so I just dropped it.  Lunch was fine, if a bit pricey.

Afterwards we went back to campus and immediately into our division’s annual program review session – powerpoints, enrollment levels, what did we accomplish this year, what should we do next year, etc…  It was in the course of this that the grandmother of the division, an elderly English instructor with the kind of wicked sense of humor you only develop by successfully living a life, inadvertently referred to the “history ladies”.  Almost immediately she caught that and started to offer an apology.  I had immediately crossed gazes with Allison, my history colleague, and we were both already snickering since this fit so well into the morning’s jokes.  Even those who didn’t know about that caught the minor faux pas and the room started erupting in laughter.  I loudly protested, “See – ONE trip to the tea room and look what happens!!!”  Everyone laughed and then we finished the meeting.

As one would expect, I kept hearing about this all afternoon.  I think that was where the trouble began.

I was tired and increasingly uncomfortable (sinus headache) as the day went on.  With each mention by someone who wasn’t there, what had been funny started to seem irritating.  Still, I knew it was just me feeling out of sorts, so I dutifully chuckled and kept my mouth shut.  Right up until the blog post, when what started as a story turned into a rant.

In the course of that rant, I said something about the culture wanting me to be ashamed of being male.  Bridgett rightly called me on this, asking if I really thought there was an “attack on maleness” in the dominant culture.  I don’t.  What I was thinking about at that moment was the nearly universal depiction of men in sitcoms as horny sports-obsessed morons and how that doesn’t fit me, my late father, or any of my male friends.  Still, I don’t really see an attack on “maleness” there.  If anything, this probably serves to excuse bad behavior as a kind of cultural reinforcement of “boy will be boys.”

I think that, like a lot of men with my level of education and set of beliefs about gender, I am sometimes caught between being comfortable enough with WHO I am but somewhat ambivalent about what it means to be WHAT I am.  Call it white male liberal guilt if you are feeling dismissive.  I’ve learned there is patriarchy and, wittingly or not, I’ve benefited from it.  I’ve learned there is a racial hierarchy and, wittingly or not, I’ve benefited from it.  I cannot divorce myself from the historical context any more than anyone else can.  That is what I am.  Integrating that awareness into who I am and being able to live with the result is an ongoing issue for me, and I’d be willing to bet I’m not alone in that.

So, in a supreme moment of “crotchetiness” I got into the written equivalent of that point in a verbal argument where you stop trying to be reasonable and you just start venting.  My purpose in writing this blog is mostly selfish.  It is a modernist journal.  When inspired to write, I write.  Then I do minor copy-editing and I hit “publish”.  This is as close as I get to an act of spontaneous creativity.  I had to think all night before pulling the “Guy Time” post because it seems to violate that.  On the other hand, I’ve not written another post that I looked at later and really felt didn’t represent me, even my flaws, in an accurate way.  It was intellectually sloppy.  I don’t think that is me.

So I pulled it and I’m still not sure I did the right thing.

Advertisements

8 Responses to “Removing the “Guy Time” Post”

  1. Leslie said

    hmm. reading this mostly makes me want to reread the original post and see Bridgett’s comment. Neither of which, of course, is accessible to me any more.

    I did read the post earlier, albeit rather quickly. I remember being slightly taken aback, especially by the “attack on maleness” comment and by the presence of an edge to your tone that I hadn’t really heard before. But, I wrote it off to pretty much what you seem to be attributing it to here: a bad day, humor and forbearance worn thin by repetition, and a need to vent escalating into hyperbole.

    This version is certainly funnier (to me at least). Also more rational and dispassionate and less personal and emotional. I honestly don’t know whether that’s a good think or not. (Oops. Totally unintentional typo there, but I’ll let it stand because it’s so apropos.) You can think about it and interpret it and understand all the aggravating factors more subtly in hindsight, but at the core of it is what it feels like to be the odd one out in a group and to have that fact be a constant source of public attention and humor. And what I got from the first version was a visceral sense that while it’s usually fine, sometimes it really hits a nerve.

  2. bridgett said

    It’s your blog, hon. If you can’t vent in your own space, then why have a space to write? Write what you feel like and if you want to pull it later, pull it. I’ve pulled posts that I needed to write at the time but that I thought would be hurtful to any family member that found them retrospectively. Momentary impulses sometimes need to be written about but not saved. WordPress is a lot cheaper than therapy.

    I’m sorry this distressed you. I interpreted it for what it was, which was a “dagnabit, where’s the time to be a guy — not a stupid butt of the joke where all the kids are smarter than you guy or the controlling jerk guy or the sports guy or the pedantic knowitall tune out women when they talk guy or whatall — but a guy like I am, just like I am, with other guys like I am.” I just think it’s an easy slide between saying “hey, see, look how I am being harmed by the operations of patriarchy when I’m supposed to be its prime benefactor and isn’t it crappy that there are such limited roles that we’re supposed to inhabit when they all fit like too-small shoes” and saying “our culture wants me to be ashamed of being a man.” They proceed from the same impulse, but one is a statement of solidarity with women and an acknowledgement of our mutual entanglement in a suffocating system of gender typologies and the other is a statement of hostility against a “feminizing” culture. Knowing you as I do, I thought that you were probably just tired and wearing your crankypants — and that when you thought about it, you’d probably not agree that there was a society-wide attack on masculinity afoot.

  3. bridgett said

    Oh, and the vote on Women’s Studies as a legitimate discipline worthy of inclusion in our Gen Ed curriculum? 68-34 against…another courageous, progressive example of curricular leadership on the part of our faculty.

  4. bridgett said

    I forgot to mention that the central arguments advanced against the proposal was that a) Women’s Studies isn’t a real academic discipline (you know, besides all those grad programs cranking out PhDs, the peer-reviewed journals, the national and international conferences, the books and articles, the 89,000 US students who take our classes each year in nearly 800 colleges…) and b) history, political science, anthropology, sociology, economics, and geography aren’t really social sciences.

    Yes, these are the type of people I’m dealing with. Totally wack. Sometimes places wind up with the curriculums they deserve. And they wonder why our enrollment is dropping more quickly than can be explained by economic factors.

  5. Gerald said

    Wow.

    That is just nuts. I take it that this was a vote of the whole faculty? What sort of gender breakdown do you have there?

    It might inform some of my earlier comments if I mentioned that our college president, vice-president, and most of the administrative directors directors are female. Maybe half of the Associate Deans are women. My Dean is a man but two of the three department chairs who report to him are women. I’m just saying that when I was whining about guy time, I am working in a sort of small matriarchy inside the Patriarchy.

    Of course, the fact that community college faculty earn about 75% of what four-year college faculty with similar degrees earn might be tied up in all of that.

    How does the “argument b)” part fit in? Also, I’m curious – if SOCIOLOGY isn’t a “social science” according to them, what is?

  6. bridgett said

    Well, sociology is when men do it (in the sociology department) but not when women do it (in Women’s Studies). Ditto for anthropology — the whole one sad class that we offer. I’m still pissed. It was the best attended faculty meeting in years and still only about half our faculty showed up.

    Our administration is overwhelmingly male. The full professors are mostly male. The School of Math and Sciences is mostly male and that’s where “social science” is housed adminstratively, despite us having social scientists all over campus scattered over all four schools. But you know, when you’re housed in the School of Arts and Humanities because some Provost in 1990 decided to shotgun the Social Sciences Division because they led a nearly successful union drive…and further, when your President and other administrators have made a lovely career for themselves of pitting “the schools” against one another in competition for artificially scarce resources, well…you see how that is. As a member of the School of Arts and Humanities (which has no intellectual rationale behind the groupings of disciplines), social scientists (especially women) are magically transformed into fluffy bunnies or poems about snowflakes because we can’t possible possess hard data and analytic rigor and several other laughable penile substitutes. Or it might just be because this particular group of people wouldn’t know social science from a bucket of cold water. I have been thinking about it some more and I’m reaching the conclusion that I might just be working with idiots. I don’t know what that says about me that I’ll probably make a career here.

    We have a predominantly female faculty but they are a) mostly timid and conflict-averse; b) provincially trained (many of them are lifetime residents of Albany, Saint Rose undergrads who went as far away as UAlbany, a whole 3 miles up the road, and then came right back to Saint Rose to teach — and so they feel very passionately opposed to any change to their alma mater and have little grasp of or interest in national scholarly life; c) religiously conservative (though they mostly are New York machine politics Democrat, either Italian or Irish); and d) just smart enough to realize that the way to hang onto whatever funky little bit of power they have requires a high degree of solidarity with what the boys want. The more ambitious they are and the more they want to get into administration, the more aggressive and anti-feminist in practice they get.

    Our salaries suck too. We’re in the bottom quartile of AAUP 4-year schools.

  7. Gerald said

    We have a somewhat similarly bizarre organization here.

    The big thing in two-year schools is the split between programs intended for college transfer (basically, Associate in Arts or Associate in Science degrees) and other diploma and certificate programs that can be completed here (everything from auto mechanics to zoo and aquarium sciences).

    For reasons that probably have to do with current fashion at the U.S. Department of Education we just split the Arts and Sciences division up. Math and Science went over to join the technical and engineering programs to create the “STEM” (science, technology, engineering, and math) division. I am DELIGHTED that the social sciences were not deemed worthy of this crew since their interim dean is the guy who used to run the automotive program. I won’t say anything more in a public venue.

    So, the bleeding remnants of the old A&S Division are now the Division of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. The only thing we really have in common is that we aren’t math or (“real”) science. We do all teach – mostly – college transfer, but so do the science and math folks who were just moved off.

    We had a debate over the new name for the division. I suggested the Division of Rhetorical Sciences (which I actually think was valid.) Since I’m the only certificate-bearing rhetorician around, I thought that might land me in the proverbial cat-bird seat. No sale. My other idea was the Sociology, History, English, Multicultural, and Psychology – or “SHEMP” – Division. That got rejected too.

    My contributions are simply not appreciated here.

  8. imfunny2 said

    (taking time off in the middle of an asthma attack to think)

    It’s troubling numbers like Bridgetts comment above, and Gerald’s picture of his own faculty further downthread that made me think, first…’What? ‘Women’ can’t ‘study’ or something? and then honestly being glad that I haven’t taken that road I thought I was supposed to take, because I would have thrown crutches made a scene and been summarily dismissed at some faculty meeting around 1998, somewhere if I’d gotten the Phd and ended up at a place like either of these. I can’t ‘play nice’ well enough with wrongheaded people…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: