September 06, 2007


I have found that reading Backlash on the train in the morning will not make me arrive at work ready to be a cheerful, helpful secretary. It will make me look thoughtfully around my office and contemplate how it would be better if I took a crowbar to the nice reception desk and perched on top of the wreckage in my boots and tank top, accosting passersby with well-selected statistics and demanding to know what, precisely, they were doing to prevent the erosion of women's economic and social status by reactionary hysteria.

But I get paid for sitting properly at the intact desk and answering phone questions and nodding politely when faculty ask me to do things, whereas if I were to enact my beautiful fantasy I would get the opposite of paid. Economic necessity is a bugger.

Here is a fake hypothetical question: what would you do about someone who is friendly and fun to be around and then, out of nowhere, breathtakingly rude? And when confronted makes clear that s/he never thought of the breathtakingly rude thing as rude or even notable, and consequently has no intention of apologizing or behaving differently in future? I ask with the sneaking suspicion that I have been this person or someone comparable, and yet, the magic of empathy is failing to make clear to me the appropriate way of dealing with the situation from the other side. Anthropology geek says: indignation and the desire to see everything from other people's worldviews do not mix. Again, a bugger.

Posted by dianna at September 6, 2007 09:00 AM

Wait; is this fake hypothetical question fake because it's not hypothetical, or fake because it's not really a question? The former seems likely, but I'm not willing to rule out the latter and risk dispensing advice that isn't really asked for.

I will say, speaking from experience as the offendor in these sorts of situations, that this is the way things have usually played out:

1. I say something offensive to the offendee without realizing it.
2. The offendee gets upset and tells me about it.
3. I get angry and defensive because I didn't really mean to offend the offendee.
4. We have a huge argument over whether what I said was offensive. We stop talking to each other.
5. Several years later, I think back and realize that the offendee was right and what I said really was offensive. I feel bad about it, but now it's too late.

So it's a good thing that I'm not answering your pseudo-hypothetical quasi-question, because I don't have any useful answer to give.

Posted by: MoltenBoron at September 6, 2007 03:39 PM

That scenario is illuminating and applicable to quite a lot of my own encounters on both sides, but I'm not sure it meets my stringent criteria for "breathtakingly rude". I mean, fighting over whether something's offensive at least indicates some degree of engagement with the subject. Ignoring the offended party's injured WTF-ing until it's possible to gloss over it and change the subject is far worse in my book.

You are correct in that my question is not actually hypothetical. It is actually a question.

Posted by: Dianna at September 6, 2007 04:49 PM

I don't know about the universe and harm reduction. I like to view the universe as a half-naked cackling madman, leaping out from behind bushes shouting "expect the unexpected!" whilst poking people with a stick.

In other news, if you have not reviewed the KNG page since your posting, you should (check the archives). I'm not sure if it was you who replied, but the conspicuous usage of the em-dash arouses suspicion. Apparently the OKMDFC is a veritable rogues gallery of anonymous shady characters.

Posted by: Elliot at September 7, 2007 01:33 AM

In yet other news, I commented on the wrong post.

Posted by: Elliot at September 7, 2007 01:34 AM

Yep, you sure did.

I have indeed checked said page, and you are correct about my em-dashy posting. Why is the em-dash conspicuous? I would have thought my identifying punctuation mark would be the semicolon; I'm the only one I know who not only drops it into casual written language but also thinks it in spoken conversation.

Posted by: Dianna at September 7, 2007 08:44 AM

Naught does flame desire's heart as well-conceived punctuation mark.

Posted by: Elliot at September 7, 2007 11:44 AM

I agree that the post was fairly obvious, but in what I would consider a completely indescribable way. It was not the em dash itself, it was not the "sir," nor was it the fact that you came up with that ridiculous yet plausible acronym. But somehow all the elements combined to give off a strong and quite indistinguishable snarkiness that could be from none other than Dianna.

Posted by: lisa at September 7, 2007 01:17 PM

I beg your distinctively-punctuated pardon -- the acronym was not my doing. It was first used by the person complaining of the lack of membership cards (who I strongly suspect of being Ping) and used again by the bingo-and-newsletter person (who I strongly suspect of being Elliot and wouldn't, in any case, have been me with a comma splice like that). I merely followed what was by that point established custom.

The snarkiness, though, I will gladly take credit for.

Posted by: Dianna at September 7, 2007 02:27 PM

TouchÃ. And very likely correct on both counts of suspicion.

Posted by: lisa at September 7, 2007 04:25 PM

How far into Backlash are you? Have you gotten through the chapter on films yet?

Posted by: MoltenBoron at September 8, 2007 11:26 AM

Negative; I'm still on Backlashes Then And Now. Give me another couple of train rides and I'll get there. Also, probably if I'm to have much reading time someone should probably break my bike again so I don't start riding it to work.

Posted by: Dianna at September 9, 2007 02:26 PM