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Posts Tagged ‘irrationality’

… I ran into a charming mansplainer this week.

I have just acquired a new computer for work, so I thought I should go best practice and get some surge protection, too.

I dropped into my local hardware store a couple of weeks ago, and was shocked at the price difference between the top and bottom ends. The specs on these things are not very clear, and so I couldn’t figure out whether it was worth paying extra or not. So I asked someone.

The someone I asked was a big burly bloke who seemed to know what he was talking about. He was absolutely adamant that I needed to buy the surge protector at the top end, and his explanation made some sense. He was a little condescending, but I’m so used to that that I ignore it, as long as the information is useful. But I am always suspicious about people who try to sell me the most expensive item in the store, so I decided to think about it.

I had some time this week, so I went back to the same shop and asked another person. The someone I asked this time was a short burly bloke, maybe 18 or 20 (ie significantly younger than me, and nobody ever thinks I’m younger than I am), who in a blusteringly condescending tone gave me the exact opposite advice the first man had given me – but who couldn’t explain why, just said with a patronising sneer: “you don’t need that”. Let’s call him Condescending Fool.

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Shorter Amy Alkon: I didn’t get to scream in public when I was a child, so neither should anyone else.

SRSLY.

Of course, Ms Alkon is basing this on her recollection. I’m sure that, like most people, she doesn’t remember very much before the ages of 4 or 5, probably not daily events even after those ages, and I’d be fairly surprised if she didn’t do her share of screaming in public at age approximately 2. But even if she’s right and she never did, she clearly doesn’t understand the concepts of “community” and “family” and “parents having a life even when they have small children”.

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There is a homeless guy who sits outside my building every morning. He says g’day to the people he recognises. I always say good morning. I’ve noticed other people sometimes stop to chat at length. He begs. Lately, he’s been getting a bit more insistent on the begging front. I hope he’s doing ok.

This morning, after walking into the building, I got into the lift with an older man who I’ve seen quite a number of times around the building, but who I don’t actually know.

He turned to me, his eyes wide with horror and disgust. “Did you know that man out the front is a drug addict? He doesn’t have schizophrenia or anything … he injects drugs, methadone or something … I’ve just been to the pharmacist and they told me!”

Now, leaving aside the patient confidentiality issues with the pharmacist giving out that kind of information (and I am going to go and have a yell at the pharmacist later about that!), (1) methadone is not injected [ETA: well, I got that wrong – see Robbo’s comment below] (and if he’s on methadone, he doesn’t need money for it and also, it suggests he’s “doing something” about his “problem”, which is what I assume people like my interlocutor want to happen); and (2) poor mental health, homelessness and drug use often go hand in hand. Oh, and (3) who the fuck are we to judge?

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Note: Thanks to Lauredhel for encouraging me to write this post; otherwise, it might have slipped through the cracks of “other priorities”.

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For various reasons – mostly because I seem to have a lot of friends who are doctors – I’ve had the opportunity to chat to a number of doctors, nurses and midwives about birth. Particularly topical at the moment is the home birth debate (as I’ve been drafting this post, I see that the government has announced that it will no longer be effectively prohibiting home birth, although it still won’t be supporting it).

All of the doctors with whom I have had the home birth vs hospital birth discussion have expressed a clear preference for hospital birth. This is not because they think hospitals are perfect – most of the doctors I know work in the (public!) hospital system, and are aware of at least some of the failures of that system. Similarly, the nurses and mid-wives that I’ve spoken to who work within the hospital system generally expressed a preference for hospital birth.

The reason for this near-universal preference is, I think, for two main reasons: (1) they spend more time with the births that go wrong (especially the doctors), and those stick in their minds, and (2) they are incredibly risk-averse.*

And fair enough, I say. However, I disagree with their assessment of risk.

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What I know about women…
Anthony Lapaglia on love and his 17 year relationship with Gia Carides.

When I saw the headline and the tagline on the SMH home page, I was willing to give Lapaglia credit and place all the blame on the subbies.

I then read the sexist joke with which the article commences, and was willing to put blame on the bloody journo who interviewed Lapaglia. But no, it turns out Lapaglia wrote the article himself, and it doesn’t exactly improve from that poor start.

The article is full of “my wife did this and so all women are like that”-type chauvinist generalisations. Worse: the way he describes his thought process makes it sound like he starts from a chauvinist assumption, and then his wife does something, which he interprets in a way consistent with the original assumption, thus backing up his sexism.

He may – repeat, may – know quite a bit about his wife and daughter (although given the sexist generalisations he makes in the article, it’s entirely possible they’ll turn around and surprise him one day).

However, there’s nothing in the article which convinces me that he knows anything about women in general.

I’d go further and say: on the assumption that he makes the same generalisations about men, there’s nothing in the article which convinces me that he knows anything about humans in general.

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In a post about how privilege can make someone less able to make decisions which take multiple angles into account (that precis doesn’t do it justice, so I recommend reading the whole thing!), Old Feminist said this:

That’s why Americans not speaking English, or “Black English,” is so threatening. If the white male experience isn’t universally understood, it loses a lot of its power.

I’d never quite managed to pinpoint why people in English-speaking countries are often so threatened by people speaking another language, and I think that pretty much pinpoints it.

I think there’s an obverse side to it, too: someone speaking another language really highlights that there is another experience other than the white male experience, and highlights FOR someone who only experiences the white male experience that they cannot understand another experience (at least, not without some effort).

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Not that that’s news, particularly.

Anyway, if this is true, it’s pretty awful: Karzai has reportedly signed a law that rolls back women’s rights.

Apparently, the law has not yet been published, but it is understood to contain (among other things) provisions that legalise rape within marriage and provisions that prevent women from leaving their home without their husband’s permission. One female MP, Senator Humaira Namati,

said the law was “worse than during the Taliban”. “Anyone who spoke out was accused of being against Islam,” she said.

(From the context, I take it she means that anyone who spoke out during the debates.)

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