30 April, 2012  |   11 Comments

Knowledge and the ladies

Craft time

The more I read the internet,
the more I see that knowledge isn’t knowledge,
like it used to be.

Facts aren’t held in an encyclopedia set on the bookshelf.
Instead, knowledge about a topic is developed through debate.

Someone posts an idea, someone disagrees with it.
More evidence is presented, opinions are lobbied back and forth and everyone comes out the better for it.

Except the ladies.

Saturday afternoon

You may not have been raised in a culture that taught that if you are to be a good girl, a successful girl, you must first and foremost be an agreeable girl.

You may not have had the kind of childhood I did, where I learned to make everyone happy lest I set him off again.

So now I seek consensus in all things.
Without consensus, I feel that terrifying flutter that things are going to get out of hand and I’m headed to get hit and I won’t be liked anymore.


But as I see more and more knowledge centered around debate.
And more women raised to avoid debate.
I fear that we’re getting left behind when it comes to the current version of knowledge.

Disagreement isn’t ladylike.
Arguing is likely to get you shunned.
Dissension isn’t desirable in females.

Hey hey hey!
So, how do I raise my daughters to feel okay arguing?
Get better at arguing myself.

How do I get my friends to hold differing opinions?
Be more of a Cowboy than an Octopus.

How do I jump into a comment thread and feel comfortable sharing my opinion, my facts, while knowing that UR A FAT WHORE will probably be my punishment?
Just typing that made me feel foolish. I’m far more grown up than this. Why are these pixels scaring me?

It’s been easier to avoid commenting.
But if I’m getting left out on where knowledge lives, I’d better steel (gird?) my loins and jump in.

If I see someone shaming another woman for being disagreeable, I’ll point it out.
I’ll talk about it.
“She’s actually making us all smarter.”

If I want to raise little fighters,
little smartypants,
smarter ladypants,
I better be better at defending my opinion.

A challenge to me,
it seems silly really,
but I’m challenging myself to comment something that might not be popular with other commenters on a particular thread.

I’m not going out of my way to pick fights, but I want to overcome that natural inertia to not join the conversation, even if I can’t go with the most popular opinion.

I’m sure YOU have no problem with this stuff.
You enjoy hearty debate,
nigh invigorated with disagreement.

But it’s hard for me.
Which means it’s probably important.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Whale Shark

11 thoughts on “Knowledge and the ladies

  1. 1
    sweetney says:

    I just wish I could hug you RIGHT. NOW.

  2. 2
    May says:

    Yup, it’s hard for me, too. In real life and on the internet. But I want my girl to speak up, so I guess I have to, too.

  3. 3
    Jenny Lauck says:

    Oh. Oh. This made my heart hurt a bit. I’m raising two daughters and a son, all of whom will argue their point of view exhaustively, with relish and spirit. I’ve found myself wishing for biddable, mild, consensus-seeking kids, but at the same time, I not-so-secretly enjoy their passion and bravery. Even when they are wrong (ha!) Kindness is required, consensus isn’t, at least not in our house.

  4. 4
    sugarleg says:

    elegant and smart post. I do disagree with one bit though… I think we are at the beginning of a VERY exciting time for women to jump in, speak up, agree, disagree, debate, exchange, dissent, ascend, cheer, inspire, correct, respect and commune. I’m thinking of the recent fake controversies that have been stirred up by corporations, media, politicians and the powerful like defunding Planned Parenthood, Koman aligning with anti-woman agendas, Sandra Fluke being called a slut, and worst of, women fighting against each other in the tired argument of stay at home moms vs working moms vs non-moms. WE ARE SMARTER AND MORE POWERFUL THAN THIS. and when we stick together, we stand up to these bullies and win. our daughters, nieces, students, mentees, sisters, friends and female colleagues all know it too. let’s talk about it!! 🙂

  5. 5
    Leahpeah says:

    I like you. Like, a lot.

  6. 6
    Alexandra says:

    Oh, my gosh: if only I could have said it this way.

    Yes, the cost of disagreement: you get slammed, cold shouldered. And then a little mini army is sent out to shout out how YOU’RE WRONG and DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT.

    Happened to me, and I don’t think I’ll put my toes back into that black lake.

    This was wonderful.

    So happy I followed your tweet here. Thanks for tweeting it out.

  7. 7
    Murdz says:

    wonderful post, thanks for talking about this topic!

  8. 8
    Pam says:

    I learned to argue at synagogue.

    THERE’S one for ya.

    As jews, and in our religious education, we are taught to question and argue against the beliefs, so that when it comes time to publicly “confirm” them, we really mean it.

    So, all through my childhood I was taught to question and argue, but not fight, and reason and reason some more. Didn’t hurt that was my nature to begin with. 🙂

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