First post in this series can be found here.
The third and final post in this series can be found here.
ScientistMother really wants DrugMonkey to step up to the plate already. She says that DM laid out his own responsibility to deal, on-blog, with work-life balance issues and to share the details of how it goes down at his own home. Find the full quote in the comments at her post or here in Doc Free-Ride's post.
As is generally the case, I have a few things to say about this.
For starters, I do not agree with ScientistMother's interpretation of that quote. I have no idea what DM had in mind, but I think you can read that quote as him talking about his IRL practices as a PI, and offering them as an example for how other male PIs could behave to create an environment that makes it more comfortable for females in and around their lab to combine parenthood with careers. This is consistent with the DM blog operation of offering advice on how to do the whole PI thing. I do not see anything in that quote to suggest that DM is laying down an imperative, for himself or other male science bloggers, to talk about personal domestic arrangements regarding work-life balance. That, in fact, would be entirely inconsistent with him not offering lots of personal information about himself on the blog - if, for no other reason, for purposes of protecting the pseud.
To go on from there: I feel a particular icky feeling whenever anyone tells any blogger "you MUST write about X!" for a coupla reasons. One, I've been on the receiving end of that statement a gazillion times myself and it's just ridiculous. Really? I must write about X? Hahahahahahahhaha! Any writer must write about whatever that writer must write about. You cannot choose a writer's subjects for her or him. How happy would ScientistMother be if I showed up on her blog and DEMANDED that she MUST write about native plant gardening? NOW! Because it is urgent that the people be informed! Seriously, I am very passionate about native plant gardening. It is an important topic. Why do you not share my passion and outrage? Why do you not drop what you are doing and BLOG THIS INSTANT ABOUT THE LOSS OF OUR NATIVE HABITAT AND THE NEED TO TURN OUR SUBURBAN LAWNS INTO NATIVE PLANT WILDLIFE REFUGES, DEAR GOD, THINK OF THE BIRDS!!!... But I digress.
It does behoove us all to think once in awhile about what forces shape our interests. It's at best disingenuous to say about an issue as gendered as work-life balance that you just don't want to talk about it, without thinking a bit about why that might be so. I mean, the vast majority of male science bloggers seem to find that there is nothing they need to say about balancing work and life, whereas a whole lotta female science bloggers seem to feel the opposite. These are not just random personal choices based upon What I Think My Spouse Might Feel If He/She Reads My Blog, or What I Find Personally Interesting Which Just Happens To Never Be Work-Life Balance And That Has Nothing To Do With Me Being A Man.
Please note, I am speaking about science bloggers who are men as a group. As a group, men science bloggers tend not to blog about work-life balance. You can certainly find a post here and there. What we do not know, about any individual male science blogger, is this: What is he doing besides blogging? Is he commenting on other blogs when work-life balance issues come up, maybe under a pseudonym or as anonymous? Is he reading and thinking and learning, but doesn't feel ready to comment or blog yet? Is he doing ally work in real life that we don't know about, and his blog is narrowly restricted to a certain set of topics that don't happen to include the particular work-life balance issues we might like to hear more male science bloggers talk about?
For any given male science blogger, there could be any one or several very valid reasons why he chooses not to blog about work-life balance (and other issues dear to our hairy-legged feminazi hearts). But is the issue even on the male science blogger radar screen as potentially blogworthy? When the answer is consistently "no" time after time, I think it's of interest to ask why. And it does seem more likely than not, that it is NOT on their radar screens at all, rather than that 99.9% of male science bloggers have given serious thought as to whether they should blog about work-life balance and finally concluded it just wasn't right for them right now, or didn't fit their narrow blog focus.
But let's say our hypothetical male science blogger has decided he must now jump into the fray, and begin blogging his little heart out about work-life balance. ScientistMother, or Isis, or me, or the whole feminist science castrating blogosphere has shamed him and in order to hold onto what's left of his dick, he will write A Post.
A post about balancing work and family. He will speak of laundry folded, dishes washed, diapers changed, lunchbags packed, domestic duties carefully negotiated with his better half. Then everyone will be all "Aww, a dude wrote about balancing career and family! That is so awesome! He is so progressive! Things are getting better!" Some women (and maybe even the man) will gnash their teeth in despair about how he reaps praise for speaking of doing that which is considered her duty, that which, when she speaks of doing it, leads to snide remarks about mommy bloggers in the comments section and at social media conferences for the sci-bloggy twitterati.
And THEN some shrill bitter feminazi like me will come along and point out how the dude gets it all wrong, or misses some important point, or just wants a cookie for doing what he should be doing anyway. And some portion of people will be all "that is so right! that dude thinks he deserves a medal because he changed a diaper once!" and some other portion of people will be all "it is caricature feminists like you who are ruining Feminism For Everyone!" And some tiny portion of people might read both the original post and the critique post and think about what was said in the OP and the critique and what it all means. But by then the blogosphere has swept on to the next thing, and our man will probably go back to SOP, which involves not writing about Official Ladee Stuff, like balancing work and family.
Even if fifty dudes got together and wrote A Post, on the same day, about balancing work and family, it would still be like that Special Section on The Rare and Strange Creatures Known as Women-in-Science published annually by Glamour Journal. "And now, we interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this special news bulletin...blah blah blah...gender...blah blah...work/life balance...blah blah blah...things are getting better...blah blah blah...Marie Curie reference....blah blah blah...young assistant professor with kids and supportive husband and cutting edge research program struggles to make it all work...blah blah blah...statistics....blah blah...useful websites...blah blah...things are getting better...blah blah blah...hire a housekeeper...blah blah blah...Now, back to our regularly scheduled program, presented to you in full from where we left off."
No, a handful of men science bloggers taking some personal inventory is not going to change institutional structure, even if it would feel personally supportive to the friends and/or readers of those men science bloggers. It is not paradigm shifting.
Looking at this as if it is something that requires us to speak from a deeply personal space, keeps this issue a personal one, and therefore really risks obscuring the politics that surround it. It keeps it an issue that "belongs" to women, who are the ones who "have the experience" and the "right" to talk about it, after suitably notifying the spouse - but he doesn't, because he doesn't "own" the experience the way she does, even if he asks nicely if he can talk about it, because he'll surely get it wrong, just like he does when he tries to do the laundry all by himself. In reality, it is a subject that is just as amenable to scholarly analysis and discussion as anything else we blog about.
I am not knocking the personal anecdote approach - it has clearly been deeply meaningful and helpful to many women to have that kind of information sharing out there in the blogosphere. And much of the best of that writing has been a scholarly exploration in its own right, of the lived experience of scientists who are women. What I am saying is, that is not the only thing that can be done.
If I were a married man with children, I might well be leery of blogging about how I negotiate the home balance with my spouse on my science blog, even if I weren't concerned about privacy or protecting a pseud, because I'd be afraid of pissing off my spouse, and pissing off the feminist blogosphere. That's my cookie to the men science bloggers who have ever even gotten as far as thinking about blogging about work-life balance: Zuska feels your pain.
But let me repeat myself: speaking from the deep well of personal experience and sharing intimate details of daily life is not the only way to write about work-life balance. This is fortunate, because work-life balance, life native plant gardening, is something I care about a great deal. Unlike native plant gardening, I currently have no experience with work-life balance. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I have no work to balance with my life. And yet, amazingly, I am able to think in a critical and intellectual manner about the topic, and to care about the topic because I understand that it remains relevant to huge swaths of the population, even if it isn't personally relevant to me right now.
Why, gosh! I am even able to recognize that work-life balance is an issue for Mr. Z, who has a job! And that dude is a man!
I'm fine with stirring the pot on the internet, but not in anyone's personal life. That's why I just can't encourage any particular man to start blogging shit about what he does or does not do at home to help out the little missus - that's a whole different project from critiquing institutional structures. So in the next post, we shall explore what possibilities remain to us to talk and write and blog about work-life balance, if we are not going to dip into the Well of Personal Experience.
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Oh, right. Stupid html sensitivity. Just expressing my admiration, Zuska.
*eagerly awaits next installment*
This. Yup. Thanks Zuska.
"If I were a married man with children, I might well be leery of blogging about how I negotiate the home balance with my spouse on my science blog, even if I weren't concerned about privacy or protecting a pseud, because I'd be afraid of pissing off my spouse, and pissing off the feminist blogosphere. That's my cookie to the men science bloggers who have ever even gotten as far as thinking about blogging about work-life balance: Zuska feels your pain."
You're being too nice. We need a culture in which men accept equal responsibility for household obligations (really, more responsibility, since they are responsible for violence against women and the patriarchal structure of our economy) and are open about it. If that means that they get their asses handed to them and called out on their privilege until they get it right, well, nobody said that learning is supposed to be enjoyable or painless. They aren't oppressed people, they don't need anybody else to make them feel welcomed in these discussions. If anything, they need to learn what it's like to be unwelcome.
No cookies for them.
Spanking the monkey in the shower while waiting for a call from Sweden.
Ahahahaha! And this is why he has no time to help with the dishes?!?!?!?!?!!?
He only needs to wait for the call from Sweden once a year. The rest of the time he is busy telling everybody how clever he and his best buddies are.
I have to say that this NotDiscussingWomen issue is a big one for me. From my perspective, in an exclusively male field with many bloggers, one of the greatest advances of the internet is its ability to record SILENCE. All those years that they ignored us, refused to listened to our opinions, ignored the fact that there were ZERO women around (except for a few token mathematicians who don't actually know anything about the physics), made snide comments regarding our existence ... it is all on record. Date and time stamped for historians to muse over. This is one of the main reasons I keep blogging.
I share this for the general amusement of all.
We have a to do list on our fridge, which reads:
Husband to do list:
-drop of clothes to thrift store
-sell books back
Following a few snide comments from visiting male friends of my husband about the lack of a to-do list for me (I am six months pregnant and working full time, he is working part-time) he added the following...
(really, more responsibility, since they are responsible for violence against women and the patriarchal structure of our economy) and are open about it. If that means that they get their asses handed to them and called out on their privilege until they get it right, well, nobody said that learning is supposed to be enjoyable or painless.
It is fascinating how you decry (presumably) physical violence against women while you simultaneously call for emotional violence against men.
... while you simultaneously call for emotional violence against men.
I got this one .... Ahahahahahahahahahahaaaa!!!!!
Oh dear, El Picador thinks that failing to coddle hir is violence against hir. Which means Mother Teresa committed lifelong violence against almost the entire population of the planet. That evil hag!
Kea, it's WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT ABOUT THE MENZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!
We can't have d00ds being called out on their privilege. DOOM IMPENDING DOOM! OH NOES!
Got it. No emotional violence for El Picador. He wants a punch in the mouth instead.
To go on from there: I feel a particular icky feeling whenever anyone tells any blogger "you MUST write about X!" for a coupla reasons.
Oh, the memories...
Only tangentially related, have any of you seen this gawd-awful comic?
Well, it looks like the NYT decided to chime in on some of the special problems men have when it comes to work-life balance. I don't know if I would call it a very complete discussion of the issues, but it's at least a starting point:
OMG, that NYT article suggests that a father playing videogames is doing "work". Uh, no. I'm tired of the schtick where men try to claim they're sharing childcare equally when they do all the fun parts and leave the less fun parts to someone else.
"It is fascinating how you decry (presumably) physical violence against women while you simultaneously call for emotional violence against men. "
LOOOOOLLLOLOOLLLLLL!!!! This is AWESOME cluelessness. Got that ladies - boyz are so freaking fragile and helpless that they can't handle not getting to steal every single cookie off the tray and be applauded for it. They are such delicate tender babies that being told they don't get to have every they want, when and how they want it, is emotional violence!!
The poor men! Won't anyone think about the men! Won't anyone just eat their shit sandwich in peace so the poor little men can be spared having to think so someone else for a few minutes, one time!!!
I agree with what you said about having a few men bloggers (I would extrapolate to outside the scientific field) do a post about work-life balance once or even once in a while isn't the same as a shift of paradigm. However, it would be a start. Great point that it doesn't have to be from personal experience. There are many ways of discussing the issue.
What gets my feathers ruffled is when men (or anyone else really) blame the current paradigm/culture in which we live as an excuse for not even taking a first step.
Yes, they might get hammered by feminists. At first. But if it became a regular part of their dialogue, as it has for women, then it would not be viewed as anything more than another area of their lives that they talk about. Not an area for The Womenfolk or something they get a cookie for. And that is how the paradigm would begin shifting. One blog post at a time (she writes, with wistful idealism).
@Cara: I totally LOLed at #14! Hysterical!
Actually Zuska, since I do admire you so much, if you, yourself demanded that I do a post on native gardening I probably would :)
Yes I should not have singled out DM, and I have already said that in my comments. I should've used the hypothetical male science blogger or as you have done said male science bloggers as a group.
But is the issue even on the male science blogger radar screen as potentially blogworthy? When the answer is consistently "no" time after time, I think it's of interest to ask why. .
I didn't even think about the why, outside that its "women's issue". I've just noticed they don't.
Zuska and ScientistMother both,
I'm not demanding you write a post about native plant gardening, but if you do, I will eagerly read it.
And I suppose you all have never examined the privilege you have to act and talk in ways that, were you a man, would earn you a beating? Cause that sure ain't a privilege, is it? naaaah.
Oh, right, because women have never been stalked, issued credible death threats, or beaten for things they have said online.
Hah, hah! One might be forgiven for thinking that El Picador wants to SCARE us ... oooooooooh, noooooooooes, scary man. Let's all stop whinging and get back to the chores, ladeez ... hah, hah. See you in hell, El Picador.
Oh, right, because women have never been stalked, issued credible death threats, or beaten for things they have said online.
What does this have to do with the substance of my comment? Try sketching it out with Venn diagrams if you have to.
Men facing violence for things they say vs women facing violence for existing.
Make your own diagram.
"What does this have to do with the substance of my comment?"
Because you went off on an odd and bizarre tangent about an irrelevant and very weak (and highly contextual) privilege - obviously hoping to score some dishonest and underhanded ad hominem style 'Gotcha!' - so Helen rightfully and correctly pointed out not being beaten for how you say things isn't actually a privilege women enjoy.
So you said:
"You have this privilege!1one!"
And Helen responded:
"Actually, we have all this."
and now you're all confused?
Do you really need to have Helens response explained to you, or do you honestly think beatings are the only rational response to having a strip torn off you?
I would say beatings are a unlikely prospect if you employ the person or if you're in a larger group and/or look tougher. Add in that you (the beater) would likely look sociopathic, weak, 'crazy' and an utter 'nut' if you were to give someone a beating in any setting other than a bar or game and it's clear that you're just talking shit.
Why you decided to talk about privilege rather than address the concerns with your original post is no mystery.
You simply can't address them with any substance, thus you had to dredge up a rather shoddy ad hom. It's also quite interesting that you percieved violence in the OP, and your observation revolved around violence. Given too much away there haven't you buddy?
Mal Adapted, I do plan to write about native plant gardening in the very near future!
Sorry, I seem to have missed where I claimed someone's point was invalid because of their personal characteristics or my perception thereof. Perhaps you can enlighten me as to where I did any such thing.
El Picador, you may need to refresh on Feminism 101. An excerpt:
[W]hat is commonly called âfemale privilegeâ is better described as benevolent sexism. Systems like the draft and chivalry often seem advantageous to women at first glance, but when examined more closely they in fact reinforce sexist institutions that keep both women and men from true equality. Also, it should be noted that, while men have whatâs called male privilege that doesnât mean that there must logically be a âfemale privilegeâ counterpart. This is because, although many strides towards equality have been made over the years, women as a class have not yet leveled the playing field, much less been put in a position of power and authority equivalent to that which grants institutional power to men as a class.
The entire article on so-called "female privilege" can be found here: http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2008/02/09/faq-female-privilege/
And as Helen pointed out, the privilege of not being beaten up for what we say is not actually a privilege women (as a class) enjoy.
"And I suppose you all have never examined the privilege you have to act and talk in ways that, were you a man, would earn you a beating? Cause that sure ain't a privilege, is it? naaaah."
Ah, so you're a fucking moron on top of being a fucking whiner. Excellent! Are you seriously suggesting that women don't get beaten up? Are you seriously suggesting that women don't get beaten up by men - for they way they speak, look, act, don't have dinner on the table, dress etc ad nauseum? Are you seriously suggesting that because we're not sufficiently demure and eager to coddle your pathetic, sexist bullshit that NONE of us have been hit?
Fuck you. Fuck you and your whiny, WATM cowardice.
I see we're back to the old "women don't get hit" bit.
Any woman who has been grabbed, shaken, and/or spat on in the street for failing to acknowledge a cat call, or followed home with threats of rape the whole way (having to dodge into a strange building so he doesn't know where she lives), or randomly beaten as an "entry fee" for an aspiring gang member because he figures she's an easy target will know, as I do from experience, that this myth is bunk.
I've been beaten up repeatedly by men for riding public transport and sitting quietly, minding my own business.
El Picador makes up a fantasy world because his dick would fall off if he had to face reality. Sad.
"Sorry, I seem to have missed where I claimed someone's point was invalid because of their personal characteristics or my perception thereof."
I notice you still haven't addressed the concerns with your original post.
Also, I said 'ad hominem style' and 'Gotcha'. I am fully aware that you have merely implied ignorance on our behalf. This deliberate lack of clarity to your posts is a dishonest tactic that allows you to fake inocence when people call you on it, as you have just done.
It was a deliberate attempt to link ignorance (a personal failing) of a privilege as a means to create a false perception of lack of insight, thereby weakening the arguement by association.
Whereas this is a perfectly legitimate tactic if the impairment in insight actually exists and is relevant to the core of the arguement - it was neither true nor relevant in this case.
Are you seriously suggesting that because we're not sufficiently demure and eager to coddle your pathetic, sexist bullshit that NONE of us have been hit?
Never even remotely claimed such a thing. Venn diagrams are your friend here.
Why is it that so many persist in attributing things to me that I did not (in any way shape or form) say? Is it really such a big thing to deal with the actual text instead of inventing up subtext all the time?
If an ant that bites someone has a 50% chance of being tossed off to go about it's ant life and a 50% chance of being squashed, and a lion that bites someone has a 100% chance of being euthanized, is it then reasonable to tell ants they are privileged above lions?
Try a Venn diagram with "power" and "privilege", perhaps.
Oh dear oh dear oh dear.
Widdle El Picador feels like he's suffering emotional violence. One wonders why he keeps clicking on the page.
"Why is it that so many persist in attributing things to me that I did not (in any way shape or form) say? Is it really such a big thing to deal with the actual text instead of inventing up subtext all the time?"
No, diddums, we simply aren't fooled by your feigned innocence/"but I didn't say that!" game.
Dedj is my hero in this here thread. Thank you for taking the time to break that shit down, Dedj.
Well, lets just pretend the dude is right for a second, for the sake of argument.Men do kill each other more than women, and it has a lot to do with toxic masculinity, which feminists are working to unravel. Get on board dude, the goal of making sure there is less unnecessary ass kicking is a common one. It surely doesn't make for privilege to live in a world divided in such a way, we are all screwed by that.
I just realized this: the handle "el picador" strongly suggests that he's here specifically to make people angry. In bullfighting, the picador's job is to poke the bull with the point of a sword until the animal gets angry enough to charge at the matador.
Now, it may be that he also believes this bullshit, but enjoys the fact that when he recites it here, people get angry at him. Or he may not believe a word of it. Sincerity is neither necessary nor sufficient for trolling.
What does this have to do with the substance of my comment?
Your comments have no substance.
"You wimmenz get to say things and we can't hit you for it. Waaah, waaaah, waaaaaah."
Wow, I'm having trouble tracking the various positions that El Picador is taking. Women (as a class) are privileged in that they don't get beaten AND women (as a class) are beaten because they are underprivileged.
I want to see his damn diagram.
I suppose I should be unsurprised that it is only becca who shows the remotest ability to grasp the point. We disagree with the relative shading but in essence, yes. This.
Those poor underprivileged lions. And those damn lucky ants. It's great for them that they have so much privilege. But here I'm probably reading "subtext" into the "text" of El Picador's statement. Oops. How's this for text, dude: what the hell...?
On topic, however, I'm astonished this week as I always am when I teach young kids to see how vivid is the distinction between the boys' and the girls' interests. The girls write stories about finding spouses and making babies, the boys about interstellar warfare. All the time. It really is that black and white and extreme.
Given that ten-year-olds have been trained to see the world through such incredibly gendered lenses, it's no wonder (I guess) that adult women are supposed to find their greatest interest in a "life" that revolves around homemaking, while when men talk about a Life/Work balance, they often mean "recreation" when talking about "having a life." But for women, housecleaning, cooking, taking care of children and spouse IS their recreation, right? [/snark]
CS, I think it's actually supposed to be. As far as I can tell, mothers are supposed to go to every extreme in caring for their children, not out determination to do their best for them no matter how much work it is, but because they *want* to do those things for their children. All the extra duties are supposed to be chosen joyously. And once you swallow that line, there's an escalating set of demands on what properly joyfully devoted looks like.
That's how it looks to me from the outside, anyway. I've never wanted anything to do with that particular treadmill.
I suppose I should be unsurprised that it is only becca who shows the remotest ability to grasp the point.
Ew. Keep your point to yourself. Nobody wants to grasp it.
Cara, nice one.
Helen, yes, definitely; that's the problem, that homemaking is supposed to be so natural, biological, and joyous for mothers. I'm with you on skipping the motherhood treadmill in part because of how our society frames motherhood. I simply don't want to have to deal with the pressures. (Other reasons, too, but not relevant to this discussion.) From here, it seems so absurd to say that women just naturally love cleaning. But how many times growing up did I hear the line about men being "biologically programmed not to see details and dust" therefore my brother was never going to learn to do his chores properly, and my mother or I had to do them? (I heard this from my brother and my mother.) Sigh. (Love my brother, but he was good at working The System.)
Yeah, CS, men are biologically programmed not to see details and uncleanliness in the kitchen, but in the operating room, it's a different story, right? *sprains eyes from rolling*
How can people even stand to listen to themselves sometimes, I wonder. Guess that's why all too often they don't listen.
Anyone biologically programmed not to see fussy detail is automatically unfit for programming and engineering, among other things. Poor dears.
Cool. The discussion here is weighty, but in time one grows weary of controversy.
'All that you say is true, but now let us tend our garden.' --Voltaire
I became a native-plant gardener as part of a small-scale ecological restoration project. I can't say it helped much ecologically, but it was powerfully restorative for me.
Mal Adapted, that about sums it up exactly for me! Both the need to turn away from the weighty discussions now and then, and the restorative effects of native plant gardening, whether or not they will save the world.