Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by reboot on Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:42 pm

I was chit chatting with a friend at work about a pretentious guy who works at another organization and I realized the following:
1. If I use pretentious as a descriptor of someone, that someone is usually a man
2. The times I describe women as pretentious, I usually have a stronger, more negative impression of the person than if it was a man (something I was less than thrilled to realize)

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Am I onto something or have I just been working too much and am making nonexistent connections?
reboot
reboot
Moderator of "Other Relationships" and "Gender, Identity and Society"

Posts : 2514
Reputation : 1005
Join date : 2014-09-24

Back to top Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Re: Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by Lemminkainen on Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:44 pm

I would say that it probably is.

A possible confounding factor to consider: "pretentious" is usually applied to intellectuals or wannabe-intellectuals, and maybe we tend to code that identity as male as well?

Lemminkainen

Posts : 143
Reputation : 58
Join date : 2014-10-02

Back to top Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Re: Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by nearly_takuan on Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:53 pm

Lemminkainen wrote:I would say that it probably is.

A possible confounding factor to consider: "pretentious" is usually applied to intellectuals or wannabe-intellectuals, and maybe we tend to code that identity as male as well?

So's "pedantic", which I've also seen applied to a woman exactly once, it was by an exceptionally unpleasant student angry at a professor for giving him the grade he'd earned. I mean, uh, not to take sides or anything. >_>

I hadn't considered either, though. Thanks for calling attention to it—food for thought.
nearly_takuan
nearly_takuan

Posts : 1069
Reputation : 456
Join date : 2014-10-01

Back to top Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Re: Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by Enail on Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:56 pm

From the usages I've encountered, I'd say pedantic is coded fairly strongly male, but pretentious I've heard used quite a lot for women, especially young women in intellectual and artsy spaces.
Enail
Enail
Admin

Posts : 4039
Reputation : 2278
Join date : 2014-09-22

Back to top Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Re: Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by Guest on Tue Oct 07, 2014 11:01 pm

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

I guess? Didn't Kleenestar mention that men were on average more likely to overestimate their abilities than women? So, to a certain extent I can see how the word can be more male coded.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Re: Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by nearly_takuan on Tue Oct 07, 2014 11:15 pm

How about arrogant, perverse, or stubborn?

There are also words that are loaded toward one sex or the other despite being "usable" on either one. Like, if you call a man sensitive, it may or may not be a compliment—but calling a woman sensitive (or worse, saying she is "being sensitive") is almost always a negative judgment. I'm pretty sure there are similar words that go the other way, but invisible problems are hard to spot! Heh.
nearly_takuan
nearly_takuan

Posts : 1069
Reputation : 456
Join date : 2014-10-01

Back to top Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Re: Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by eselle28 on Tue Oct 07, 2014 11:21 pm

I don't think "pretentious" is coded male, and I've known numerous pretentious women. But I'm also noticing that people are relating it to intellectual arrogance and to the term "pedantic." I'd agree that those are male-coded traits, and I wouldn't be surprised if women who have those traits are judged more harshly.

I do think that's one form of being pretentious, but some of the people who I'd consider pretentious are not particularly intellectual. Some of them are overly impressed with their or their family's wealth or status. Others have a holier-than-thou persona, whether their standard of holiness means chastity and prayer, ethically sourced everything and very restricted diets, having unique and tortured artistic insight, or enforcing 1920s standards for manners on everyone around them. For some broad cultural references, I'm thinking of people like the cliched religious moralist, (the public image of) Gwyneth Paltrow, (the public image of) Lady Gaga, and the cliched person who makes damn sure you know they're related to the mayor and from the oldest family in town. I think these pretentious people are as likely to be women as men, and in some cases are more likely to be women.


Last edited by eselle28 on Tue Oct 07, 2014 11:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
eselle28
eselle28
General Oversight Moderator

Posts : 1994
Reputation : 999
Join date : 2014-09-24

Back to top Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Re: Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by Guest on Tue Oct 07, 2014 11:24 pm

I can field this two, connected, ways: normal interactions with men and women and music. I say yes to both.

When it comes to music, I see many, many different criticisms, insults and the like hurled at all sorts of bands, artists and groups but it's only ever men and the music they make that is labelled 'pretentious'.

Now, that can be something like prog rock being incredibly self-indulgent by nature, which is a fair point. But I find it crop up more to do with what men sing about or how they sing it. The amount of times I've heard Sting be called pretentious and his female contemporaries singing about the same themes in the same ways are never called out the same is truly astonishing. For those who don't listen to his material, there's a lot of references to his youth in English shipbuilding communities, love and how it affects people, spirituality, loss and hope. When he says he sings about these things from the heart, he's being pretentious and 'fake'. When women do it, more often than not they are either taken seriously or just labelled as 'laying it on too thick' or, on occasion, 'fake' too. Rarely, if ever, pretentious. Sting's music could easily be described as wussy, sooky and sacharine too.

I think a lot of the musical side of the term 'pretentious' can stem from men not really have quite as much room to emotionally express themselves. When they do as an artist, it can be seen as all the above because men are manly and should sing about manly things like doinking women and drinking, hurr hurr hurr. When they sing about emotional things that aren't properly coded in popular music, it's deemed as put on, pretentious and fake because men don't really get that hung up things, they are emotional zombies! Razz

When it comes to people, well, it's similar but a wee bit different as I see it. Men often feel the need to impress everyone because masculinity. I think we all get that. That ties into trying to build yourself up and make yourself seem big even if you really aren't, which is the cornerstone of being pretentious. Acting smarter than you are, acting like you're a Casanova when you're not, etc. While women have so many different and so much pressure to impress men, it's less active, more passive. To generalise like crazy to make this less of a vomit of text, women have to look good and attract men, while men have to impress the women with how awesome they are once attracted. Men are more likely to do 'pretentious' things than women to fulfill that obligation. Hence, women are less likely to do those active false-confidence activities in the same manner or at all. Obviously, not all set in stone and there are exceptions of course, but I find that when women do the same 'pretentious' things as guys, they are treated as a larger aberration than men are because it's rarely perceived in the same way.

...I just had too much caffeine this is probably all over the place but the concept of 'pretentiousness' in one I think about a lot.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Re: Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by reboot on Tue Oct 07, 2014 11:34 pm

You know what? I think I swap up pedantic and pretentious and treat them as the same. I now need to do the English major walk of shame.

This post should be addressing pedatic rather than pretentious
reboot
reboot
Moderator of "Other Relationships" and "Gender, Identity and Society"

Posts : 2514
Reputation : 1005
Join date : 2014-09-24

Back to top Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Re: Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by Werel on Wed Oct 08, 2014 12:25 am

"Pedantic" is intensely male-coded for me, and I'm not sure whether that's due to having known a lot of pedantic men, or just being quicker to apply the label to men-- but I suspect it has something to do with the way women are socialized to express less forceful epistemic stance (i.e. claiming knowledge of, or authority in, a topic) in conversation. Not cool for ladies to claim authority on intellectual topics, says American society! Even in academia, even in a department and subfield which are pretty evenly gender-balanced, I still see men in my classes jumping all over each other to claim definitive expertise in topics they may not know all that much about* while their more knowledgeable female colleagues shut up and/or explain the topic in a way which downplays their expertise (e.g. using discourse strategies like checking in for confirmation--"don't you think?"--and hedging forceful statements with "I just think" or "it seems to me").

This is of course not to say "men are pedants, women are not"--goodness knows I have encountered some frightfully pedantic women--but it does seem to be a problem that affects way more men in my experience. It all seems to come back to assertiveness and authority and aggression and all these other gender-fraught A-words that I'm still trying to wrap my Being a Girl in Modern America brain around.

*Or the dreaded Bibliography Olympics-- "did you read that paper on Topic by X?" "It was acceptable, but I align more with the newer critique by Y." "Well actually Y's response was refuted in a recent article by Z, but I'm sure you haven't had time to read that yet." Meanwhile I'm clawing my eyes out as class time ticks away and no one learns anything from these inane pissing contests which (sorry, but I make this claim only of my own experience!) are invariably between two dudes.
Werel
Werel
Moderator of "Meeting People and Dating Advice"

Posts : 1961
Reputation : 1176
Join date : 2014-09-25

Back to top Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Re: Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by Wondering on Wed Oct 08, 2014 1:47 am

You are reminding me of one of many reasons I don't miss grad school/academia. Smile

_________________
-Nevertheless, she persisted

Wondering

Posts : 1117
Reputation : 436
Join date : 2014-10-01

Back to top Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Re: Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by eselle28 on Wed Oct 08, 2014 1:54 am

I am also being reminded of why I don't miss law school, which is much the same, except the word "precedent" is used a lot and there's a lot of squabbling about original intent and law and economics and hypothetical questions that only tangentially relate to the topic at hand.
eselle28
eselle28
General Oversight Moderator

Posts : 1994
Reputation : 999
Join date : 2014-09-24

Back to top Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Re: Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by reboot on Wed Oct 08, 2014 2:14 am

I am also being reminded of why I am happy to be out of grad school. We had maybe 5 men in a year of 40-45 students and inevitably there were 2-3 pedants out of each male cohort that debated the most pointless minutiae.

Werel brought up something that struck me about how women present knowledge. I know for me I use "Do you think...", " It is possible that..." to couch my opinions a lot rather than just outright saying a fact or my opinion. I do it even when I know it is 100% true not just "possible". Also, when I contradict, I tend to say, " That is not entirely accurate " or similar rather than just saying "That is wrong/not correct"

I wonder if my negative reaction to female pedants is stronger because they do away with such padding? I also wonder if they were really not being pedantic but were just presenting knowledge in a more male style that felt overly harsh because it was not softened the way I expected.

See all, even feminists have their sexist moments Embarassed Embarassed
reboot
reboot
Moderator of "Other Relationships" and "Gender, Identity and Society"

Posts : 2514
Reputation : 1005
Join date : 2014-09-24

Back to top Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Re: Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by Lemminkainen on Wed Oct 08, 2014 3:44 am

Another possible explanation (which I'm pretty sure is totally compatible with the one you offered, reboot): because of gender expectations, a pedantic has a higher probability of having really terrible social skills in general than a pedantic man, which will likely make our reactions to them more negative.

Some of the discussion in this thread made me laugh a bit because I'm a male academic and a consumate status-posturer.* But I also know that aggressively asserting your knowledge and correcting people on minutiae is a poor way to play that game. When I meet people at conferences or attend presentations and suchlike, I ask brief, eloquent questions which show off my knowledge and give them a chance to show off theirs. Most people seem impressed, grateful that I asked an actual question rather than giving a short speech about my own research disguised as a question**, and, like all academics, enjoy the chance to show off. This has gotten me a reputation in my department as "the graduate student who asks the best questions," which suggests that this strategy for making myself seem cleverer than my peers is working. In class, I speak confidently, but defer to specialists on matters relating to their areas of expertise and will often ask quiet specialists what they think about particular issues. This also doesn't seem to hurt. Being a pedant just seems like such an inept way to convince others that you're worthy of attention...


*Admittedly, it seems like you sort of have to be to be successful in this industry. If I ever find myself in a position to instruct graduate students, I'll put a priority on rhetoric and self-fashioning.

** Seriously, why do people think that it's okay to do this? If your question is just five minutes of academic buzzword salad, you're wasting everybody's time.

Lemminkainen

Posts : 143
Reputation : 58
Join date : 2014-10-02

Back to top Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Re: Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:21 am

Ah, guess I misunderstood the thread. I had thought it was about when we hastily assign a negative descriptor to not-that-bad behavior by one gender while giving the other a pass unless it really stands out.

But I guess it's more about whether men really are more likely to be pedantic?

Hrm, now I'm not sure if I know much about either subject. About two thirds of the people I knew in my maths major were women, but I'm no longer in contact with most of them and if I only rely on memory, it's hard to disentangle whether they were really all less pedantic than the pedantic men I certainly had worked with, or if I just thought less about it due to personal biases.

There's also the thing where women tend to talk less overall, and often everyone (including the woman in question) thinks they're "dominating" the conversation anyway. So if that's also happening, then there are fewer opportunities for a "pedantic" woman to demonstrate pedantry.
nearly_takuan
nearly_takuan

Posts : 1069
Reputation : 456
Join date : 2014-10-01

Back to top Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Re: Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by Conreezy on Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:49 am

Also, when I contradict, I tend to say, " That is not entirely accurate " or similar rather than just saying "That is wrong/not correct"

I get sensitive to how I do the same thing, not wanting to come off as a pedantic smarty-pants.  (In a fire department, it's all too easy to become Who-does-this-guy-think-he-is smart.)  What I usually do is explain a correction in really pedestrian terms (it's why I curse during "deep" conversations.)    I think it helps whoever's being corrected not respond defensively for feeling like an idiot.


Some of the discussion in this thread made me laugh a bit because I'm a male academic and a consumate status-posturer

Oh, man, sometimes doing that to put other posturers in their place feels good. Story time:

I practice western fencing and kendo, which is Japanese fencing with wooden sticks. One day, I found a different Japanese style that uses actual steel blades (for cutting targets, not people, unless Ebola zombifies people.) Anyway, I'm familiar with a dojo, but the very second I enter, some d-bag says to me "It's customary to bow when you enter a dojo."

Smiling, I nod, then I hear the guy saying something about being a 5000th degree karate black belt. Whatever.

When the class starts, one of the students takes out a katana and shows us how to clean it. I asked every question I could about the quality of the steel, the points of balance and percussion, the types of oils used for coating, sharpening, etc...making sure I hit every Japanese term I knew.

The look of amazement on that karate guy's face was priceless.
Conreezy
Conreezy

Posts : 269
Reputation : 97
Join date : 2014-10-01

Back to top Go down

Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic? Empty Re: Is "pretentious" a male coded characteristic?

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum