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Post by UristMcBunny on Sun Nov 02, 2014 6:30 pm

I ma be late to the party, but I just saw this and thought it was pretty powerful stuff.


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Post by The Wisp on Sun Nov 02, 2014 6:49 pm

Eh, I personally found it to be too on the nose.

Also, the girl facing social pressure to not read is hilariously out of date in a era when 60% of college graduates are women.
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Post by UristMcBunny on Sun Nov 02, 2014 7:18 pm

Ehh, in spite of that statistic I can confirm that the "girls don't do math" thing is still alive and well. There's still a lot of pressure to not be "too smart", to downplay your intelligence around guys - especially guys you want to date, because we're told that boys don't like girls who do better than them at... basically anything. And there's still lot of pressure pushing women away from STEM fields.

Which, as a "gifted child" (gag) was quite... interesting. Because on one hand I had the pressure to do well, where anything below a B was treated as a failure and anything other than being in the top class for everything was treated as stupidity... while also being chastised for spending too much time with my nose in books, not socialising enough and not spending more time learning how to do things like make-up and clothes.

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Post by Guest on Sun Nov 02, 2014 7:36 pm

The Wisp wrote:Eh, I personally found it to be too on the nose.

Hm, maybe that's what it takes to get the message across nowadays?

More videos with similar messages means that more people think about these issues. So, ultimately a good thing.

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Post by nearly_takuan on Sun Nov 02, 2014 8:33 pm

UristMcBunny wrote:Ehh, in spite of that statistic I can confirm that the "girls don't do math" thing is still alive and well.  There's still a lot of pressure to not be "too smart", to downplay your intelligence around guys - especially guys you want to date, because we're told that boys don't like girls who do better than them at... basically anything.  And there's still  lot of pressure pushing women away from STEM fields.

I'll admit to feeling a little weird/anxious when I try to contact someone who already has or is actively pursuing a Master's or Ph.D. on an OLD site, because they are obviously way cooler than me.

But... I automatically skip over any profile that reads as too ignorant or not curious enough. And IRL, I get along better with "smart" people generally. Everyone I've ever wanted to date (after meeting them in person, etc) has been some kind of logical-problem-solving well-read intellectual type.

Of course, regardless of my personal reasons for disliking that specific trope, the really sucky part is that people have to worry that much about whether participating (or not participating) in activity X influences your chances of finding a good date or partner.
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Post by azazel on Mon Nov 03, 2014 5:44 am

UristMcBunny wrote:Ehh, in spite of that statistic I can confirm that the "girls don't do math" thing is still alive and well.  There's still a lot of pressure to not be "too smart", to downplay your intelligence around guys - especially guys you want to date, because we're told that boys don't like girls who do better than them at... basically anything.  And there's still  lot of pressure pushing women away from STEM fields.

Which, as a "gifted child" (gag) was quite... interesting.  Because on one hand I had the pressure to do well, where anything below a B was treated as a failure and anything other than being in the top class for everything was treated as stupidity... while also being chastised for spending too much time with my nose in books, not socialising enough and not spending more time learning how to do things like make-up and clothes.

Cosigned on the girls don't do math still being alive and well.
I'm not a girl (rather obviously) but I've got empirical evidence that at least some girls are being told to only read party-approved propaganda - read books with horses - rather than a fantasy series with a female protagonist, because Alchemy was like fantasy Chemistry and Chemistry isn't for girls.

The don't be "too smart" thing is interesting though. I think paradoxically it's, amongst other things, linked to the fact that women are not allowed to date down (down here being defined as an extremely narrow set of criteria (intelligence, self-sufficiency, ambition, etc. etc.)). Since they generally don't date down, if a man approaches a girl that's equal or better he gets shot down, so they tend to date down themselves. Therefore, if you're a high value women (again as defined from an extremely narrow set of criteria) you haven't got a lot of suitors and have to dumb yourself down to make sure you get approached again. It's still a bit of chicken and egg question of course.

There's also a general hate for smart people strewn through society of course. Men are also being chastised for spending too much time with their nose in books, having to be natural, effortlessly smart instead of booklearning smart.

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Post by kleenestar on Mon Nov 03, 2014 11:41 am

I'd just like to cosign the "women aren't supposed to be too smart" thing. I definitely got that my whole life, even though I'm quite extraordinarily brilliant. It was okay as long as I didn't act like it, and particularly as long as I didn't threaten the boys by reminding them just how much smarter than them I was. Achieving when it meant playing by the rules and jumping through hoops like a good obedient girl? That was okay - but not when it came to anything pleasurable, or worse, involving interacting with my peers rather than the classroom.

There's a very good research study (which sadly I don't have at my fingertips; I'm not in the office today) that looks at male stress when women outperform them. Women not being allowed to date down may be part of the cultural issue, but this study just looked at male reactions to women doing better than them at various tasks. Men were most upset when women performed well at male-coded tasks (e.g. math) and least upset - but still upset!) - when women out-performed them at female-coded tasks, and IIRC the more a man was attached to his masculinity, the stronger the effect. I say "upset" because I can't remember if they looked at anger and anxiety separately, but again, I can see if I can find the study at some point.
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Post by azazel on Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:17 pm

kleenestar wrote:I'd just like to cosign the "women aren't supposed to be too smart" thing. I definitely got that my whole life, even though I'm quite extraordinarily brilliant. It was okay as long as I didn't act like it, and particularly as long as I didn't threaten the boys by reminding them just how much smarter than them I was. Achieving when it meant playing by the rules and jumping through hoops like a good obedient girl? That was okay - but not when it came to anything pleasurable, or worse, involving interacting with my peers rather than the classroom.

Just curious - did you also catch flak from girls when you were too smart?
This side topic reminds me of Working Class Hero.


People, in general, despise intelligence.

Can't say I totally blame them, if I see how... shocked they are when I treat them like equals, and give no notion I'm so much better than them /sarcasm. Apparently they have bad experiences with "our kind".

The segregation between lower- and higher educated people in my country is enormous. I suspect the gap will only continue to widen in the following years.

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Post by Enail on Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:23 pm

azazel wrote:
kleenestar wrote:I'd just like to cosign the "women aren't supposed to be too smart" thing. I definitely got that my whole life, even though I'm quite extraordinarily brilliant. It was okay as long as I didn't act like it, and particularly as long as I didn't threaten the boys by reminding them just how much smarter than them I was. Achieving when it meant playing by the rules and jumping through hoops like a good obedient girl? That was okay - but not when it came to anything pleasurable, or worse, involving interacting with my peers rather than the classroom.

Just curious - did you also catch flak from girls when you were too smart?

Obv. not Kleenestar, but for me, girls definitely gave me a hard time for being too smart, and I think (it's been a while) more than boys did - but only in the "being smart is a bad thing" way, while boys reacted negatively both in that way and to me outperforming them.
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Post by Lemminkainen on Mon Nov 03, 2014 1:43 pm

kleenestar wrote:I'd just like to cosign the "women aren't supposed to be too smart" thing. I definitely got that my whole life, even though I'm quite extraordinarily brilliant. It was okay as long as I didn't act like it, and particularly as long as I didn't threaten the boys by reminding them just how much smarter than them I was. Achieving when it meant playing by the rules and jumping through hoops like a good obedient girl? That was okay - but not when it came to anything pleasurable, or worse, involving interacting with my peers rather than the classroom.


I think that here, you might have hit on something important about how anti-intellectualism is gendered. From the other side, I encountered two versions:

1) From my peers at relatively ordinary US public and Catholic schools and some adults: People who believed that my pursuit of intellectual interests and reading as a child was un-masculine. I'm not sure if this was more because of the activities themselves or because they tended to come at the expense of things like sports.

2) When I was older, and went to a math/science high school, I noticed that male students didn't get flack for being intellectual, but definitely did get flack for being try-hards or overachievers. So all the best male students worked to play their academic successes as the product of natural genius or maybe a side effect of their hobbies rather than as a consequence of working hard (even though almost all of us actually put lots of effort into doing well). Meanwhile, the best female students seemed much more comfortable acknowledging hard work, but less comfortable with performing the "brilliant" routine that the male students seemed so desperate to do. People still talked about them as being really smart or being geniuses, but they tended to be much more self-deprecating about it. Interestingly, this dynamic seemed to play out in where people showed off their intellectual talents most effectively. The best male students tended to shine in academic competitions and extracurricular activities (math league, quiz bowl, mock trial, science olympiad, things like IPhO and IBO) while the best female students tended to have significantly better grades (at #2, I was the only guy in my school's top 5) and hold more school and organizational leadership positions. Nobody had problems with people being successful in those gendered domains, but in my year, I was the only person who did really well in both, even though I'm pretty sure a lot of people in my class would have had the ability to do so-- I think that gendered expectations might have limited my peers a lot.

Has anybody else seen patterns like this?*


*I graduated from high school in 2009, and went to a strange high school, so I suspect that older people who studied at other places might have seen very different dynamics-- I feel like it might be telling if they were the same, though.

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Post by The Wisp on Mon Nov 03, 2014 1:50 pm

I'm sure some of these pressures are invisible to me, but I also wonder if part of it is a generational and regional difference. There was very little anti-intellectualism where I grew up in general.
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Post by kleenestar on Mon Nov 03, 2014 2:14 pm

Azazel: no, girls didn't give me flak per se, though they did reinforce the "he'll resent you if you're smart" narrative. I got a lot of well-meaning advice about how to seem dumber so the guy I liked would like me back, but that's not the same as the contempt and hostility I got from outperforming dudes.
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Post by kath on Mon Nov 03, 2014 2:48 pm

The Wisp wrote:Eh, I personally found it to be too on the nose.

Also, the girl facing social pressure to not read is hilariously out of date in a era when 60% of college graduates are women.

I don't think that section of the video was meant to be read literally. The book didn't have words in it, so she obviously wasn't actually reading anything and the clip makes no sense when read literally. Additionally, learning good posture by balancing a book on your head is much more hilariously out of date. The point is, the girl in the video was being taught how to perform femininity, and she took the materials and did something else with them that didn't fit into the femininity narrative. Then she was punished for it. It exactly parallels the boy's section.

Subverting "learn the excellent posture of a lady by balancing a book on your head" narrative by reading the book makes a ton of sense artistically.

Also, there are girls who face social pressure not to read. Mulalala Yousafsai just won the Nobel Peace Prize after the Taliban shot her in the head for advocating for the rights of girls to be educated.

Lemminkamen, what you are seeing is a documented thing (don't have links on me at the moment). Men present their accomplishments as being innate and due to their own inherent greatness (IE, natural talent or genius - they aren't supposed to have worked for it and don't present themselves that way, on the whole) whereas women frame their success in terms of external factors - luck, help they've gotten from others, hard work.
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Post by UristMcBunny on Mon Nov 03, 2014 4:30 pm

One thing I find interesting about the "girls don't do math" narrative is that, when women were not the major players in terms of university graduation, this was treated as the natural order of things, as evidence that women couldn't cut it in academia and that women were just naturally not suited to such things.

Then when women started outperforming boys, suddenly it became a societal crisis. Suddenly there was obviously bias against boys in education, and something needed to be done to fix it.

One thing I find interesting about the video I linked, is that while the girl subverts her programming by using an item that is still pink - still within her allowed sphere - but either being too interested in it or using it differently to how she is supposed to. But the boy subverts his programming specifically by reaching out for something that has been colour-coded as "for girls - not boys".

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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Nov 03, 2014 5:27 pm

UristMcBunny wrote:Then when women started outperforming boys, suddenly it became a societal crisis.  Suddenly there was obviously bias against boys in education, and something needed to be done to fix it.

I haven't heard anything about such a societal crisis, but is it really impossible that there might be a bias against boys in education?

UristMcBunny wrote:One thing I find interesting about the video I linked, is that while the girl subverts her programming by using an item that is still pink - still within her allowed sphere - but either being too interested in it or using it differently to how she is supposed to.  But the boy subverts his programming specifically by reaching out for something that has been colour-coded as "for girls - not boys".

That might be reading too much into it; boys can lose manliness-points for doing the exact same activity as other boys if it's for the "wrong" reason. Working out for sports or girls or a specific health condition is fine; doing it to feel/look good isn't, unless you can really sell that you're a "natural" at it too. Clothing is approximately the same—buying expensive outfits to appease a dress code or participate in an event is a Good Thing, but deities forbid you end up owning too many shoes.
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Post by Lemminkainen on Mon Nov 03, 2014 6:15 pm

kath wrote:
Lemminkamen, what you are seeing is a documented thing (don't have links on me at the moment). Men present their accomplishments as being innate and due to their own inherent greatness (IE, natural talent or genius - they aren't supposed to have worked for it and don't present themselves that way, on the whole) whereas women frame their success in terms of external factors - luck, help they've gotten from others, hard work.

Interesting! Do you remember what the population the study examined was?

If this is widespread, it seems like a very positive-sum problem to resolve-- hiding your hard work is, ironically, quite exhausting, and from what I've read, having to constantly downplay your abilities is also miserable. It would be really nice if we could fix both at once-- and probably foster more achievement as well, since most really successful people both have great gifts and work really hard to deploy them.

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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Nov 03, 2014 7:14 pm

Lemminkainen wrote:
kath wrote:
Lemminkamen, what you are seeing is a documented thing (don't have links on me at the moment). Men present their accomplishments as being innate and due to their own inherent greatness (IE, natural talent or genius - they aren't supposed to have worked for it and don't present themselves that way, on the whole) whereas women frame their success in terms of external factors - luck, help they've gotten from others, hard work.

Interesting!  Do you remember what the population the study examined was?

If this is widespread, it seems like a very positive-sum problem to resolve-- hiding your hard work is, ironically, quite exhausting, and from what I've read, having to constantly downplay your abilities is also miserable.  It would be really nice if we could fix both at once-- and probably foster more achievement as well, since most really successful people both have great gifts and work really hard to deploy them.

Funny thing is when I see this come up in pop media it's usually presented as "men are overconfident / overestimate their abilities; women are equally good and just too humble about it".

Volumes that want to seem more academic make more of an effort to talk about "gender roles" in the abstract and end up showing each group's respective disadvantages a little more clearly. (That said, I would be pleased to see primary sources if they're available.)

I did find this claim interesting:
The evidence for these differences in causal attributions is mixed. Some researches find that White girls and women are less likely than White boys and men to attribute success to ability and more likely to attribute failure to lack of ability. Others have found that this pattern depends on the kind of task used: occurring more with unfamiliar tasks or stereotypically masculine achievement task.

It seems to suggest that to be competent at a male-coded task is to be "naturally" male—having to work hard to do a male-coded thing is inherently feminine (ETA: or at least un-masculine, which according to gender-binary social norms is treated as more or less the same thing), whereas there is nothing too masculine about having a natural talent for female-coded tasks. Since most of the things we tend to view as "achievement"-oriented are male-coded (not by accident, I'm sure), we also get the general attitude that "natural" talent is masculine. I'm no sociologist, but it seems a reasonable hypothesis.


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Post by Lemminkainen on Mon Nov 03, 2014 7:22 pm

@Takuan: Oooh, interesting argument. You just made me update my priors.

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Post by kath on Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:43 pm

Nearly, I think your take on it makes a lot of sense. And thanks for adding the links, that's the type of research I was thinking of. I usually see the research referenced in other commentary.

Here's another link: http://www.montana.edu/news/12368/bragging-rights-msu-study-shows-that-interventions-help-women-s-reluctance-to-discuss-accomplishments

And this one is interesting: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119239/transgender-people-can-explain-why-women-dont-advance-work

It makes sense that if men/boys can expect their take on it to be trusted, it would be a lot easier to say "because I am just that fantastic" - women who say that will get "are you sure someone else didn't help you?" - other people have helped both the men and the women, but the women start listing them off preemptively because they expect to be asked.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Nov 03, 2014 9:04 pm

kath wrote:It makes sense that if men/boys can expect their take on it to be trusted, it would be a lot easier to say "because I am just that fantastic" - women who say that will get "are you sure someone else didn't help you?" - other people have helped both the men and the women, but the women start listing them off preemptively because they expect to be asked.

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What I find odd about this whole thing is that to me, the "feminine" trait seems the more favorable and empowering: getting help from others implies good people-skills and the ability to make connections with people who will care about and support you; working hard to earn your place implies a sense of personal responsibility and a strong will; spending time on endeavors that aren't your strongest suit or that you can't perform effortlessly implies passion, personality, and in some cases altruism. Whereas the "masculine" habit of pretending it's all about personal aptitudes feels more like...resigning to placement within an arbitrary caste system and letting external factors (e.g. what you're born into) control your destiny (so to speak). So it's odd that in much of American culture, e.g. white collar offices, people seem to assume the reverse is somehow true....
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Post by kath on Mon Nov 03, 2014 11:34 pm

Well and especially since each of is where we are both because of some things that genetics gave us (which I am taking to indicate anything "innate") and some things we got help with, it doesn't make a ton of sense to saddle either one with a value judgement.

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Post by Mel on Mon Nov 03, 2014 11:50 pm

Isn't there also research showing that school-age boys tend to get praise in terms of effort ("Good try!" "You worked really hard on that!") and girls tend to get praise in terms of talent/ability ("You're such a good speller!" "You're so smart!"), which may hold girls back from trying fields that require a lot of effort to get good at because they start to assume that their skills are based on what they can do right away, whereas boys assume they can work to get better? It seems like there could be some interesting intersections between that and the ideas above.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:28 am

Mel wrote:Isn't there also research showing that school-age boys tend to get praise in terms of effort ("Good try!" "You worked really hard on that!") and girls tend to get praise in terms of talent/ability ("You're such a good speller!" "You're so smart!"), which may hold girls back from trying fields that require a lot of effort to get good at because they start to assume that their skills are based on what they can do right away, whereas boys assume they can work to get better?  It seems like there could be some interesting intersections between that and the ideas above.

I actually meant to mention (and ask about) this earlier—my experience has been that schoolboys tend to get criticism in terms of effort, too. My friends and I would be told things like "your grades could be so much better if you'd only apply yourselves". And just in general, if there was anything we weren't great at, that was our fault or our responsibility to do better next time. I don't think this has much to do with race/culture, since these messages generally came more from teachers, coaches, and other adults—not our parents (mine were supportive in the best ways—didn't make unreasonable demands, but also didn't heckle or bully my teachers—makes sense given that they're teachers too).
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Post by The Wisp on Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:37 am

nearly_takuan wrote:
Mel wrote:Isn't there also research showing that school-age boys tend to get praise in terms of effort ("Good try!" "You worked really hard on that!") and girls tend to get praise in terms of talent/ability ("You're such a good speller!" "You're so smart!"), which may hold girls back from trying fields that require a lot of effort to get good at because they start to assume that their skills are based on what they can do right away, whereas boys assume they can work to get better?  It seems like there could be some interesting intersections between that and the ideas above.

I actually meant to mention (and ask about) this earlier—my experience has been that schoolboys tend to get criticism in terms of effort, too. My friends and I would be told things like "your grades could be so much better if you'd only apply yourselves". And just in general, if there was anything we weren't great at, that was our fault or our responsibility to do better next time. I don't think this has much to do with race/culture, since these messages generally came more from teachers, coaches, and other adults—not our parents (mine were supportive in the best ways—didn't make unreasonable demands, but also didn't heckle or bully my teachers—makes sense given that they're teachers too).

Just speaking for myself, I got the worst of both worlds. When I did well, I was praised as being naturally talented (which adds a lot of pressure and has a number of negative side effects down the line and sets up that level of success as a baseline rather than an accomplishment), but when I poorly (anything below a 'B') I definitely got the "why don't you apply yourself", "you need to learn to work", "swallow your pride and get help". Ugh.
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Post by reboot on Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:42 am

This thread has been interesting to read for me because I think I am one of the not naturally smart people on the forum. In school I talked about an showed working hard academically because I had no choice. I had to work hard to even to get decent grades (I never did have good ones). Intelligence was undervalued where I grew up, but working hard in school if you were a woman who was going to have difficulty marrying was OK, because obviously you needed something to fall back on. For pretty women it was considered a waste and something that would hurt your chances of a relationship. For men it was a bit more nuanced. Being a mining community, anything that looked like it was good for "practical" skills was valued, so math, physics, chemistry and auto shop class work was valued, English, history, languages much less so. Biology was a weird middle ground where it was OK for boys and girls to be good at.
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