The Female Side

Because this side of the internet doesn’t have a lot of women, it’s common for us to feel isolated or unheard. So this is an open thread dedicated to any of the women who drop by. Chat, vent, post your favorite math problems, whatever you want (erm, within reason.) We understand.

(If any of our fine male readers wish to chat, there are folks already doing so in the About page, or anyone can post off-topic thing on any thread, really it’s fine.)

Since this is a new endeavor, we might change things to be more useful over time.

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42 thoughts on “The Female Side

  1. So, my little name goof acquired me a squicky follower to a blog I had not real intention of starting. Maybe if it had been, like, the 352nd follower or something, I wouldn’t have cared either way… This seems relevant to the specific motivation for creating this page…

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  2. I wonder if you have any thoughts on a reverse of the seemingly “typical” political coupling. My husband is a card-carrying bona fide pro-open borders socialist, while I’m a Trump-voting HBD-realist libertarian/conservative mashup.

    In terms of gender dynamics we’re pretty traditional, I keep house, do all the cooking, wait on him etc. and if we can swing it financially, we hope I can be a homeschooling SAHM in the near future. My natural personality is very deferential non-confrontational so the political difference hasn’t caused any issues so far, although I’m not sure how much he really understands my positions since I defer to his opinions in the day-to-day. I even offered to vote for whoever he told me to, but he passed on that so I voted Trump.

    I guess I don’t really have a definitive question, I’m just curious what thoughts you might have on this dynamic and what pitfalls to look out for. I’ve been following your blog for a long time (and I’ve seen you around reddit’s RPW subs in the past) and to say I’m a huge fan would be putting it mildly.

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    • Are you my long-lost identical twin? (I’m pretty sure I don’t have one, for the record… my mom distinctly remembers giving birth to me and only me.)

      I’m kind of in a similar situation, except my other half is more of a go-with-current-popular-“wisdom”-liberal. The slight irony is that when we met, he was much more anti-immigration and I was more of a classic libertarian open-borders advocate… (ironically, he’s not originally from this country, and I don’t think his mom was entirely legit when they arrived here originally, and I think she’s a big reason I’ve become, if not anti-immigration, far less open-borders. I was always big on security, and with her being a not-so-nice-person, plus of British heritage from an Anglosphere country, I was able to overcome my issues with the racism/xenophobia angle…). I’m also more confrontational at times, from a long line of midwestern women who were anything but pushovers. I actually offered to let him tell me what to do, but he realized that it kind of defeated the purpose if I had voted for Hilary because my husband told me to… That said, I kind of am like that one film director: “Um, I think I voted for the libertarian or something.” (I remember exactly who I voted for, and it wasn’t Johnson, but if you see me in real life, I’ll probably say I voted for the libertarian or something.)

      (Word of warning to liberals looking to “convert” libertarians: Be careful how you “disprove” libertarianism, lest you turn your prospective liberal into a right-winger by mistake…)

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    • Hi, and thanks for the kind words about my blog. Sorry I haven’t been around RPW much; it’s really just a time issue.

      If you two are happy together and the dynamic works for you, that’s the most important thing. Outsiders are often terrible judges of how well things are going inside a marriage.

      But I do think one of the things that helps a marriage be healthy is for the partners to have something they enjoy discussing/debating. If they agree on everything, then what is there to talk about? Of course it is a matter of degree; disagreeing about everything would be an issue. Since you are married, I assume there are actually a great many practical parts of life you agree on.

      You probably already know this, but the one thing I’ve seen with socialists that makes marriages go badly is when they get into the poly community. Obviously I have no idea whether that’s a potential issue in your life.

      Have a lovely 4th!

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    • I felt emotional reading this- it could have been me that wrote it. In fact, since this page was created, I’ve been trying to figure out how to pretty much ask this question. My husband isn’t a socialist, but more of a mainstream liberal. I completely understand where he is coming from- he grew up fairly poor, blue collar Union father, in a poor and very homogenous state. He is very empathetic, and that is one of the main drivers to his views. I have the same thing where I don’t make my views known too forcefully and tend to defer, especially since the election of Trump, because everyone is just SO angry right now (and I didn’t even vote for Trump.) I don’t like confrontation either.

      I also have an extra added layer to this as where I live is in one of the most liberal cities, I went to art school, and work in the art field (though I’m a SAHM now and just freelance), and consequently all of my friends/acquaintances/coworkers are pretty liberal- in fact, I think I’ve only ever really had like 2.5 libertarian-ish friends, ever, and none of them are women. There seems to be a bit more added pressure on women to stick together with the mainstream liberal views (though I guess I don’t really know, just my perception.) To be clear, I absolutely love my husband, I love the work I do, where I live, and my friends. I realize that I made choices every step of the way to be where I am and around the people I’m around. But still, it is just weird sometimes- like a bit isolating, or like everyone can get excited and bond and make work about ideas that don’t seem right or truthful to me. I struggle with a lot of self doubt about my beliefs, and also sometimes guilt that I don’t or can’t make a better effort to get people around me to understand ideas that I think are more truthful, if that makes sense. It’s doubly hard because I’m supposed to be trained to communicate ideas visually and effectively.

      I also don’t really have a question, but it meant a lot to me to read your comment so I wanted to respond.

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      • My apologies for the delay in unscreening your comment; I’ve been out of town.

        I sympathize with the feeling of being surrounded by liberals all the time (or at least most of the time, in my case.) To me… there is this sense that even among otherwise very nice and sweet people, conservative (or just unusual) views are not just unorthodox, but evoke downright angry reactions. Even what ought to be very simple conversations like “So how much funding should schools have?” (and I am pretty pro-public schools) degenerates into “oh you’re just one of those conservatives who hates education and wants everyone to be dumb.’ (I am only paraphrasing a tiny bit.) Outside of certain close friends/family members, I simply don’t talk about politics in any meaningful way with anyone in real life anymore. There is, as you say, too much anger.

        Welcome to the thread.

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      • I am in a similar situation! My husband doesn’t really care much about politics, being of an engineering-bent, and preferring to think about his work. But to the extent that he does think about them, he tends to go along with the mainstream liberal view of things, with one major exception. My views, on the other hand, are what are these days considered radically rightwing. My husband has become more conservative on a several important topics, but we’re not on the same page about others. There are aspects of this that were strange in the past—like when I was less feminist (in the modern sense of the word) than my husband. But he has been very open to looking at things differently, on that particular topic, and some others. I think his previous view was more a function of the fact that he is a conventional guy and conventional guys go along with the conventional wisdom, and he had no cause to think about it more deeply.

        Anyway, I can relate! And I also live in a very liberal area, so I relate to that difficulty too.

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      • It’s funny that so many of us here relate this basic situation.
        Mine is a little different, in that my husband is more conservative than I am, (if we are going to use the conservative-liberal axis) but we still live in a very liberal area, have lots of liberal neighbors and extended family, etc.

        Welcome!

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  3. THIS exactly, same, even down to the education conversation you mention. I had a very awkward weekend in the beginning of the year trying to explain why I didn’t want to go to the Women’s March, and it was just like, hostility, anger, and disappointment all around. I think I semi-lost someone I was in the process of becoming friends with (that I really, genuinely like) over it, and it was literally from one fairly mellow comment over text message. It felt absolutely horrible.

    Something I’d love to discuss with other like-minded people would be…trying to think how to phrase this… how to talk about things (or what to talk about) with others and get them to at the very least think, hmm, I hadn’t considered it that way before. If things are true, they have a way of sticking in your mind, and sticking to other ideas (or at least they do for me.) I think it has to be a little…not exactly sneaky… but not, like, trigger the shield, if that makes sense. I’ve been considering this question for a while. The left is AMAZING at doing this- at making art that effectively communicates their viewpoint (maybe because the left tends to come at issues from an emotional place, which is just easier to show, or lends itself better to visual art, than complex arguments?)

    Sorry if that came out vague. I have a few semi-formed ideas but it’s still vague in my mind as well :)

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    • I get it. My stomach for getting into debates has gone way, way down. As far as marches go, my husband tried to get me to go to the science one last year, and I’m mostly honest with him. I was almost convinced that it was a non-partisan event, but it didn’t take much reading to convince me otherwise. As far as the women’s march, if my husband ever tries to get me to that one, I think I’ll go with a sign saying “My husband made me come here”…

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      • I’ve used the small crazy children who don’t like crowds as an excuse, and I’m starting to worry that some day someone will want to be “helpful” and offer to babysit so I can go to a march…

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      • Ha, I used “small child!” as an excuse for the first one, it wore a little thin at this year’s (hence the tense conversations). Pretty excited to be able to bust out “well, now there’s a rambunctious, restless toddler AND a new baby!” for this next one.

        Sadly, most people here just bring their kids and make them carry signs/wear shirts/chant so that they can post photos and videos of them on social media and feel good about themselves. Pure vanity and status signaling.

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      • Oh, and I’m sure that the people posting pictures of their kids holding up signs at the women’s march and such would be totally cool with pictures of kids holding up signs at a pro-life march, right?

        (I will say, my super-duper-catholic friends never assume that I’m even religious, and really don’t put me in awkward situations, unlike…)

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      • I don’t even talk politics with my kids if I can help it, because I don’t want them to feel pressured to take a particular political point of view. Kids tend to just reflect their parents’ opinions, because they don’t have much experience with the real world.

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  4. Thanks for making this thread! Just wanted to say I’ve been reading your blog for about a year, since I first encountered it via Social Matter, and I’m a big fan. I am especially interested in your homeschooling posts.

    I would like to homeschool my kids, who are not yet school age, but I’m struggling with social pressure to be a career woman rather than stay home, and haven’t even dared to bring up the idea of homeschooling with most people in my social circles. Have you encountered this pressure to “lean in” and also to not homeschool, and if so, how do you deal with it? (Since you homeschool, I am assuming you don’t also have a job, but I know that is not necessarily the case, so please correct me if I’m wrong.) For me, the pressure is very stressful, because I don’t like people pinning the usual stereotypes about the stay-at-home mom (e.g., stupid, lazy, uninteresting) or homeschooler (e.g., weird, fanatical, irrational) on me. Though I am willing to sacrifice the approval of others to do what I think is right, and ultimately will, it’s still emotionally difficult to have people judge your decisions negatively.

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    • Hello and welcome. I’m glad you enjoy the homeschooling posts. I enjoy writing them.

      To be honest, I do not have a big social group, and thus do not suffer much peer pressure in any direction. I’ve been a stay at home mom since my eldest was born, so the socializing I do has been shaped by that for years. I have a mom’s group that’s mostly other SAHMs. They’re not super best friends or anything, but they’re nice ladies and clearly intelligent.

      You might want to check out your areas homeschooling groups or other mom groups. I know yours are too little now for schooling, but you might find some other, similarly minded moms of home-pre-schoolers.

      If you’re religious, your [religious organization] probably also has resources for moms/homeschoolers.

      Second: so I think about social class and social signaling a lot. Each group has its own signals, but if you can do them right, it seems like you can side-step a lot of judgment. For example, one of the moms in my mom’s group is always very nicely dressed and always carrying some thick book she’s eager to discuss. (She’s a huge Hamilton fan, but I try to ignore that.) You would never mistake her for someone lazy or stupid. I do not think people who know you already will suddenly think you are lazy or stupid or any such thing just because you begin homeschooling your kids, and strangers do not need to know.

      It helps, I think, that at least part of my family is supportive, and that I truly love teaching my kids. For me, at least, that joy overrides just about everything else.

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    • I am a SAHM that just had my second, and live in liberal NYC :) I knew I was going to quit my job when I was pregnant with my first 2 years ago. I encountered a little bit of pressure towards “leaning in”, but the way that mostly played out was like, other pregnant women at my work would make comments like, “I could NEVER stay home… too boring.” Not malicious or directed at me, just their own signaling, I think. Or, I had a few comments like, “You know, your husband could also be the one to stay home…” I didn’t feel bothered by these because I think staying home with your young children has the weight of just being right on your side. I knew roughly how much the women at my old company made, and I therefore knew it didn’t check out financially either.

      After I had my son, I made other Mom friends, some stay home although not as many as I’d like. The pressure at this point is just that among my old friends without kids and working moms, a major topic of conversation and weird sort of bragging rights comes from talking about work, office politics, getting promotions, etc whenever people get together. I start to find it boring, and yes, occasionally I do feel the fear of missing out or feeling different. But on the other hand, I’m in my mid 30’s and also see the other side, where numerous friends waited too long, can’t have kids, are going through IVF, etc. It’s always a trade off, you can’t do everything, and having and enjoying children is way better than the alternative.

      For me one key is if you’re doing something different than other people, never act embarrassed, never feel the need to explain or back down or seem unsure. I was military and moved a lot as a kid, and being the kind of weird new person every few years, that’s what I learned works. You have to be confidant in your choices and do the opposite of hide them. Also, as EvX says, social signaling. Something that works for me is: my job was in a creative field (but I think this would work for non creative fields as well), and I have some personal projects going that are related but weirder than what I could do at work. I feel like being a SAHM is actually a good time to do a personal project exploring something you really care about. This way you have some things that are interesting to you and separate from the kids- a bit of your own identity to talk about. I post progress and try to connect with others doing similar things. You don’t really have to put a ton of time in, just be relatively consistent.

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  5. Just a thought I recently had: Sometimes, someone needs helpful advice, but the actual helpful advice you can think of would expose you to political criticism, whether or not it is deserved. (As in, certain issues and certain people will not accept “devil’s advocate” excuse, even if you were honestly just being a devil’s advocate, and logically contemplating views you don’t personally hold. Granted, I have found that can be a slippery slope, though usually only after I’ve been criticized for merely entertaining logical consequences. Any logical consequences I entertain in private tend to get worked through and discarded. Hmmm…)

    So: Do you (a) ignore helping someone, even though you really do feel an instinct to do so, even with just an acquaintance or friend-of-friend, or (b) offer a slightly weaker version of the advice, and quickly back off and play dumb if someone declares it to be “badthink”, (c) offer the full version of the advice, and risk social censure when that could be pretty bad for you and your kids, or (d) magically offer a strong version of the advice that nobody notices is actually pretty “deplorable” and somehow get away with it?

    (I’m posting this here rather than in the more general open thread because my observation has been that men, in general, only seem to be bothered when there’s actual professional or safety results of something they say, rather than mere social exclusion or gossip.)

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    • Plus, your post really fits with the whole reason for the thread’s existence.

      I generally prefer to have more specific, concrete examples to work with, otherwise I fear I might be giving advice for slightly different situations than intended, and slight differences can make a big difference.

      In the case that social censure could be bad for my kids, I would do nothing. I wouldn’t risk my kids for anything.

      But assuming a case where they aren’t involved and you want to give advice, I think the best route is:

      1. Be succinct and straightforward.
      2. If it’s anything that might be embarrassing to the recipient, try a private channel like DMs rather than a public channel like a FB post.

      Too many words confuses people and leaves room open for confusion and argument. I have often tried to bolster and qualify and hedge my arguments with a lot of “now I’m not trying to be controversial, but…” or a long explanation of why my argument wasn’t really in violation of SJW principle X, and that almost always backfired. A simple statement: “There is a lot of crime in that neighborhood,” “Exercise is really good for you,” “What you want is totally normal; we call it “marriage”,” “No, you shouldn’t put up with that bullshit,” “You are over-complicating your life; it sounds like you will have to pick your priorities,” “Here are some studies on happiness and what makes people feel fulfilled,” gets the idea across without excess baggage.

      Any other thoughts?

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      • In this case, it’s a friend-of-a-friend that I don’t personally know, so I’m inclined to just keep my trap shut. If it were a close personal friend specifically asking me for advice, this would be a case where either cutting all news to the extent practical or making a determined effort to honestly understand the “other side” would be good, but it’s kind of hard to really say that without implying that “no, it’s not really that bad” which is tantamount to saying “I agree with the worst-case-scenario of what you think the other side is doing.” (and, really, who cares if you’re mostly-really-a-libertarian, since their idea of a libertarian is a caricature of Ayn Rand…)

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  6. Does anyone else need moral support after watching everyone go nuts? The disconnect between my impressions and what other people (especially those I respect and that are very smart) think is making me feel a little insane. It leaves me confused, second guessing myself, and just not wanting to read or engage with anything. Then I feel resentful that every area of life increasingly seems to be a battleground where we’re forced to declare a correct opinion or be ostracized. It’s stressful.

    Also: would anyone be interested in chatting in a slack group or somewhere else that’s not a public message board? Not sure how to go about that, just throwing it out there. I’d love to chat with other like minded women :)

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  7. For sure- I’m not really interested in stuff like celebrity pop culture/sporting events small talk, but it does seem like there used to be stuff to talk about where I didn’t have to constantly take a position or declare which side I was on so others knew whether to hate me or not. As if every single aspect of life has no importance unless the “bad guys” are being fought. I’m being a little dramatic here because I don’t think anyone actually hates me at the moment, but that also may be because I mostly keep my mouth shut. It feels like I’m walking on eggshells. There’s something to be said for pleasant small talk- it’s how you maintain peace and get to know others slowly.

    I never use Twitter, though I might have an old account I started and never updated from years ago. Would that be public though?

    That link is right on, that’s exactly it- and I’m in the middle like, oh my god, what is really going on here?

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    • I barely watch TV and am really the last person to do pop culture conversations, but after about half an hour around my [very liberal Puritan relations] I’m about ready to compare Beyonce and Elvis’s musical talents if it will just get people to talk about something calm and safe.

      Typical conversation: Me: Oh I see you have a sign for [candidate] in your yard. What are they campaigning on?
      Relatives: Typical Dem stuff, More school funding.
      Me: You know, I think the local schools are actually pretty well funded. Did you know kiddo’s kindergarten teacher made 70k a year + benefits?
      Relatives: Sudden anger; how can you possibly say schools are adequately funded? You must be one of those Trump people who hate education and want everyone to be ignorant.
      Me: Whoah, whoah whoah.

      Climate change shouldn’t be political. We should be able to discuss *facts* without jumping up and down like ninnies.

      If you prefer Slack, that’s probably totally doable. I’m not picky.

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