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Just don’t do it

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This is a great examination of the relentless pathologization of “women’s speech”

Just don’t do it.

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About easilyriled

My mom was Edith, my dad was John. I have a brother, who is Shawn. I have many friends and allies and mentors in my life. I'm white, over-educated, under-employed, messy, funny, smart, lesbian, feminist "Not the fun kind", as Andrea Dworkin said. But I, like the feminists I hang with, ARE fun. I play accordion better than I did, and i'm learning the concertina. Slowly.

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  1. By chance a few days ago I read the article about using “just” and it got me thinking about permission words. Today at work I watched myself while writing emails to see how I phrased things. At the moment I work in a very traditional business environment with mainly men in the senior ranks. Also, because it’s in the Middle East, there’s a definite cultural spin that makes it more difficult for women to be promoted, be taken seriously, and to hold our ground while the boys make their little clubs around us.

    Today I was writing an email to this guy from another department whom I am helping to do something. He’s not terribly capable and he typically tries to make up for being unprepared and useless by blustering through meetings and then following up with an email cc’d to his boss that lays out the plans I have given him as if he had come up with them on his own. I don’t care about that; we all know who the smart one is. But today, when I wrote him the latest email, I was very conscious not to use any “nice” language that might give him the impression that I’m handing authority over to him, or worse – letting him off the hook with more gentle language to try not to embarrass him when in fact he’s failed to meet the deadlines. No great results yet; but it was an interesting exercise to pay attention to whether the language I think is simply polite and helps us all get along in the push-pull of work, is actually interpreted differently by some of my colleagues. I’m sure it probably is.

    And for the record, I definitely say ‘sorry’ more than some people – maybe because I’m Canadian, maybe because I’m a woman. But I rarely mean it. In fact it often means the opposite. It’s like the English (I’ve learned from being married to one). They often say the *exact opposite* of what they mean. That’s their cultural code. Hard luck that no one understands but them 🙂 So for instance they’ll say, “I do apologize, it must be entirely my fault but we seem to have a misunderstanding about the deadline.” In reality what they’re saying is: “You idiot. You’ve screwed up and missed the deadline.” So when I say “sorry, may I get past you?” what I mean is: “Hey, get out of my way; I’m coming through.”

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