Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Feminism at 9:30am!?

A lot of you are hankering for more posts, so I thought I'd throw in a little anecdote I was thinking about earlier this week.

In one of my seminars the professor was discussing policies which accomodate minorities, and the dangers of extending legal exceptions to everyone that asks for it. She used this metaphor: "it becomes a run in the stocking." This struck me as humorous at first, but I think it is also significant in a feministy way. In general, experiencing a run in one's stocking is an exclusively female experience; while men can understand the concept (things get out of hand - you can't stop a run from getting bigger) the expression speaks most directly to women. This is pretty revolutionary in an serious academic context (don't think so? look at the composition of our tenured faculty).

It reminded me of a story a science professor once told me, about an experiment he does one of the first days of lab. First, he has groups test the absorbtion capacity of paper towels - and for the most part the men in the class take charge of the groups in planning and executing the experiment. Then, he has them repeat the experiment with tampons - and the women are the ones who take charge.

The point is not that we should use tampons in the science lab instead of paper towels, or employ women-only metaphors in all of our speech. These stories just confirm the assertion of this blog that little things matter: discussions and space can be skewed to exclude certain populations.

1 comment:

Taylor Davis said...

Yeah I liked this post. I probably wouldnt want to implement an experiment with a tampon; I'm not sure why not. I think its more about fear of the unknown, and not so much disgust.