Josh seems to be the ringleader, and will hammer out details in comments. I'll update the post as plans firm up.
Thoreau (a physics professor who blogs with Jim Henley over at Unqualified Offerings) posts on discussions he's had of causes of gender gaps in the sciences, and notes that he hears enough contradictory theories that he's not relying on any of them. That seems to me like the only reasonable reaction.
But the specific theory he's talking about, that women are put off by fields that are both math-heavy and require a lot of hands-on work (contradicted by a theory that the best way to involve women in technical fields is to teach them in a hands-on way) brings up some interesting stuff for me. As a dropout from physics, this issue doesn't actually have anything to do with why I left (I quit being a physics major before ever hitting a lab). Nonetheless, while I don't have a lot of other obvious gender-based intellectual insecurities, I am fascinated by hands-on fixy stuff, while being extremely nervous and insecure about it in a very gender-role based way.
I really enjoy making things with my hands, and in girly contexts (cooking, knitting/crochet/other forms of playing with string) I'm confident and competent. Doing stuff with my hands in a more male-identified context, I also enjoy like crazy when I've done it -- I have really fond memories of building a frame for a compost heap with my father, or putting up drywall and molding for a room in my college co-op, or fixing my bike. But, and I'm not sure why (that is, I don't have traumatic memories of boys making fun of me for manual incompetence), I'm wildly insecure and easily discouraged about using manual skills in a male-identified context. As soon as I fuck anything up at all, or even before I've fucked anything up, I'm convinced that I'm doing whatever it is slower and worse than someone competent would, and if there's anyone I think is more skilled around to defer to, I'll fade into the background at the smallest excuse. And I just don't start fixy projects on my own. Happy memories of doing fixy stuff have usually involved having someone competent and male around visibly reacting to whatever I'm doing as if it were competent; it's not that I need a lot of stroking, but I do need someone that I emotionally accept as authoritative treating what I'm doing as unexceptionably normal and useful. It's as if I need permission.
I don't get this about myself -- in most areas, I don't seem to have gendered insecurities at all: I'm verbally aggressive, confident about my quantitative skills, and so on. But anything involving using tools tends to snap me into being a bit of a shrinking violet, despite the fact that I'm attracted to and enjoy that kind of thing. So, I dunno -- it's another anecdote, not data -- but if my issues in this area are common at all, I can see both the theories Thoreau mentioned being true: that hands-on work was offputting to at least some women because they feel insecure about their competence, but that teaching that required students to do hands-on work in a way that demanded engagement from all the students, and supported them in the development of manual skills, might be a way to overcome those insecurities.
In short, bring back shop class for everyone! Or something.
Some bandmates and I were filmed for the local news last week, a bit of a promo thing for a show we're playing. Good lord did I stress about how it was going to turn out.
The whole filming couldn't have lasted half an hour, but then a whole week went by before airing. I began to wonder: How stupid did I sound? No. Seriously. I need to know. How stupid? I almost didn't even want to watch it. Gah.
Anyhoozle, it just aired and: totally fine. A nice fluffy promotional piece. (Thanks, local media!) But, holy shit would I have trouble being consistently in front of a camera and then trying to remember exactly what I said. Noted.
They give you a peri-bottle so that you can spray your nether regions while you pee, and keep it from stinging. But it turns out you don't need to bother when you're totally incontinent and upon standing up, you just pee all over your hospital room floor. That was the most surprising post-labor symptom. Retraining myself to be potty-trained.
My own pet theory on this sort of thing is that lots of people have opinions about How Certain Things Should Be Just So. And that's fine, as long as they realize that such opinions are pretty likely to be random and non-universalizable. And, as such, you know, don't take yourself too seriously, for that way lies the border of toolishness.
My own peeves, for example, include entirely random things about cooking ("Of COURSE we should let that sit for awhile; are you nuts?!"), people making left hand turns at green lights requiring that the left turner yield ("Of COURSE you should be out in the intersection; are you nuts?!"), and the superiority of keyboard commands over the use of the mouse ("Of COURSE you're an idiot; are you an idiot?!")
But I'm not really losing sleep over it.
I can't stop playing with xtranormal.com. It's like a disease. And speaking of diseases, I'm under the weather and home from work, so I thought I'd throw this post up in the hope that a few of you would sign up and post your own in the comments. Here I am now. Entertain me.
I have to admit: sending a stripper to pretend to be you at your ten-year high school reunion is a pretty damn hilarious idea.
But I'll probably just skip all that legwork (I mean, seriously, she ran cabling? all over a hotel?) and avoid next year's shit show altogether. I mean, they're all on Facebook anyway.
My gym has a big poster of this ad right by the door. I know it's meant as inspiration but I read it as a taunting "How'd your interview go, Mr. Laid Off? Didn't get it? It's because YOU'RE FAT AND YOU SUCK!"
I find it depressing enough. I can't imagine if I were unemployed.
Hi all! Thanks for all the warm wishes. Hawaiian Punch is asleep on me as I type this. I feel very blissed out.
Yesterday found me in a doctor's waiting room seated next to a large television that was blaring Glenn Beck's tea party at the Alamo.
Feeling irritable (I was in the doctor's office, after all, and for a tetanus shot, meaning it's my own grumpy fault that I'm there), I wavered among my choices: poll the other waiting room inhabitants about changing the channel or turning the thing off, ask the staff to do so, or tune out and read my newspaper, chalking it up to being cranky.
As it happens, I went with option #3, muttering a few choice words under my breath as Beck bloviated about American students not learning about history (no, he didn't mention his specific lesson plans for the "Battle of the Alamo" session). But I do wonder if there was a way to handle that sort of situation without being That Person Who's Feeling a Need to Cause a Scene About the Television OH MY GOD.
Also, I guess I am a liberal fascist; I want to control the TV for the whole goddamned room, goddamnit.
I don't even know what to say about this hot mess except I suppose it was inevitable: a Modern Love about The Wire.