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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Self-deprecation

The reason I wrote the previous post is that I got in touch with a colleague I’ve been working with on a project to tell her I’m going to be at the conference in Baltimore next week and “hey, I’d love finally to meet you in person.”

The colleague was very into the idea of hanging out together at the conference but, she added,”I have to warn you that I’m a very boring person.”

I can’t imagine a male Hispanist referring to himself as boring but female scholars do the self-deprecating thing all the time. The goal, I’m guessing, is to get people to start reassuring, “No, you are not in the least boring! In fact, you are super fascinating!”

Problem is, nobody will do this for you unless they know and care about you. Everybody else will take you at your word. They will file your name and the word “boring” next to each other in their brains. 

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7 thoughts on “Self-deprecation

  1. I agree, no man (no matter how boring) will ever tell you that he’s boring. (Or use any other self-deprecating adjective). Male socialization is such that it’s okay for them to think highly of themselves and even be boastful, whether warranted or not. As for women, some are probably fishing for compliments when they say they are boring, but I think most aren’t. Women are taught from an early age to make themselves small, to not be boastful, to not command attention, and for many (not all, thankfully), this message goes through loud and clear. And many do end up viewing themselves as really small and boring and unimportant , even though they are highly accomplished. (These notions cut across genders, of course, but here I am talking about averages.)

    It may be that your colleague thinks she’s boring, is fine with it, and is just trying to manage expectations (so as not to disappoint you). For instance, I will often tell people that I am boring and I have no interest in them reassuring me. The thing is, I really am boring; it’s a fact — I don’t live a life that translates easily into exciting small talk or an exciting TV show. I have a job that I love and that is fulfilling but in a way that seems to only be clear to other academics or knowledge workers while it seems boring to everyone else (the joy of intellectual work is like having an orgasm — you really cannot explain how it feels to someone who has never felt it); I love to talk about kids, my job, other people’s jobs, pop culture, and might even talk sports, but I don’t like to talk politics or religion because I don’t think I am knowledgeable enough. Never been a crazy parties, don’t like to go out and stay late too much. I am a regular, boring person, and that’s totally fine with me. Maybe that’s what your colleague is trying to communicate — that’s she’s a regular person?

    Incidentally, here’s a suitable comic!

    http://maximumble.thebookofbiff.com/2017/03/10/1496-introvert/

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    • “I agree, no man (no matter how boring) will ever tell you that he’s boring. (Or use any other self-deprecating adjective).”

      • Especially a male in Hispanic studies.

      “Women are taught from an early age to make themselves small, to not be boastful, to not command attention, and for many (not all, thankfully), this message goes through loud and clear.”

      • Here is the problem. Let’s take Trump supporters. They were socialized throughout their whole lives to vote Republican. They don’t have the sophisticated minds of the highly educated women with PhDs who spend their whole lives cultivating their intellects. Yet we condemn them and expect them somehow easily to ditch their entire socialization and go vote for Hillary. How can we expect that? If we can’t do it, can’t grow bigger than our socialization, how can they?

      “The thing is, I really am boring; it’s a fact — I don’t live a life that translates easily into exciting small talk or an exciting TV show.”

      • I also have a very staid, regular life but my and your blogs are super popular, so I guess people do see us as fascinating. 🙂

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  2. I agree, no man (no matter how boring) will ever tell you that he’s boring. (Or use any other self-deprecating adjective).

    This is false. (Remember, it takes only one counterexample to prove decisively and for all time the falsehood of such a universal statement.)

    Until I was in my sixties, I often used self-deprecating adjectives to describe myself, such as absent-minded, among many others. I eventually decided that it was pointless to do this.

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  3. Shakti on said:

    “She’s such a good listener!” -so many boring men.
    😂😪

    “Enough about you, let’s get back to me.” – same dudes.😑

    Like

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