Q

At the art fair, I bought a ring made out of an old typewriter key with the letter Q. I wanted K for “Klara” but they were out of Ks. So I bought Q, which is my nickname for my kid. Now I’m thinking, though, that people might misunderstand. Not that I care but it might look like I’m trolling. Especially in academia.

Performative Victimhood

Yeah, aha. Tell yourself more of those stories, they are so cute. I grew up in a totalitarian USSR and then amidst the bandit wars. And where is my Marxism-Leninism or my belief in whoring myself out for money to rich old bandits?

You either are a figure of intellectual authority to your children or you aren’t. If you’ve fallen down on the job so badly that some creep online has to step in, then that’s on you.

Society, schmociety, the dog stole my homework. Nobody wants to take responsibility for anything. Everybody is such a victim.

Didn’t expect this vapid cluckery from Deneen who is a brilliant thinker.

No Insight

I know I keep writing about these differences in male / female students but they are so glaring to somebody from Ukraine because our reality is the exact opposite. I went to two colleges back in Ukraine and never heard male voices at all. The guys sat in the back and were extremely mousy. But in Ukraine I know exactly what produced this – fatherlessness, divorced or never-married domineering mothers, male shortages after WWII that resulted in a coddling of men, men being hit harder by totalitarianism. All of this created a deeply abnormal situation.

And by the way, these female US students, if we had zero men in class, they’d be magically transformed. They’d ask, participate and burst with insight. I know this for a fact because it happened. I’d ask the female students, “what’s up? Why are you so different today?” “It’s because there are no boys here,” they say.

Given how hungrily “boys” react to my very non-mousy personality, I’m guessing this belief that boys like mousy girls isn’t coming from the boys. But it’s not coming from TV or music or anything else. What, then?

I’ve got no useful insight here.

Gender Differences

Back in Ukraine, the students who’d go to extracurricular events, lectures, exhibits, talks would be 100% female. Here, they are 100% male. I invited students from one of my classes to Friday’s talk. How many female students came from a class that’s 70% female? Zero. How many male students came? All of the American ones (not immigrants).

Also, here female students ask questions about what’s on the test and the minutiae of course organization. I don’t remember a single time when a female student asked about larger issues, the meaning of life, or anything I’d call a philosophical question. Male students ask such questions at every opportunity. Male students also ask questions about me, how I became interested in Hispanic Studies, what languages I dream in, what was the most memorable conference talk I’ve given, what my first day of teaching was like, etc.

The only two female students in my whole career that would come by my office to chat and not be either mousy or indifferent both had mental illness (bipolar and schizophrenia).

The funniest thing is that we have a female GA from Egypt. She’s Muslim in a hijab. Her way of interacting is much closer to an American male than American female. She’s freer, louder, more curious, and more self-assured than a typical female student around here.

I have no idea what parenting strategies around here create this difference and push women to spend their lives wondering if they are pleasing enough. It’s a mystery that I’ve wondered about for years. I make enormous efforts not to spend more time in class hanging out next to male students’ tables because they simply have more interesting, less constrained and robotic discussions.

Literature Lesson: Ring Lardner’s “The Golden Honeymoon”

This is a very cute, sweet story about an elderly couple going to Florida to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. The story is saccharine sweet but still has value because it’s less a short story than what in Spanish we know as a costumbrista piece. Costumbrismo is a genre that describes, in a chatty, humorous tone, how people conduct their daily lives in a specific region, city or neighborhood.

From this story we find out what it was like to vacation in Florida in the 1920s. How long did the trip last? How much did people pay for breakfast? How did they entertain themselves? Where did they go if they wanted to splurge? How much steak could you get at a fancy restaurant for 75 cents?

Cute, wholesome, very entertaining.