New Series: Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

I got the idea for this series from zunguzungu who publishes a collection of links to great posts every Sunday and from Feministe that allows people to self-promote on this day. In this series, I will publish a post every Sunday that will contain links to the posts from my blogroll that I enjoyed the most during the week. These are not the same articles I linked to during the week. These are the ones I would have liked to comment on if only I had time.

Readers should feel free to leave links to their own (or somebody else’s) posts written during the week in question that they believe were especially great. It doesn’t make sense to link to an entire blog because that never works. So please, just the specific posts you really liked this week.

This is what I’ve been reading:

Baron-Cohen tries to defend his indefensible arguments about those bad, insensitive autistics. And Part II.

How to choose an academic journal to submit your article

New opinion survey instrument and political spectrum/landscape tabulator in beta testing

An open letter to Etsy shops

How one’s attitude to traveling evolves as one gets older

What’s wrong with “bros before hos” attitude to life

A post on privilege inspired by me

If you are on the non-academic job market, here are the best ways to handle interactions with a headhunter / recruiter

The geek culture and sexism: do they have to come hand in hand?

Does your university offer you workable solutions to dealing with students who have mental health issues?

Why care about Rabindranath Tagore?

Do your male family members trick you into doing more housework?

Is blogging in decline? Read a post and do a survey.  I don’t think it is in decline or likely to be any time soon, which I let the people conducting the survey know as clearly as possible.

Films you can show in a Latin American History course.


New Poll: Gender and Blogging

On a regular basis, I receive messages telling me that I could improve my blogging, acquire more popularity and gain allies if only I started writing less aggressively. There have been so many of such messages over 2,5 years of blogging that I now have a separate folder for them in my blogging mailbox. I save them because, more often than not, they are extremely aggressive which makes them even more hilarious.

Fellow blogger Z shared that she also has received similar exhortations. So I decided to conduct a poll and find out whether “if-only-you-could-be-less-aggressive” messages have anything to do with the gender of the blogger who receives them.

The poll is located in the right-hand panel of the blog. Please vote!

Clarissa’s Dictionary of Internet-Speak

After almost two and a half years of blogging, I have seen certain comments crop up with scary regularity and had to learn to decipher them. Here is a list of such popular comments and my translations of what they really mean. Feel free to add your own:

This is a straw-man argument – How dare you denounce sexists, racists, and homophobes to whom I proudly belong?

Where is your respect for freedom of speech? – I will spout any kind of rubbish I want and you will listen and never object.

You would gain more allies if you were less aggressive – Shut up and go into your corner, you woman.

Everything you write is ridiculous – I’m vaguely bothered by something you said but I’m too stupid to verbalize what it is that bothers me.

You don’t even know me, so how dare you say these things about me – I’m such a center of the universe that everything published online has to be about me.

This is a horrible blog! I will never come back! – I will read all of the posts you ever wrote, commit many of them to memory, and keep leaving endless comments about how this is a horrible blog and how I will never come back to it.

You just say this because you are autistic – I am bothered by clear, logical arguments.

You are elitist – I don’t understand all these long three-syllable words.

You are lying, this never really happened to you – I don’t know how to reconcile your experience with my very limited world view.

All of you Lefties / feminists / autistics / women are the same – The world makes no sense to me unless I have subdivided people into groups and assigned labels to them.

It is a waste of time to argue with you – I have no idea how to respond to your arguments.


My niece Klubnikis doesn’t call her father “papa,” “father,” “padre” or “Dad” even though she can say all these words perfectly well.

She calls him “Papoontin” because a shorter appellation must seem grievously inadequate for such an important person.

Meeting Writers

A very old, slightly eccentric and highly esteemed scholar was saying to me once, “My dear child, why do you want to specialize in contemporary literature? If you do that, you might end up meeting writers. Believe me, there is nothing worse than that. They are all such intolerable creatures. Self-centered, in need of constant adulation and ego-stroking, peevish, and unreliable. Why don’t you join us, the Golden Age specialists, instead? All of our writers have been dead for a very long time. It’s such a pleasure to work with them.”

Impostor Syndrome

Academics often share that they feel like an impostor in a variety of situations: while speaking at a conference, delivering a lecture, introducing themselves as Professor ABC, etc. I often feel like this when I talk to my students about how to write well. I’m sure most (if not all) of it exists only in my imagination, but I can swear I see them think, “You even speak with an accent, so who are you to tell us how to write well?” (And then I get nervous, and my accent becomes stronger, and I feel even more like an impostor, and so on).

This is why I was so gratified to read the following comment on Jonathan’s blog:

Students often seem bland to me, because what they write is generic. They give me a standard view of things, not what they really think when that is stripped away. On the other hand, bloggers like Clarissa or Z always have something interesting to say because they are very much themselves. It doesn’t even matter whether I agree with any particular statement they make or whether I think their personal viewpoint is generalizable to any other human being on the planet. Who cares?

See? I do have the right to tell students a few things about how to write well.

IMF Promotes the Cause of Feminism in Ukraine

There are many gender inequities in Ukraine, the most glaring of which has always been a significant difference in retirement age for men and women. While women can retire at the age of 55, men have to wait until the age of 60 to be able to do the same. Taking into account that life expectancy for women is 12 years longer than for men and that many men don’t even get to live until the age of sixty, this difference in the age of retirement is nothing but sexist.

If you believe that such sexist differences in retirement age somehow benefit women, you couldn’t be more mistaken. For one, women are considered hopelessly old and useless by the time they reach 55. On the other hand, they still work because one can’t live on the meager pensions. The problem is that, once they pass the retirement age, nobody will hire them for good, well-paying positions. They have to content themselves with working in unofficial capacities, plagued with fear that the fact they still work is about to come out.

Now, however, the IMF has forced Ukraine to bring the retirement age for men and women into sync. People will now retire at 60, irrespective of their gender. In Russia, where the IMF holds no sway, the gender-skewed attitude to retirement inherited from the USSR still persists.

It’s great to see the IMF do something good for a change. Obviously, the IMF isn’t making Ukraine do this because it cares about feminism. This, however, is completely unimportant, given that the result of these policies will benefit the cause of gender equality immediately.