TM, I am shocked, SHOCKED, that you would ever say that scientists were disagreeable.

:) Yes, the cat is out of the bag.

This whole topic is a perfect seque into the perennial and angst-ridden topic of why there is an underrepresentation of female bloggers in the top ranks of the blogosphere. My take is that the medium rewards certain demeanors. I think it was a comment directed at me at Feministe during their famous "blogs as support groups to create safe feminist spaces" post that characterized my contributions as simply wanting to debate and not being so interested in sympathizing with the other commenters. If you look at the big draw female bloggers, they all seem pretty brassy to me. They have sharp elbows, voice their opinions, defend their positions, challenge people they disagree with. This is par for the course in science. Blogging, at least blogging that draws a large audience, has a lot in common with intellectual warfare and disagreeableness. Being a conciliator, peacemaker, diplomat, etc can be very effective in live, but not in all realms.

So what do you think came first, TM, the preference for agreeable, extroverted women in society, or the genetics?

MY WAG is that the preferences probably came first. Back in our pre-verbal era the women who were challenging and brassy probably annoyed the hell out of some men and they were bashed over the head with a club, just like the men would have been. Instead of engaging in a dominance game on the same terms as men, the women specialized in their own forms of dominance, against men and against their female peers, on terms that were more favorable to women.

The Happy Feminist

Of course, I think you can be both.

When it's time to go to war, go to war. When it's time to conciliate, conciliate. That's certainly what the best trial lawyers do. And I at least think that my "war-like" side comes out only when necessary, I feel that I am at my best and my happiest once I have made that decision to crush my opponent.


Of course, I think you can be both.

I agree. See, I can be agreeable :) The thing is though, which do one enjoy the most? One can be confrontational if one has to be and then feel all stressed out for hours afterwards, while your opponent may feel all invigorated and pleased with the encounter. Contrawise, one may feel that satisfied after a conciliatory encounter while the opponent feels all let down from lack of confrontation and feels a loss for not having battled for their position and having settled for a conciliated outcome. One person may feel that something was gained by getting two parties to come to an understanding and the other person may feel that something was lost by not having the other party adopt their position, and adding insult to injury, actually giving ground to the opposing party.

To paraphrase one of the greatest thinkers of pre-history, Conan the Barbarian, answering what is the good life: "To crush your scientific competition, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their graduate students." Surely this speaks to finding a satisfaction from being confrontational that others would abhor.

Sure, people can go through the motions of both demeanors, but their satisfaction levels will vary and there seems to be a gender skew on these personality traits. Women can be aggresive, men can be caring, women can be cold, men can be tender, etc but the gender means are not identical.

The Happy Feminist

You mean Gonad the Barbarian? (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

In my case, my default mode is conciliatory. However, I am happiest in full-on confrontation/war mode, but I have to be fully convinced that it is justified first. So my reality is a little more complex than just "Am I agreeable or confrontational?"


Uh oh. Is it bad that I like confrontation? In fact, I thrive on it. But only when i'm winning. :-)



You might enjoy this post and the comments that it generates.

Mr. Roboto

To return to an earlier subject, Coyote Ugly bars are a lot of fun no matter how idiotic they are. My friends took me to one on my 21st birthday, and they paid the girl to spank me with a belt. I'd never been there, so I didn't know that's something they did, and nobody told me about it before going. It hurts like a bastard, but I was drunk so it was fun.

Intellectually, it does offer a different take on "objectification" though. Is it morally different to pay a stripper to give a lap dance vs. paying a woman bartender to act "sassy" and whup your butt? I guess ultimately women make their own choices, so I don't really feel bad about either. Whether it's an act for money (surely the vast majority of cases) or a genuine expression of personality is their business. Anyway, just ran across this blog post at random and felt like commenting.

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