Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Contradicting the Law of Noncontradiction

with 5 comments

So, here’s the thing.

I’m almost finished with this book. My guess is two to three more days.  And I’m at that place where I’m getting panicked that I’m not going to be able to clean it all up in time–that I’ll leave out explanations that have to be made, and all the rest of it. 

So I am, as I have been, a little distracted.

I’m also still unfamiliar with the word processing program I’m using, so I don’t know what I need to to get some stuff done.

If anybody out there uses Open Office, I’d like to know if there’s a feature that lets you access any page in your manuscript.  On WordPerfect, if you pressed Control+G, you got a window that let you punch in a page number and then it took you directly to that page.

If it’s possible to do that with this, I can’t figure out how.  And that makes certain kinds of revisions really difficult.

That said, I thought I’d pass this along from my meeting the other day, maybe just because it’s so typical it makes my teeth hurt.

The meeting itself was short and not too bad, but when we had a bit of a break, I looked through our new textbook.

Early on, it had one of those sections where it exhorted students not to use “racist or sexist language” and not to indulge in “stereotypes.”

And that was okay, I guess.  It’s the usual sort of thing for textbooks in this era.


As I continued to page through the thing, I would find each kind of “communication” first outlined, and then discussed in terms of “culture” and “gender.”

And the “gender” sections always said things like, “women are more likely than men to seek to shore up relationships through communication” and “men are more likely to be direct and aggressive.”

The references for this stuff all seemed to be to pop psych and pop sociology–Deborah Tannen, for instance, and that Mars and Venus nonsense–and they could have come straight out of a discussion of the “nature”of men and women from around 1945.

Oh, and by the way.

If these things have any validity at all–I’m a man.

But on top of that, the “culture” sections were hysterical too, because the book nearly tied itself in knots not to say what it wanted to say, which was that if you’re doing business internationally with Muslim nations, most of them will not accept women on a negotiating team and will most definitely not accept a woman as the head of such a team.

So we’re supposed to avoid sexist stereotypes at the same time we embrace them, and commit to giving equal rights and dignity to all people no matter what their race or sex while at the same time respecting all cultures including those that emphatically deny people rights and dignity on the basis of race and sex.

By the time it was over, my head hurt.

I’m going to go listen to music.

Written by janeh

August 14th, 2010 at 7:24 am

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses to 'Contradicting the Law of Noncontradiction'

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  1. I suppose it’s too complicated to put in something along the lines of “Many human characteristics follow a fairly normal distribution, and different groups have different means. However, there are always outliers, so even though many men are more likely to be aggressive than many women, some men are less aggressive than almost all women, and some women are more aggressive than almost all men. Therefore, you should treat people as individuals and not resort to stereotypes and lazy thinking and writing.”

    Try Ctrl+Shift+F5 for your OO problem.

    I was going to do the next step in painting my closet, but I think I’ll go to bed with a book or a DVD. It’s been a long couple of days.


    14 Aug 10 at 5:35 pm

  2. Jane and I must have different definitions of stereotype. I take “men are more likely to be direct and aggressive.” to be a starement of probability (as Cheryl comments). I would take “men are direct and aggressive” to be a stereotype.

    I thought Jane was teaching a course on writing essays. What has that got to do with negotiating with Muslim nations?


    14 Aug 10 at 6:49 pm

  3. I just went to try Cheryl’s recommendation that you try ctrl-shift-T5, because I was about to say what you want is F5. Just plain F5 appears to do the same thing. You need to type the number of the page you want to go to into the box at the top that has an up and down caret on the right side of it, then press enter.

    I am just flabbergasted that you would be able to find your way around your book by page numbers. Wow.


    14 Aug 10 at 10:17 pm

  4. My mistake. I meant F, of course. I didn’t try just plain F5 until this morning, and that works too. I was looking at the documentation. I use OO, but I’m much more familiar with Word, since that’s what I have to use 40+ hours a week. And I was much more familiar with WP, but it’s been a long time since I used that.

    A lot of the acceptability of this stuff (gender roles and cultural differences) is in how you present it. Well, that’s like anything, really. But if you get the tedious earnest versions that prattle on about how men are aggressive and women are cooperative and gentle, I, like Jane, end up thinking ‘if that stuff’s true, I’m a man’. And I know I’m not a man.


    15 Aug 10 at 5:52 am

  5. As you say, typical: one must not indulge in stereotypes unless they are official, APPROVED stereotypes. Similarly, those Westerners who deviate from the approved behavior will be flayed by the same people who insist that all cultures are equal and there is no source of moral standards.

    The important thing is never ever to concede these moral and intellectual idiots any shred of legitimacy.

    As for the stereotypes themselves, the short rule is that you can get away with almost anything if the description doesn’t sound favorable to white males or to the West. Say “white children remember a story more accurately” and you’re a racist bigot. Say “children of color remember a story more imaginatively” and you’re a heroine of multi-culturalism. I actually ran into that one once. Likewise Arabs can’t be chronically late, but can be “less time-bound than Eurocentric cultures.” Bring a book to the meeting either way, but the second way makes the textbook writer sensitive, perceptive and multicultural.

    As to how reliable the statements might be as a guide to group or individual conduct–well, that’s really not the point, is it?


    15 Aug 10 at 3:30 pm

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