Gone fishin' again, in Michigan (again!)

It’s hotter than heck on the Western prairies right now, so famille Historiann is off again to spend time with family and friends on a clear little lake in the old Northwest Territory, on old Ottowa, Sauk, and Fox lands not far from were Pontiac’s Rebellion got its start back in 1763.

I may check in occasionally, but regular posting will resume later next week.  Happy trails, and I hope you all get some vacationing in before your summer ends.

Odd ducks

I thought I heard a duck quacking suspiciously near my open office window this morning, but I didn’t think anything of it, because there’s a pond in a park one block away, and we hear quacking and honking all of the time, all year long.  But just a few minutes ago, my next-door-neighbor rang the doorbell, and who was standing there with her but the duck in question, bold as brass, quacking loudly whenever my neighbor threatened to walk away and return to her window-washing. 

I’ve seen this duck before–ze’s an odd little farm duck who apparently isn’t welcome among the other birds down at the park.  (Most of them are very cool Mallards and Canada Geese who are busy raising their little families this time of year.)  This duck seems to be very comfortable with humans–ze let my neighbor pet hir, and quacked in protest when I went back inside.  Ze might be flight impaired–I’ve never seen hir fly, and believe that ze must have walked down the street to our yards!  Poor thing.

Teh Ruelz

Since my friendly hints in some recent posts about keeping the comments here on topic and specific to the points raised in my posts were apparently too subtle, this blog is now instituting formal ruelz for comments and commenters.  (I always wondered why some blogs have elaborate and detailed rules pages–now I know!)  Since all but two of you have always been extremely well-behaved, I feel a little sad at having to do this.  It’s like catching a cheater in a class–you’re pretty sure that there was only one offender, but you’re forced to assume that there might be more in the future.  But, since traffic here has jumped recently, it’s perhaps best that we all start at the same place.

As most of you know, this blog is only lightly pseudonymous.  Anyone who clicks on “About Historiann” and has the Google can find a wealth of information about my non-virtual professional life.  Other academic bloggers make different decisions, but I thought it was best that people know who they are dealing with, since my posts are informed by my academic training and fields of expertise.  You are all free to be pseudonymous here if you choose, but because this blog is linked to my life in the “straight world,” I prefer to keep everything on the up and up here: 

  1. Historiann is my blog.  This seems obvious to me, but apparently it’s not to some people.  Please note the tag line in the header above:  “History and sexual politics, 1492-present.”  When you comment here, you’re a guest.  I try to make everyone feel welcome, but I am not obligated to comment extensively on issues that are important to you, and you have no right to demand that I do so here.
  2. This is a feminist/womanist blog.  Non-feminists are free to comment so long as you follow the rules, but please note that when I post about bias against women, people of color, and GLBTQ people, it’s more than a little obnoxious to start out a comment by saying, “well, as a white man, I’ve been discriminated against too.”  I’m sure there are blogs out there that are all about the problems of the downtrodden white man, so please share your concerns there.  This is not the place for you.
  3. Please keep your comments relatively brief and on topic.  400-500 word essays are for the op-ed pages or posts on your blog.  They’re not appropriate for the comments on my blog.  Some exceptions will apply occasionally, but pay attention as to how your comments are recieved by other commenters and by me.  If you’re not generating a lot of discussion about your ideas, posting an even longer and more belligerent comment demanding that we respond to you is probably not the way to go.  (I’m just sayin’.)  UPDATE:  See Dance’s comment below.  If you find that you’re repeating yourself, maybe it’s time to acknowledge that the discussion has run aground. 
  4. Be respectful of the other commenters and me.  Pointed questions, challenges, and spirited debate are welcome, but attacks on people’s integrity, reading comprehension, and intellectual capacity will get you a one-way ticket to my spam filter.

One last thing:  I love my commenters–some of you are friends, some of you I know only through blogs and comments, while others of you are enigmas whose identities are complete mysteries to me.  I’ve enjoyed and learned a lot from you and from some of the conversations we’ve had in the comments here (and on your blogs too.)  I’m sorry if this post seems like a wet blanket–let’s shake this thing out and let it dry at the beach, since it’s Memorial Day Weekend, m’kay? 

Everyone jump on the meme chain

Courtesy of James at Patriots & Peoples, I’ve been tagged with a getting-to-know-you meme.  It’s nearly summer break for those of us still working according to the agricultural calendar, and there’s water running in the No. 3 ditch so I’ve got to get my sugar beets and onions in the ground soon here in Potterville.  But, I can take a few minutes to answer the quiz.  Think of it as a fun divertissement until the polls close tonight and the screams for Hillary to “take her boobs and go home” are renewed again with manly vigor:

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?

Same thing, different univeristy, and different book.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):

  1. Drink coffee
  2. Read the Denver Post
  3. Tidy Up
  4. Answer e-mail
  5. (I’m doin’ it now.)

3) Snacks I enjoy:

What is this, preschool?  (Sorry, James–that’s just silly.)

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

  1. Drink coffee someone else makes for me.
  2. Read the Denver Post someone else brings to me.
  3. Tell someone else to tidy up.
  4. Answer e-mail using only LOLCat-speak, just to annoy people, and just because I could  (U no U wud ansr me if I hd $1B!)
  5. Hire someone else to mow my damn grass.

5) Three of my bad habits:

  1. My triathlalon times are so incredible they’re intimidating my workout buddies.
  2. I haven’t had time to bake homemade bread to give to the Food Bank since I’ve been volunteering so many hours with Save the Children.
  3. The terrible mess on my desk has cost me numberless offers of endowed chairs at prestigious universities because I keep losing the contracts.

6) 5 places I have lived:

  1. Philadelphia
  2. Baltimore
  3. Washington, D.C.
  4. Somerville/Cambridge, Mass.
  5. Oxford, Ohio

7) 5 jobs I have had:

  1. Produce department clerk in a supermarket
  2. Evening/weekend receptionist at an inn on a college campus
  3. “Fly Girl” dancer on the TV show In Living Color (1989-1991)
  4. Dry mount press operator at a frame shop
  5. Historian

But, instead of passing this along to other bloggers, I’d like to invite my commenters to answer one or more of the questions above, either on their own blogs or in the comments.  Have at it, friends!

Academic bullying and discrimination round-up, yee-haw!

There have been a number of good posts ’round these parts recently that have continued discussing bullying and harrassment in academic work environments, especially as they affect women faculty members.  (Not so happy trails today, friends–but be good to your horse anyway.)  See for example Clio Bluestocking’s appalling stories of harrassment:  part I, part II, and part III.  She makes the observation in Part III that “[T]he focus in harassment cases is upon the “sexual,” which is not the source of the abuse. The source of the abuse is in the “harassment,” which is not always sexual in nature. While most universities and workplaces have a policy against sexual harassment, they do not have policies dealing with simple harassment or bullying. . . . unless provable damage had been done, and unless the hostile work environment rested upon sex, the subordinates had few options for recourse.”  The result of this failure to police or prevent harrassment is that in her case, “the colleagues of these [harrassers] did not see objections to their behavior as anything other than a personality conflict. When I brought my problem to the chair of the department in the third case, he told me, ‘you can’t file a complaint against someone for being an a**hole.'” 

Why not?  Isn’t creating a “hostile work environment” part and parcel of being an a**hole?  (I wouldn’t have minded working with a**holes so much if they left it at home.)  Tenured Radical posted last year about a book by Robert I. Sutton that argues that keeping a**holes out is an important precondition to creating a healthy and happy work environment.  She writes, “What is great about The No A**hole Rule is that Sutton’s examples help identify the a**hole behavior that is particular to one’s own workplace, how to identify it in oneself, and how to resist it. He also demonstrates the damage caused by a**holes, several of which seem particularly relevant to academic institutions, in my experience. One is that a**hole behavior is contagious: if effective interventions are not made, people who are not certified a**holes become more prone to temporary a**hole behaviors as they try to resist domination and seizures of power.”  (By the way, go ahead and type in the esses if you’re looking for Sutton’s book–Historiann doesn’t like to work blue.)

Prof. Zero makes a related point about abusive environments in her recent post, I Object, in which she meditates on domestic violence and victim-blaming.  She writes, “I find it very interesting that [women] are expected to escape physical abuse and are heavily criticized if we do not, but [we are expected] to absorb verbal and emotional abuse. We are to say it is happening because we have a ‘communication problem.’ Had we phrased things just right, we would have avoided ‘misunderstandings’ and would not have been abused. Now that we have been, we must be quiet and wait for the next episode. In the meantime we must still function at a high level.”  She’s absolutely right–why do we blame the victims if they don’t leave after being physically abused, and then blame victims again if they don’t just shut up and take it when being bullied and abused emotionally?  If we accept that victims of physical violence have no control over their abusers’ behavior, why do we tell people who are being bullied that they should “try to get to know people better,” and suggest that if they took people out to lunch more often, the harrassment would end?

Finally, Ann Bartow at Feminist Law Profs has put together some useful links in Data on Women and Men in Academia.  Note in particular the link to “Women, Work, and the Academy:  Strategies for Responding to ‘Post-Civil Rights Era’ Gender Discrimination,” a report by Alison Wylie, Janet R. Jakobsen and Gisela Fosado at the Barnard Center for Research on Women.

Whew.  Historiann has got quite a few stables to muck out now, doesn’t she?  Giddyup.