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August 15, 2013


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I absolutely agree that we can't make progress until more people understand -- and stop denying the existence of -- the scope of different experiences we have. It heartens me that I've had some very moving conversations with fourteen year olds about how we can try to make this country a better place for everyone. It would hearten me even more if I could have similar conversations with some of my family members who insist that we all have the same opportunities to succeed and that current attempts to level the playing field are socialist or communist plots.

Christina Nowacki

I love that: "You are a data sample size of one." Oh man do I stumble into that SO MUCH. Yes, you can gather that my personal experience is that it is usually a specific side of the political spectrum that carries that viewpoint :)

I remember saying to my mom once in a conversation about race "The thing is, I really cannot sit here and drop an opinion on what it is like to be a black woman because I am NOT a black woman. And even if I were, I would only be ONE black woman among millions - if you and I - two white women - sitting at this table have different opinions on the same event, then don't you think 2 black women might as well?"

She stopped and then said "Huh. I guess you are right. Perhaps mine is not the only experience I should consider."


Anyhow - I am proud of you for subscribing and lifting your pen to tilt at those windmills.


So very true. Confusing anecdotal stories with evidence is a huge problem in teaching basic science. I have a good friend who teaches psychology, and it's one of the biggest obstacles she faces in teaching Developmental Psychology. It's always worse with the non-traditional students (older students) who have had more life experience. We live in an insular midwest community, and they have never traveled anywhere else. They always assume that their experience represents all experience.

Karen (formerly kcinnova)

Until people look beyond themselves, they cannot believe there is any other way to think or act or live. We can't all "walk a mile in another man's shoes" but we can stop and think what it *might* be like. Listening is a good first step. (I love Christina's example in the above comment!)


Christina, I am totally stealing your line to use in the too-many times I'm in a conversation that needs it.

Thanks for this post, Jenn.

Aunt Snow

"a swift knee to the groin, a blood curdling scream, fingers/nails to the eyes and/or face or a stomp on an instep"...this is about the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Yes, I'm sure HR will take you super seriously if you react like that.

Indeed. Assault in response to assault gets both people fired, as far as HR is generally concerned.

I also wonder whether that person would suggest doing this at a fine dining establishment, where some of the behavior is supposed to have happened.

Let's remember that what Mr. Filner is accused of doing is not sexual behavior - it's not about being attracted to someone, courting, or dating. It's about using sexual behavior as a tactic of power.

Another aspect of this kind of fuzzy logic is the false equivalence lumping together of issues that are only superficially alike, when instead they are complex and very different except for surface appearance.

Filner, Weiner, Spitzer and Clinton are not the same.

Making fun of a public figure is not all the same, when racist or sexist (or otherist) content is present.

I love your writing, Jenn, and your righteousness!

Green Girl in Wisconsin

People are so blind to their privilege. Your response, "sample size of one" is so true. How can people NOT step back and imagine life in another person's shoes?

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