Category Archives: Uncategorized

Um.

I had to video myself talking recently and was shocked at how much I say, “um.” This realization let me to this article, which offers some really helpful advice. But, it also gave me a lightning-strike moment re: gender and rhetoric with this line: “we use “um” and “ah” to hold onto the “conversational floor” as we are planning what we are going to say next.” I already knew that women tend to hedge and use filler words more than men, and I suddenly realized that I, personally, do absolutely use “um” to hold the floor. Because if I don’t, I am constantly interrupted. I tried, once, to count how many times I was interrupted in a day … and I gave up. (To be clear, I was interrupted at least as often by women as men. I’m not saying men are interrupters, necessarily. Rather, that in my experience, we all are enculturated to think it’s okay to interrupt women.) So … still searching for strategies to claim rhetorical space with resorting to holding the floor with um. Um, sigh.

 

Intersectionality

This is a few months old, but an excellent read:

https://time.com/5786710/kimberle-crenshaw-intersectionality/

“Self-interrogation is a good place to start. If you see inequality as a “them” problem or “unfortunate other” problem, that is a problem. Being able to attend to not just unfair exclusion but also, frankly, unearned inclusion is part of the equality gambit.”

COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to spread, I’ve been really impressed with one particular piece of technical communication. This chart has shown up in a number of places, and it’s the sort of visual representation that can really make a difference for audiences. When I saw it, I thought, “Oh–I get it now. Slowing the virus down actually lessens its impact.” This is some smart work.

A graph showing two curves and a dotted line representing the healthcare system's capacity running horizontally. One curve rises high above that line and peters out quickly; the other is a longer curve that goes on longer but peaks later and just brushes the capacity line.

Versions of this graphic have appeared in a number of places. This particular one can be found at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/this-one-chart-shows-why-minimizing-coronavirus-impact-is-a-race-against-time/

Women speak!

I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen a report like this that … looks like this!

https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/19/politics/nevada-democratic-debate-speaking-times/index.html

 

 

Women’s names

This article was sent to me last month by a smart friend who is thinking about the ramifications of name changes in academe. I wanted to pull out a few important quotes and ideas.

I love this idea: “For me, I realized that my marriage and the name-changing question gave me an opportunity for empowerment: to reclaim my identity with a name of a family I chose.” I like to see name-changing as an opportunity, a potential gain rather than a loss. After all, changing your name doesn’t mean you have to lose the name you had.

Also, this one: “We should not have to weigh the possibility that taking a new name equates to being taken less seriously as a scholar.”

Finally, this paragraph, which is one place where I don’t totally agree:

“When I asked colleagues to point out academic women who had taken a new name, they could only identify three conditions where scholars changed their names and went on to have a successful career. The first was in the early years of graduate school. For graduate students with only a few publications or presentations, the decision is often less frowned upon and might even go unnoticed by those looking over one’s curriculum vitae. The second acceptable condition is following a divorce posttenure. The idea here is that a woman is reclaiming her identity and thus it’s viewed as empowering, or at least respectable, due to the circumstances. The third acceptable condition is to hyphenate, joining one’s birth and married names.”

I think these conditions may seem more acceptable to some, but as a woman who changed her name before graduate school, I’ve still taken some heat. This usually has to do with my identification as feminist–aren’t feminists supposed to keep their names? Spoiler alert: No. Feminists are supposed to do whatever the heck they please with their names and we don’t owe anybody an explanation.

In the end, the only true downside I see about changing your name is functionality. If you do already have publications and somebody reads one and likes it, having different names on different articles may hinder them from finding your other work. But strategies exist for working around this problem.

Of course, all this presupposes that we only get one name and that name is static. That may be true for one’s legal name, but we can operate with different names beyond what is “official.” I take joy in operating as Erin Frost, Erin A. Frost, Erin Clark Frost, and Erin Clark across different contexts. They are all me, with some names representing identities that have closer associations to certain spaces, times, people, or ideas. I claim all these names as mine, and I never want to lose any of them.