Wednesday, September 5

In Which this Seriousness Thing is Carried to its Limits

To my regulars (and I'm including you in that group, BM, even though you've decided to lurk and not comment of late!): I know all this serious feminist (uh oh used the f-word I did) rambling is totally below the belt. I know you're all going into shock, shaking your heads slowly and sobbing silently that I've joined the Dark Side. I assure you, lords and leddies, that I have not. Really really. This is just a riposte to Those Individuals who Suggest I'm Whee! Like As If!!! So I have decided to exhibit my Dangerously Grave Side (less of course I get an apology from Certain Slandering Individuals (didja see how I made you CSI? Cool, no?)). Yes, I have *nods head righteously* And sides it's kinda cool to think that any not-so-regulars who stumble in will now think I'm a bra-burning serious-thinking feminist. Joy.

Hennyway (and no, this is not a weapon, martial or otherwise), I sit in the backbench. Every lecture. Without fail. Even when I'm late. I have a buncha fellow backbenchers also. It's mainly cos I went through my first years in school being a front bencher (by compulsion not persuasion). Being emotionally and psychologically scarred by that experience at a tender age, I vowed to eschew anything resembling a front row for the rest of my life. As a corollary the only row I can inhabit during class now is the one right at the back, up against the wall. So, us backbenchers, we ask questions. Not incessantly. But whenever we can. Four of us are girls, the remaining eight are male. Of the four XXs, I'm the only one who asks questions. The guys all take turns being curious. Zat, m'hearties, is ze bachground and nov to ze foreground.

So, today during a really boring lecture on peptide analysis (yeah, it actually *is* as boring as it sounds), I had an epiphany. It was all because a girl in the front row asked a question (which had the unhappy incidental effect of waking up the guy sitting next to me who was taking what looked like a most refreshing break from the day's labor. He's Puerto Rican and he lends me all his Mana CDs so I really did feel bad that he was woken up). She is a confirmed prefacer, that one. You know the sort. Every question of hers is prefaced with an apology. "I'm sorry if this is a silly question, but...." "I think I didn't understand what you said right then but it sounded like...." " I'm sorry if you just said this and I missed it but..." Always. And then it struck me that all the prefacers in my class are female. Yes, it's true. Out of a class of a 100 people, where at least 10 questions are asked per lecture, with 10 lectures a week, that gives us a sample size of 100 questions. Of which prefacers are probably 25% or so. So that gives us 25 questions per week. And it's been 10 weeks since school started. Even a conservative estimate leaves us with a sample size of atleast 125 questions. In all this time only once was the prefacer a male.

I just wonder what those women are *really* apologizing for.

10 comments:

Tabula Rasa said...

Hennyway (and no, this is not a weapon, martial or otherwise), I sit in the backbench.

Put that way, what you really meant to say was Hineyway. (And most definitely not Cockyway.)

Renovatio said...

Butt no, TR...



Try this preface, 'I know you have a stick up your ass and all, but...'

Brown Magic said...

Ok baba. you are not "whee!"

you are most serious person. you wear your hair in severe bun. you have those chain-y things for your glasses (which you now wear). you wear sensible shoes, perhaps with a buckle and always have a cardigan handy because you get chilly easily.

I stand duly corrected.

a thousand apologies, o grave severe one.

Revealed said...

@tr: Rrrrright *eye roll*

@r: Sheesh peeps. Stop with the ass jokes already!

@bm: Zank you. We shall now resume Ze Flaff. *adjusts her severe bun, reaches for her cardigan and checks her glasses chain-y thing to make sure her glasses still dangle at her battleship bosom*

Tabula Rasa said...

ass you wish.

Falstaff said...

Revealed: Maybe I'm taking this post too seriously, but...

As a serial prefacer myself (see above) I can't help feeling you're just dealing with a skewed sample - I can think of dozens of men who are prefacers.

Besides, I'm not sure why we're assuming that prefacing is a sign of being apologetic. Personally, I tend to preface when I'm asking a question that I think is more provocative / fundamental, in order to sweeten the blow. So maybe it's just that women ask more provocative / fundamental questions?

TR: I agree with Revealed. Stop with the bottom-feeding jokes already. They were cheeky to start with, but now they're just getting drearier and derriere.

Chronicus Skepticus said...

Oh I'm a chronic-prefacer too. And though the apology prefaces the question, I think it's *directed* at the classmates because I'm being the annoying-question-asking-person-because-of-whom-class-doesn't-end-when-the-bell-rings.

(hangs head in shame)

Revealed said...

@tr: No words, man!

@F: 1. Their questions are normally not fundamental/provocative and so I don't think they're softening the blow. By any stretch.

2. Why would it be a skewed sample? The background from which these people come has standard variations and almost all classes of society are accounted for. There's a bunch of international students (and I can understand those people having trepidations about asking questions). And 100 is a fairly big size, no?

3. The really interesting part of it is that I see a very similar phenomenon in smaller gatherings. When it's a journal club and there's only 5 of us to a room, if a girl is asked a question, she will end her answer with a self-effacing giggle or an "At least that's what I *think* he's saying". Course I'm not saying that this is for all women in my school. Far from it. It's only the ones who come in fresh from undergrad. Maybe it takes females longer to feel confident enough about asking questions without apologizing for the question?

4. I adore being taken seriously. Pliss to continue.

@CS: Hahahaha. Yeah I know that feeling. They hate you, don't they?

Chronicus Skepticus said...

Heh, I'm just glad I'm done with it!

Still, wasn't *all* my fault y'know - you can't throw an art student* into a statistics/accounts/management/economics classroom and expect smooth sailing!

*even if it was less of a 'throwing' and more of a 'jumping in'.

Revealed said...

Woman! I doff my cap! You astound me.