missed some pieces that are left out of the story

So here’s the thing. I gave this workshop thing one meeting (that would be last week, when we talked about the Reformation and I failed to blog in my role as Angry Young Person) to set up what the point is. I gave it a second (that would be this week, when we talked about European film and economic globalization and I have chosen to blog as an AYP) to show me why I should care.

But today’s was not the conversation I was hoping to have. I was hoping for the discussion about why choose these films and where does this reading come from (because, honestly, I don’t see it for at least one of the examples) and what does culture say to politics. This discussion was hinted at and then firmly smacked down in favor of comments about how it’s okay to just read a film, and it’s really all about economics.

Which, fine. Whatever. But don’t give me that argument and also try to claim that Europudding is really about the stresses of EU economic integration. Because I’ve seen Europudding, and it’s not. It’s about how cool Real World Barcelona would be.

Yes, there were deeper things going on (maybe) and the film wouldn’t have been possible if not for the greater movement of young adults across borders because of integration and the employment mobility it brings. But mostly it was about pretty people doing risky things and learning to get along while sharing a refrigerator. And how Americans are a bit slow.

So that was discussion number one, the main one where I sat (mostly) quietly and listened to people talk about ahistorical possible readings of character names in Billy Wilder’s films. It was not really my kind of discussion, although as an observer there were some entertaining moments of academic nonsense.

Discussion number two was a lot more fun, since not only did I get to talk about the inherent awesomeness of system dynamics, I also had one of those moments where I get to stomp on the assumptions about what I do and how I do it.

Just because (and this is important) I wear a skirt and a pair of cute high heels (and they were very cute, if a little impractical for things like stairs), no one should assume that I only know about things like film studies.

(The assumption that cultural studies and math skills are mutually incompatible is a whole different rant that I think I’ll save for another time. For right now, let’s stick with the gender thing.)

Hi. I spent four years studying military history, and I know what human security means, because I came to grad school to learn about how security questions interact with issues of transitional justice and reconciliation.

I’ve been in classes where I was the only one in the room without a dick and a ROTC uniform. I still managed to follow the discussion without special diagrams.

I know what reframing the issue to one of human security does to security studies, because I’ve got a pretty good idea of how security studies is done. I even know some of the people doing it. And can have actual conversations with them. That I think nuclear deterrence is an intellectual dead end doesn’t mean I don’t understand it. It means that I think it’s a waste of time.

I really don’t need to be told about the impact of trying to measure environmental factors on the traditional linear causality models of security studies. I don’t need to be given a simple definition of human security, and I *really* don’t appreciate it when that definition is aimed just at me, and not at the guy standing next to me.

Interest in security is not a gender-linked trait.

If I’m worried about the image that having a bunch of pop culture stuff out of TUWSNBN creates, and comment on the oddity that all my papers for the next BNC are cultural studies pieces, chances are it’s because I also do something else. If I say that I’m critiquing the traditional security approach *as a quant person* I do so because that’s a claim I feel comfortable making. It’s because I know how to add, and math doesn’t scare me.

If I say such things, I’m trying to give you a conversational cue that, perhaps, it’s a bad idea to act as if my girlish brain cannot comprehend the big scary problems of building a statistical model.

And if you try to give me the hornbook version of basic poli sci concepts, ignoring my attempts to avoid confronting your mistaken assumptions and thereby making us both feel a bit silly, you can expect me to smack you down. Hard.

I might even use concepts like complexity and nonlinear causality and reference modes. I might find it necessary to draw you a picture. I might even walk you through A--> B --> C --> A (a fairly basic feedback loop) slowly and with great care. Because I don’t like it when the equation smart = math = male is used, and I like it even less when it’s accompanied by the idea that my interest in media somehow takes up the space in my brain where my ability to understand calculus would otherwise reside.

So don't do that. It pisses me off.

(On an unrelated note, Weberman kindly offered to kick me in the head if I should ever attempt to publish a paper of the type we discussed today. He meant well, but for obvious reasons that completely sidetracked my train of thought. Just, no. I am unable to continue a conversation after hearing that. From anyone.)


At 10/05/2006 11:47 PM, Blogger Priya said...

Heh. I did the whole "Oh, I'm a girl, I have no idea what you are talking about with your formal models and statistics" shite at the summer gig I was at before (and it was oh-so-easy) going all interpretive on their arses on the last day and tearing down their arguments.

I find it more fun that way :-)

I really wish I'd been there today.

At 10/06/2006 2:58 AM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

You'd have been amused, I think.

It had its moments. I can say for certain that pain meds and high heels do not mix. They're much harder to walk in when the world is a bit fuzzy.

That said, I don't think I said anything too terribly stupid. At least, not in the workshop itself. I may possibly have gone on a bit much during various other conversations today.

But, on the plus side, my back didn't hurt. I think I cracked my arm on a doorframe hard enough to bruise, but that didn't hurt either.

And I think I still managed to draw a proper feedback loop. Although I think I may have mentioned the chicken thing. If I did, I certainly hope I got the components right.

I know for a fact that when questioned about how systems theory would measure a concept like "hearts and minds" I responded with a polite version of "why the hell would it want to do that? That's what we've got cultural studies for. Come talk to me when you want to know how to increase military recruitment or decrease violent protests,"

I still had no one to pass notes with, but the IM chat helped a bit.

At 10/06/2006 1:06 PM, Blogger Genealogy Spice said...

You might end up kicking yourself even before Weberman gets to you :-). More on the actual workshop later - thanks for IMing me in :-)

At 10/06/2006 2:08 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

Yeah, that's possible. Next time we'll have to try and get the audio working from both directions--you could be like HAL. Because what these workshops need is more disembodied voices chiming in with snarky comments.

Not sure how the one-finger / two-finger idea works with voice chat, though. Maybe we should try video chat?

(I'm trying to picture you sitting in via video. It's not working.)


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