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Gudrun Brangwen
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Apr 22, 2011 Gudrun Brangwen commented on Campus Conservative Group Attempts to Piss Off Campus Liberals, Succeeds.
@99 I disagree that asking to be addressed by your title is out of line with the spirit of Gender Studies departments. First, these departments hire many women and queer people, groups who have historically been denied credit and respect for their work. For them to demand formal respect for their expertise seems fine. They're asking recognition of the work they've put in to mastering their fields (esp. relative to undergrad students), not for their gender, race or status at birth.

Not all gender studies professors want to dismantle ALL "hierarchies of power." They might feel that some power structures are based on merit and are defensible, at least in our present imperfect world. You have no way of knowing that this woman's decision to use the title she earned was "un-self-critical." And for privileged young male undergrads to be reminded that they're not on a first-name basis with every woman in the world is no bad thing.
Apr 22, 2011 Gudrun Brangwen commented on Campus Conservative Group Attempts to Piss Off Campus Liberals, Succeeds.
Yes, the "fuck you" was unprofessional, and Dr. Lewin would probably have been better off keeping the moral high ground by sending a well-reasoned but blistering critique of "Conservative Coming Out Day." Still, if I'd been in her place I would have been tempted to do the same thing. For a person who's actually well-informed and thoughtful about the issues, and has studied the oppression that prevents actual queer people from coming out, reading this garbage must be immensely frustrating.

Particularly when it's sent out as an official university e-mail, granting legitimacy to the idea that conservatives are somehow oppressed by having people criticize their "ideas." The student e-mail was immature, callow, smug, self-righteous, insensitive and unfunny. Dr. Lewin's e-mail was at least succinct, and satisfying to read.
Apr 1, 2011 Gudrun Brangwen commented on Who's a Flying Monkey Now?.
While you're at it, take a moment to vote for Gillian: http://talentsearch.yogajournal.com/view…

Look at her! She's amazing!
Mar 17, 2011 Gudrun Brangwen commented on The Smart One.
It's a bit ridiculous to assume that because the SLLOTD writer's husband is a gifted computer programmer, the non-programmer wife must be a hot but dumb younger woman who only likes reality TV (as described in the Prudence letter). We don't know anything about the previous letter writer's age, appearance or specific interests. There are many intermediate points between "math genius" and "idiot bimbo." & there are many ways of being intelligent that don't involve math, computers or economics (although some computer programmers don't seem to realize this).

I would agree that it's foolish for a commenter to be certain they have diagnosed someone via letter. But fetishistically insisting on a ban on mentioning psychological diagnoses is equally foolish. Disorders do have warning signs and telltale hints that someone may have them. If a letter writer said her boyfriend had lost all joy in life, was barely eating and staying in bed 14 hours a day, many commenters would conclude he's suffering from depression & should seek psychological help. For that matter, if we heard someone was suffering from fever, nausea, headache and malaise, we'd conclude they might have the flu. This, even though we are "not doctors" and "aren't getting all the facts." Yes, internet commenters might be wrong. Since comments sections don't have the power to stop someone from seeing a real doctor (and for that matter, might encourage them to do so), I don't think that's a big deal.
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Mar 17, 2011 Gudrun Brangwen commented on SL Letter of the Day: Coded Conversation.
Man, Aspies coming out of the woodwork on this one to comment defensively on how the guy is "just really smart," he's horribly put-upon by having a wife who's too stupid to understand him, and it's not his fault he's so "clueless." As @104 pointed out, every time she gives him a "clue," he punishes her for it!

Lecturing people endlessly about your area of professional interest has nothing to do with how "intelligent" you are. True intelligence involves being able to converse on a wide range of topics, and having perspective on your field. Most PhD's are aware that non-specialists won't grasp the details of what they do, so they don't subject them to detailed discourse. For that matter, that's also true of people who spend all day doing data entry and making Excel spreadsheets in a cubicle. Learn how to summarize, and get some non-work interests.

@109 if he needs a complex philosophical/neurobiological explanation to grasp the fact that people outside his field don't know his field, he must be barely able to function socially! How does he think he got a PhD and a web security job, other than by understanding technicalities that ~other people don't get~?

Bottom line, he's bringing his feelings into this issue (acting hurt if she's not interested), without showing a willingness to notice her feelings. This needs to change drastically or the marriage is doomed.
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Mar 12, 2011 Gudrun Brangwen commented on Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama.
@ 44, you think W. was sober while he was president? How charmingly naive. Remember that time he had to go to the hospital because he "choked on a pretzel" while watching a game? It wasn't the pretzel, it was what he washed it down with!

Can't believe so many people are asking what "single-payer" means. I was always too embarrassed to admit I didn't understand what "single-payer" was during the runup to the health care bill, but I figured it out eventually.
Feb 12, 2011 Gudrun Brangwen commented on SL Letter of the Day: Pull Up a Chair....
@23, et al. throughout the thread: I'm surprised so much of this thread degenerated into people making hacky jokes about "enjoy serving fries, humanities majors!" Somebody said the humanities aren't doing well -- well, they are doing well, if you go by the standard of whether the fields of study prepare people to think critically in a complex world. A recent study (http://www.philnel.com/2011/01/18/nodrif…) showed that humanities majors are showing “significantly higher gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills over time than students in other fields of study.” Most jobs require those skills. And complex reasoning is something most Americans desperately need to do more of. There's a reason most English majors don't go on to become Sarah Palin fans.

Humanities majors aren't particularly good at preparing undergrads for any particular job, but neither are most majors. A BA in biology doesn't qualify you to be a biologist -- you need a Ph.D. for that. And it's a little ludicrous to say that women's & gender studies is an ivory-tower discipline with no benefit in the real world. Gender relations and sexuality inform almost every aspect of our lives. Having some tools to think about them intelligently isn't a bad idea (not that all Women's Studies majors actually DO think about them intelligently). And a feminist perspective on current events is another thing American could use more of. Again, not a lot of Women's Studies grad running around claiming Sarah Palin is a great role model.

As for the earnest, preachy, p.c. undergrads who give the field a bad name -- I hate 'em, too. I never too a Women's Studies class in college, because I that heard people cry in Women's Studies classes. Yuck. The discipline attracts a certain type of person who's looking for a reason to impose her preferences on everyone else ("don't use that language, it's Offensive to Women!"), and overly prone to thinking she's found the One True Faith. Hopefully they mellow out later in life. Citing this as a reason to dismiss an entire discipline is absurd. It's like saying engineering is useless, because some engineering students you met were socially awkward aspies.
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Feb 8, 2011 Gudrun Brangwen commented on Savage Love.
Dan's right about the first letter. That woman might consider trying meditation/yoga/other mindfulness practices. I know that sounds woo-woo and new-agey, but those techniques are designed to help you pay attention to the present moment and dispassionately take stock of what is an isn't making you happy. As opposed to constantly chasing imaginary future experiences that will give you exactly what you want & make all your problems to away. Which is what she's doing. Might help, might not, but it's better to try something than resign herself to dragging her kids through endless failed relationships.
Feb 7, 2011 Gudrun Brangwen commented on UK Court "Bans" Man with Low IQ from Having Sex.
I'm surprised at all the commenters saying they're sure this man can't "truly" consent to sex. All we have to go on is an IQ number (a semi-arbitrary measurement, & in this case one that doesn't convey much to the average reader beyond "sounds hella low") and a couple of sentences describing his mental capacity. But beyond that, the reasons we might give for saying a minor or an intoxicated person can't consent don't really apply here.

With a minor, even if they have some form of sex drive, they are presumed not to have attained their full adult sexuality, and thus not to understand what they really want out of sex. And children are rightly considered incapable of consenting to sex with adults because they can't always make a clear mental distinction between doing something because they want to & doing something to please an adult. If you can't really refuse sex (due to a messed-up power dynamic), you can't really consent. Alan's case is different. He won't ever reach a higher level of mental maturity against which his current state can be contrasted. So the harm of letting a mentally immature person consent to sex must be weighed against the (possibly much greater) harm of denying him sex and intimate contact for life -- not the case with minors, who can afford to wait a few years.

And while his intelligence may be childlike, other aspects of his mind may not be -- he may be adult-like in his ability to form preferences based on years of life experience, and in possessing the will (and physical strength) to reject any sexual activity he doesn't want.

You'll also note that minors aren't legally banned from having sex with others of the same age -- just adults, because of the power imbalance.

I'm glad the judge put some thought into the ethical ramifications of this, & it sounds like putting him in sex ed was a needed step. But I'm with Dan in being uncomfortable with the weirdness of putting an adult's right to a sex life up for judicial review.
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Feb 7, 2011 Gudrun Brangwen commented on UK Court "Bans" Man with Low IQ from Having Sex.
I'm surprised at all the commenters saying they're sure this man can't truly consent to sex with his level of retardation. All we have to go on is an IQ number (a semi-arbitrary measurement, & in this case one that doesn't convey much to the average reader beyond "sounds hella low") and a couple of sentences in the Mail & Telegraph articles describing his mental functioning. But beyond that, the reasons we might give for saying a minor or an intoxicated person can't consent don't really apply here. With a minor, even if they have some form of sex drive, they are presumed not to have attained their full adult sexuality, and thus not to understand what they really want out of sex. With an intoxicated person, they can't consent because they might be traumatized later when they found they had consented to something they wouldn't normally want -- which doesn't apply to Alan, since this is his "normal."

And children are rightly considered incapable of consenting to sex with adults because they can't always make a clear mental distinction between doing something because they want to & doing something to please an adult. If you can't really refuse sex (due to a messed-up power dynamic), you can't really consent. This doesn't apply to Alan, either. He won't ever reach a higher level of mental maturity against which his current state can be contrasted. So the harm of letting a mentally immature person consent to sex must be weighed against the (possibly much greater) harm of denying him sex and intimate contact for life -- not the case with minors, who can afford to wait a few years.

And while his intelligence may be childlike, that doesn't mean all aspects of his mind are -- he may be adult-like in his ability to form preferences based on years of life experience, and in possessing the will (and physical strength) to reject any sexual activity he doesn't want. Again, not the case with chidren.

You'll also note that minors aren't legally banned from having sex with others of the same age -- just adults, because of the power imbalance. Similarly, if this man is shacked up with another retarded adult, it makes little sense to conclude the sex must be "rape" or coercion.

I'm glad the judge put some thought into the ethical ramifications of this, & it sounds like putting him in sex ed was a needed step. But I'm with Dan in being uncomfortable with the weirdness of putting an adult's right to a sex life up for judicial review.
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