I would like everyone, including myself, to use less self-deprecation, in their blogs, blog titles and descriptions, posts, emails, conversation, and life in general. How are you gendering your self presentation and what survival strategy is this? Do you need it? Is it working? Are you doing it on purpose? Consider.
We can do this on purpose and reclaim patriarchal judgments on "feminine" discursive strategy and that's what's often being attempted - and we can join the "howl" and do the girlpower thing and YET... YET... YET. It doesn't always work. Out of a context of reclaiming, it is completely misinterpreted.
In many contexts it's not reclaimable, just as performative sex-positive femininity is not, because we don't have control. Rather than revaluing uncertainty, subjectivity, non-expertise, un-knowing, as we want to, we're disempowering ourselves systematically.
Here are some words and phrases to watch out for.
* ranting (see my tagline, above!)
Infantilization and belittling
* just ("just a random girl")
Disclaimer phrases to disavow responsibility
* I think
* I don't really know, but
* I'm not an expert, but
* I'm not sure,
* You're probably much better at this than I am,
* I don't really understand,
Yes, we are judged harshly as women if we DON'T use these rhetorical strategies to pre-devalue all that we say -- whether we're right or not. And we're judged more harshly if we make a positive statement and happen to be wrong. SO WHAT. Stand up and be wrong then.
Yes it's okay to say "I don't know." It should be more okay.
It's also okay to make a strong statement without qualifying it.
I'm resolving to fight this a lot harder.
We should work on both fronts. We need to be calling each other on self-deprecation. Arrogance training.
At the same time, working harder to get men to talk in a way that is less damned arrogant and sure-acting and expert-y when they don't know any more than we do. Calling them on it, being more aware of it, pointing it out in public. It's especially helpful when men call out other men on their BS-ing -- in front of women.
A combination, a balance, code-switching according to context, could work -- but won't bring down the system that rewards men for overconfident arrogance and women for self-deprecating bullshit.
What do you think? What ways do you notice other people doing this? And what ways do you note your own participation in this gendered communication system?