Saturday, January 24, 2015

Shut-up, White Boy! Professors: White Men Should Speak Last

Written by Selwyn Duke

We look to a day when people will not be judged by the content of their character, but by the color of their skin

And the configuration of their chromosomes.

This seems the hope of a panel of professors and activists at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, assembled to improve campus race relations and tackle matriculator misogyny. And relating to this they put forth an idea:

Women and blacks should be called on first in classroom discussions.

Campus Reform’s Gabriella Morrongiello reports on the story, writing, “On the heels of a scandal involving male Dalhousie University dentistry students making sexually charged comments on Facebook about their female peers, the Canadian university’s Student Union and Gender and Women’s Studies Program co-hosted a forum on misogyny titled ‘Transforming our campus and strengthening our community.’” Morrongiello then writes of the panel’s proposed solutions:

... “I do think, in general, there are a lot of studies that indicate women, girls are socialized not to speak first.... And so to make a conscious rule, a deliberate rule that is explicit, that ‘no, men are not allowed to speak first,’ is certainly a strong way of addressing that issue...” said Jacqueline Warwick, a professor of musicology and former coordinator of the Gender and Women’s Studies Programs at Dalhousie.

Jude Ashburn, who identifies as a “non-binary trans person” and serves as an outreach coordinator at a local gender and sexual resource center, told UNews after the panel that she thinks black students should also be given priority when contributing to classroom discussions.

“When I do activist circles or workshops, I often say, ‘OK, if you’re white and you look like me and you raise your hand, I’m not going to pick on you before someone of color,’” said Ashburn.

One might wonder about applying this standard in college classes. If whites and men — and in particular white men — will be pushed to the back of the participation bus, will they also be charged less for this lower degree of educational service? Given that white men are practically the only group excluded from affirmative action (Asians may now be another), it actually will be just the opposite.

Of course, it’s true that sex differences exist and that men are more likely to speak up, owing to their mover-and-shaker nature and to being less fearful of making mistakes. But it’s also true, as Dr. Louann Brizendine writes in her 2007 book The Female Brain, that women are more talkative in general; she writes that women have approximately 20,000 “communication events” a day versus about 7,000 for men.

Yet these phenomena are interpreted very differently. When at issue is men’s strong-and-silent nature, it’s bemoaned as a failure to communicate that warrants remedy. And when men and boys speak up more in class?

The onus is also put on them.

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