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For a Patronizing Response to My Post About Menstruation,

see Ann Bartow (Feminist Law Professors). For the life of me, I can't grasp exactly what her disagreement is with my position (see here for the post to which she's responding, and here for my original post, to which the other post was a follow-up). But apparently she does disagree.

As for me, I found the comments to the Conspiracy post far more enlightening, though Prof. Bartow thinks the commenters are largely lying about their sex, for no reason that I can identify.

Oh, and then there's this from Prof. Bartow: "One thing I've learned is that if you want all the men to leave a room at breakneck speak, just uttering the word 'uterus' will sometimes do the trick." Huh, never seen that happen, but maybe I just hang out with the wrong crowd.

UPDATE: A commenter at IsThatLegal? came to my defense, writing, "Ann Bartow isn't being exactly fair. Some guy said something kinda stupid, and Volokh replied: 'Oh, really? Lets ask actual women about menstruation. So, women, how about it? Is it a life affirming shared cultural experience?' That's an entirely reasonable response." Prof. Bartow responded with this comment:

Well here's the thing, Patrick: There is a whole lot of diverse and interesting literature that has been *already written* that could bring Eugene up to speed a whole lot more effectively than the commenters at the Volokh conspiracy, if he was actually sincere about educating himself about menstruation. And I'm pretty sure UCLA has at least one library. It even has a Women's Studies Department, not that I would ever expect Eugene to think he could learn anything from the faculty there.

Now I'm extra puzzled. I asked women readers for their personal life experiences, hoping that the responses would confirm my view (which is that few women would find that voluntarily stopping menstruation would "subtract perceived meaning from [their] lives") or correct my view if my view was mistaken, and in the process enlighten other readers on the question. I had thought this sort of give-and-take with readers would be fun and interesting.

Why didn't I instead read the "diverse and interesting literature" on the subject? Because asking people questions about their experiences — going to the library, and finding and reading the relevant scholarly articles — is often (1) more pleasant, (2) easier, and (3) more enlightening to other readers, who'll see the answers right there on the blog. True, systematic research has its advantages; but sometimes conversation has its advantages, too. Why didn't I ask people at the Women's Studies Department? Maybe because it would have been a bit of an imposition on colleagues' time (and, if I asked for personal experiences about menstruation, might have be seen by some of them as somewhat intrusive), whereas a query to readers is not such an imposition, since it's very easy for any reader to take or leave.

What sort of feminism is it that faults people for asking actual women about their experiences, and for trying to start a public conversation in which women's opinions are actively solicited, on the grounds that the questioner should instead have gone to the library or taken up the time of his colleagues?

FURTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, for a serious, thoughtful, and interesting response to the original question, see this from Christine Hurt (Conglomerate).

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. For a Patronizing Response to My Post About Menstruation,
  2. Seeking Input from People Who Have Actually Menstruated:
  3. Pill That Ends Menstruation:
NickM (mail) (www):
You're a man. That's reason enough for her to consider you wrong.

Nick
5.24.2007 7:34pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
It seems to be evidence that received feminism is, in fact, nagging. You've done something wrong, no matter what you've done.

Against this received feminism, we have Emma Goldman, ``If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution.''

And some comments of Vicki Hearne ; also here on the difference between men and women.

Just to say that there are other feminisms.
5.24.2007 7:36pm
IConrad (www):
Lybrel is a good thing. And this law professor is, frankly, a fool not to realize it.

I touched on this a short while ago, on my own blog. The simple fact of the matter is that, in a natural state of affairs, a woman could have expected to have between 1 and 2 dozen periods in her entire natural life.

Little girls are now experiencing more than that well before the 'natural' onset of menarche -- natural being defined here, due to nutritional &lighting effects, as "pre-agricultural society". Given the low dosage hormone levels, essentially, Lybrel does nothing but replicate the hormonal patterns a woman would have experienced for the overwhelming majority of her "natural" life.

And that's simply fact.
5.24.2007 7:52pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
IConrad: Which law professor does not realize that Lybrel is a good thing?
5.24.2007 8:02pm
Steve:
I think Prof. Bartow was a bit put off by your title and didn't quite grasp where you were coming from. I confess that my wife also gave me a funny look over it, but once she read what you had to say, she certainly had no problem agreeing with your position.

Since I assume your post title was deliberately framed in a mildly cutesy way (unless you believe lots of 10-year old girls read this blog, "Seeking Input from Women" obviously would have worked just as well), I don't find it remarkable that of all the people who read your post, there was someone who took it in a slightly off-putting way.
5.24.2007 8:13pm
James Ellis (mail):
Please, please let this go. There's a pretty wide spectrum of responses to almost everything, so I don't think it is that unusual to have a issue that touches on gender, sexuality, privacy and ethics to provoke a response like Bartow's, no matter how peculiar it might look from other perspectives.

So far this blog has steered pretty clear of overblown attacks and ad hominem rants, not to mention feminine napkins and jockstrap jpegs. It's up to us to keep it that way.
5.24.2007 8:27pm
anonVCfan:
It's not so much disagreement as condescension. I read Bartow's post as saying, essentially, that there isn't really a correct answer to your questions because you're asking the wrong questions, or because you can't understand what it's like to be a woman by getting a bunch of women to answer these questions.

Not being a woman myself, I have no idea whether she's right or what a proper response would be to her post. It is a bit cryptic, though.
5.24.2007 8:27pm
Dave N (mail):
And we all know that Feminist Theory Professors (whether they teach in law schools or elsewhere) have absolutely no sense of humor.
5.24.2007 8:27pm
Charles (mail):
When I was in undergrad there was a girl from Romania that I had in one of my ethics classes. She pronounced uterus "ooterus" and all the guys thought it was very cute and endearing.

Maybe feminists should start saying "ooterus" to get attention.
5.24.2007 8:30pm
PersonFromPorlock:
"Uterus" probably will clear a room... but so will "appendix operation." People with causes sometimes underestimate their capacity to bore.
5.24.2007 8:36pm
Francis (mail):
'patronizing' is a very interesting word choice for the title of this post, given the content.
5.24.2007 8:49pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Francis: I at first wrote "patronizing (or matronizing?)," but then concluded that the "matronizing" might be interpreted (incorrectly) as a reference to Prof. Bartow's gender, as opposed to her being condescending on supposedly feminist grounds.
5.24.2007 8:53pm
Mark Buehner (mail):

Why didn't I ask people at the Women's Studies Department?


Maybe for the same reason i wouldnt necessarilly go to the music department for the average Americans take on Mozart, or the ethnic studies department for both sides of the affirmitive action debate. To a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

And if you ever need to clear out a room full of women btw, try bringing up your prostate. What a fatuous argument that was...
5.24.2007 9:34pm
dearieme:
What sort of feminism is it? Churlish and graceless, certainly. About par, then.
5.24.2007 9:42pm
anon252 (mail):
Ann Bartow, the Brian Leiter of the Feminists.
5.24.2007 9:44pm
Erasmus (mail):
anon252, what does that even mean?
5.24.2007 9:49pm
Barbara Skolaut (mail):
"What sort of feminism is it that faults people for asking actual women about their experiences, and for trying to start a public conversation in which women's opinions are actively solicited, on the grounds that the questioner should instead have gone to the library or taken up the time of his colleagues?"

The same sort of "feminism" that whines loudly and often about "oppression" of women by American/Western (preferably white) men, but are totally silent about the true and very real oppression and murder of women by non-white men in Middle Eastern and African countries.

Pfui.
5.24.2007 9:51pm
not-quite-dead-white-guy (mail):
From one white male to another: keep your head down on these issues. You just can't win. You can use the very same words, same phrases, and some arguments that women do, and you will still get trotted out as an example of all that's wrong with the world. You will become the lightning rod for all sorts of unfocused anger and frustration. Why step forward?
5.24.2007 9:56pm
Nathan_M (mail):
Professor Bartow was hardly unique in finding the post patronizing, see e.g. http://feministing.com/archives/007075.html#more. As for why it's condesending, I think it's in large part because of the tone you take in talking about a subject which you've admitted you know basically nothing. It sounds like you're talking to a twelve year-old.

More importantly, you are implictly assuming women will have certain types of reactions, which mostly seem to be stereotypical and juvinile, to menstration. The non-patronizing way to approach asking this question, I think, would be to do it in an open-ended way, instead of suggesting some fairly ridiculous answers.

The context of the site, with comments like "Women will lose the 'No, I'm having my period' excuse" doesn't exactly help.

As for Professor Bartow's point about the majority of the posters not being women, there's not much doubt that. I counted six people with comments who weren't clearly men for either the content of their post, their email address, or their website (Amber, Barbara Skolaut, Just a Thought, Nikki, UVAgirl, and none), and if I had a hat I'd eat it if all of those people are women.
5.24.2007 9:56pm
neurodoc:
Why didn't I ask people at the Women's Studies Department? Maybe because it would have been a bit of an imposition on colleagues' time (and, if I asked for personal experiences about menstruation, might have be seen by some of them as somewhat intrusive), whereas a query to readers is not such an imposition, since it's very easy for any reader to take or leave.

If one had a physics question, one couldn't do better than to ask it of the school's physics faculty, especially one so excellent as UCLA's. But if one wanted a sense of women's perspective on a subject, including this one, would the school's women's studies department be the best place to look for it? I don't think so. I imagine few other university departments are as likely to be tainted with ideologic/political "biases" as a women's studies department,* and I would not place much reliance on the views expressed by that faculty as representative of women's views generally. (But then I wouldn't have asked this question in this forum, either.)

*Maybe Middle Eastern Studies departments are more tainted by ideologic/political biases than Women's Studies departments.
5.24.2007 9:58pm
Tully (mail) (www):
Don't you know that actual individual women can have nothing useful to say, that only a Women's Studies Department can provide an authoritative collective answer?
5.24.2007 10:01pm
Drake:
I found your "Seeking Input" post to be a disappointment, coming from you. You, as a man, were quite patronizing about a subject for which you had no epistemic authority. Then, rather than simply asking, "I could be wrong, being a man. So, what do women say?" you asked a series of patronizingly loaded questions:

When you menstruate, do you feel that you're part of the "in crowd"? If you chose to stop -- not because of menopause, which is a marker of age and of lost fertility, but voluntarily and reversibly -- would you feel "out"? Do you smile and talk to your friends about the cramps, the mood swings, and the like?


You would (rightly) call out any liberal who posted a similar "inquiry." If you want to criticize it, fine. If you want a female response, fine. But don't criticize something you know nothing about and then arrogantly poison the well. I've always respected the careful, honest reasoning of this blog. But this was a disappointment.
5.24.2007 10:01pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
You will become the lightning rod for all sorts of unfocused anger and frustration. Why step forward?

Because women are interesting.

Since you ask, the woman sends the man on quests, so that he can prove his suitability as a provider ; and, if things work out as they should, she'll accept most of the results, and show him she's satisfied with him. This is all the poor guy really wants.

One sort of failure is the woman going into quest-only mode, and refusing to accept any result. Then it becomes nagging. She's never satisfied. No test is ever passed.

Another sort of failure is abstracting from the particular man and sending all men on quests. Here it is not possible to show satisfaction, for there is no man to show satisfaction to, and it becomes nagging of all men in general. This is academic feminism. ``Something is wrong and you have to change to fix it.''

On the male's view, see James Tate's poem The Blue Booby

Try to imagine a feminist in that scene.
5.24.2007 10:16pm
Avatar (mail):
Frankly, I'm mystified that you'd even -think- to look at the Women's Studies department for this kind of topic. Red flags and bulls come to mind. And navigating the many, many books on the topic with no guidance is a lot of work for something that is, after all, a casual inquiry. I don't want to break open a 300-page discourse only to find out later that I've read the Women's Studies equivalent of Holocaust denial or something.

Not living in an episode of Seinfeld, I'd definitely hesitate before finding a female acquaintance and asking, "Hey! Menstruation! What's THAT all about?"

Anybody know of a good reference for this sort of thing? I mean, being a guy's pretty simple from an organic perspective, I pretty much have THAT down...
5.24.2007 10:17pm
z:
It's patronizing because you've already revealed yourself to be kind of a perv, with your weird little obsession with gay men's health and all that, so you don't get the benefit of the doubt anymore.
5.24.2007 10:25pm
David Sucher (mail) (www):
Considering a comment (in the original post) like

"Yet it amazes me how women who have had elective c-sections are shunned by the sisterhood. And plenty of women who had to have emergency c-sections end up making themselves miserable because they were denied a natural experience."

your question is entirely reasonable.
5.24.2007 10:56pm
Paul Zrimsek (mail):
Bizarre self-comment from Bartow:

Really, you think those commenters are really women?

Of course they're really women. All the men fled the room when EV mentioned menstruation... right?
5.24.2007 10:59pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
I didn't take the tone or the title as offensive at all. One can make them sound offensive by reading them with the assumption that they are snide. But the tone that you are hearing - Drake, Nathan_M, Ann Bartow, et al - isn't in the text. You are bringing it yourself.
5.24.2007 11:03pm
goldsmith (mail):

It's patronizing because you've already revealed yourself to be kind of a perv, with your weird little obsession with gay men's health and all that, so you don't get the benefit of the doubt anymore.


Discussing gay men's health is perverse? Geez, is that you, reincarnated already, Rev. Falwell?
5.24.2007 11:05pm
SwampWoman:
Huh. Does this mean the next time I want to ask my spouse, son, or a male friend about a man's perspective on something that instead, I'll need to find the Mens Studies Department at the nearest university?

Seems to me that the question was addressed to anybody that menstruates. If the menstruator finds some kind of life-affirming celebration and satisfaction in the act of menstruation, she should probably be under the care of a competent psychiatrist or get a job. Sheesh. That said, no, I wouldn't take the product because I'm not sure of the long-term safety, and I'm not troubled sufficiently by pain or severe mood swings to think it would be worthwhile.
5.24.2007 11:11pm
Jim Hu:
Maybe it's just me, but I'm guessing that saying "Feminist Law Professor" is more likely to clear a room of men than "uterus".
5.24.2007 11:14pm
Drake:
Okay, Assistant Village Idiot, I'll give E.V. the benefit of the doubt on the tone. But I was disappointed that he loaded the questions. I can't count how many times I've seen some article/editorial picked apart here for similar reasons.
5.24.2007 11:41pm
Truth Seeker:
Okay, I'll say it. The elephant in the living room is that women hate menstruation, they hate the fact that men don't have to suffer though it or something equal, and they think every time men mention it we are secretly laughing about them. At least that's what I learned from a (former) girlfriend.
5.24.2007 11:48pm
Eric Anondson (mail):
Bizarre comment by Bartow:Really, you think those commenters are really women?

Paul Zrimsek: Of course they're really women. All the men fled the room when EV mentioned menstruation... right?

Now you are making entirely too much sense. You weren't supposed to notice that I gather.
5.24.2007 11:51pm
occidental tourist (mail):

Maybe it's just me, but I'm guessing that saying "Feminist Law Professor" is more likely to clear a room of men than "uterus".



Jim Hu finally hit the nail on the head. If Bartow wanted to make the point that Volokh's open questioning could be read as snide in tone, it was completely lost in her treating him so sarcastically.

More to the point, if she feels the topic is adequately treated in the literature of her field, she could offer a distillation instead of making her own snide remarks about sending him to womens studies kindergarten.

Leaves me wondering, whether the question was asked 'sensitively' or not, why Bartow seems uninterested in the answer, but very interested in shooting the messenger.

Another man wrote the beginning of this story when Gladwell penned John Rock's Error for the New Yorker.

While questions of the long term effect of birth control pills were open at the time they first came to market, I am really surprised that there has not been a previous product aimed at stopping menstruation.

I have never met a women who didn't testify to considering menstruation a nuisance if the topic entered our conversation. Most that I know at least seemed to imply that if there were medication to end periods they would do so without regard to the birth control aspects.

Maybe this fem-talk is an analog to male bravado and women, although occasionally challenged by the process, nonetheless have a conscious or subconscious embrace of this gender specific gift and curse.

Like Eugene, I'm don't have a burning desire to know the answer, but I find it an interesting question.

Brian
5.25.2007 12:00am
Fat Man (mail):
Eugene:

Get a grip dude. You do not need to have an opinion on this subject. It is not your problem.

Women are beyond male comprehension, and that is OK. Learn to deal with it. The correct answer to all questions about women's physical issues is: "How about them Mets?"
5.25.2007 12:02am
Daryl Herbert (www):
What sort of feminism is it that faults people for asking actual women about their experiences

Only men are ever faulted for this, not people in general!

Likewise, men are faulted for ignoring what actual women think when they look for information on these subjects. If you went straight to the library to look at books written by male researchers, you're a pig.

Also, men are faulted if we don't want information on these subjects. If you don't give a damn about menstruation, then you're callous about women's perspectives and blah blah blah.

Feminists demand the right to control the discourse completely. We're just supposed to nod after they say something. We shouldn't speak out of turn (and it's never our turn).

They are especially upset if you say something they might agree with. As long as you say things they consider misogynistic and crude, you aren't a threat, you're something to mock. But when you show that a libertarian with a lot of right-wing views is perfectly capable of understanding the basics of treating women like equals and individuals with their own legitimate perspectives, you show that you don't need to be left-wing to be a decent person. That's really what burns them up.

So they pretend like your question stood completely on its own and reflected your actual views (as if you were saying "hey ladies, this is what I think, do you agree?") when in actuality you were phrasing it as you might have expected from the person you were reacting to. Are they completely blind to nuance, or do they just see what they want to see?

Certainly feminists don't always speak 100% earnestly. There is no dearth of sarcasm on the feminist side. The feminist idea of humor is to caricature something right-wing in a caustic, sarcastic, totally unfair manner, and then cackle with glee whilst stirring their cauldron. (They are genuinely baffled why most people say hardline feminists are humorless, so they just chalk it up to misogyny, their answer for everything they don't understand about the world, which usually also includes market economics and physics.)

How should the average man wander through this minefield? The best way is, don't. Let some brave sucker like EV go first, and then when he's attacked by rabid, hysterical uterotropes, point out the absurdity and laugh (which is what Glenn Reynolds did).

Of course, Glenn is in a good position. Helen won't make him sleep on the couch every time he gets into a snit with some feminist blogger, because she's cool (John Edwards, on the other hand...)
5.25.2007 12:04am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Drake,

This notion of epistemic authority which you assume is utterly ridiculous.

My claim is that men are inherently superior to women because we have all been pretending to be less awesome and smart than we really are for thousands of years. Or how about my claim that no man has ever enjoyed sex and it's all an act. Does it follow that a woman can't mock these claims because she lacks male epistemic authority?

If everyone avoided making any conclusions or mocking any view, no matter how absurd, about a group they aren't a part of we could never get anywhere. As for a 'dismissive' tone even if we accept that it was dismissive this is only a problem if the view was reasonable. Offering a dismissive tone about the absurd suggestions above would be perfectly reasonable even lacking 'epistemic authority a man. So unless you are a partisan of the importance of menstruation this still isn't a compelling object.
5.25.2007 12:06am
Daryl Herbert (www):
You're a man. That's reason enough for her to consider you wrong.

And if you're a woman commenter, they will accuse you of being a man.
5.25.2007 12:10am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I think I've enjoyed reading this comment thread more than most lately... thanks!
5.25.2007 12:32am
crane (mail):
Ann Bartow Says:

I think many are posting in drag, for lack of better way to describe the situation, but who knows.


This I don't get at all. Does she think a bunch of men independently decided to pretend to be women and talk about their imaginary experiences with menstruation? Or entered into a conspiracy to do so? The Gender Genie text-analysis program may think I'm a man, but that doesn't stop me from getting knocked out by cramps once a month.

Although I have to admit, your phrasing in that initial set of questions made me want to beat you about the head and shoulders with a hot-water bottle. "Part of the in-crowd", indeed.
5.25.2007 12:37am
anon-woman (mail):
It's the utter, "gosh, well, I don't know," tone to your question. "In-crowd," "out," cheesy and off-the-mark as anything. Did your wife roll her eyes the inquiry, "Do you smile and talk to your friends about the cramps, the mood swings, and the like"? If so, that oughtta been a clue.

Now, I'd understand full well if your wife didn't want you blogging that, "I asked my wife about this and her views are.... Do the female Volokh conspiracy readers agree with his or not, and why?" (Similar desires to speak only privately about private matters are why I'm "anon-woman").

Even as you're defending yourself against a ridiculous chage, you haven't ceased asking same sort of facetious questions that got you into trouble in the first place. The correct answer to, "What sort of feminism is it that faults people for asking actual women about their experiences...?" is, the same sort of people who give any group a bad name if you take them too seriously.

Part of blogging's joy lies in asking commenters for their individual opinions. A respectful use of tact will prevent you from getting jumped on.
5.25.2007 1:11am
Roy Haddad (mail):
A "respectful use of tact" will make you <i>boring and dull</i> for no good reason.

I read the tone as expressing mild incredulity at the <i>notion</i> that women bonding over menstruation is sufficiently valuable to consider keeping it.

Those interpreting the post in less pleasant ways are violating the principle of charity, and with people who do that, it is very hard to defend yourself.
5.25.2007 1:43am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Drake, anon-woman: I'm not quite sure I grasp the objections to the questions I asked. Recall that the post began with a quote from (male) commenter Triet, who argued that many women derive "meaning" from menstruation as they do from pregnancy:
It's been amazing seeing my wife and other women deal with her first pregnancy. Immediately upon announcing to the world she's pregnant, my wife was part of the "in crowd." Every mother--whether she knew my wife well or not--could smile and talk about morning sickness, or finding out the baby's gender, or feeling bloated, etc.

So, it is not aesthetic. Humanity derives meaning from shared experiences, and deleting one of the most universal and central of all female experiences can subtract perceived meaning from people's lives. In that regard it is very important.
I explained why I thought pregnancy was quite different from menstruation, so that the commenter's pregnancy-menstruation analogy was unsound. I then posed the questions entirely as a response to the analogy:
[L]et's hear from some people who actually menstruate, and have been pregnant. When you menstruate, do you feel that you're part of the "in crowd"? If you chose to stop -- not because of menopause, which is a marker of age and of lost fertility, but voluntarily and reversibly -- would you feel "out"? Do you smile and talk to your friends about the cramps, the mood swings, and the like? Do you feel you derive meaning from the fact that you share menstruation as an experience with other women? Would you feel meaning subtracted if you stopped menstruating, because menstruation is so "central" a "female experience[]"? Do you find menstruation to be similar to pregnancy in any emotionally positive way?
I naturally expected that the answers to all these questions would be "no" -- that was my argument. (I didn't ask my wife these questions because I had a pretty good of what her answers would likely be.) But I was open to the possibility that the answers might be "yes" to one or more; if many women commenters took that view, that might revise my view that the original commenter's analogy was inapt.

So I'm puzzled why the questions should be seen as patronizing or loaded to the women commenters whose responses I was seeking. They are phrased as they are simply because they are attempts to rebut an analogy that Triet was making. When someone says "menstruation and pregnancy are analogous, and pregnancy is A, B, and C," it seems sensible to explore the analogy by asking whether menstruation is A, B, and C, too.

Is it that people didn't connect that my questions were just quotes from Triet's comment, aimed at showing that Triet's analogy was unsound? Or was the connection understood, but this sort of criticism of Triet's analogy was nonetheless seen as disrespectful of readers?

As to "know[ing] nothing about" the subject, I surely can't claim great knowledge, but fortunately there are other ways of knowing than first-hand experience (or poring through libraries). Listening for 20+ years to various women I know, I've heard lots of fond comments about pregnancy (despite the discomfort), but no fond comments about menstruation (setting aside the occasional, but in my view rather different, relief at menstruation as a sign of lack of pregnancy). I've also heard, both from friends and from media comments, lots about the discomfort of menstruation.

Now it's possible that there are secret joys to menstruating that women just don't talk about around men (or at least around me). That's why I thought it was indeed useful to solicit women commenters' input (which so far seems to largely support my initial views). But I thought I had enough to form a tentative opinion that by and large women would want to avoid a condition that is often associated with discomfort (sometimes quite serious discomfort) and hassle. That's the sort of casual knowledge that all of us often have about a lot of subjects -- hardly deep, certain, or personal-experience-based knowledge, but some knowledge nonetheless.
5.25.2007 1:47am
Nathan_M (mail):
Professor Volokh, I think you've over analyzing what you posted. People didn't find it patronizing after long consideration of what you meant, but because of the title and (to a much greater extent) the final paragraph.
5.25.2007 2:20am
rank and file male:
EV

some people are telling you to stop this converstaiton b/c people are already emotional and its an emotional subject...and the intelectual quality of your time is bogged bdown by it...

the thats the price you pay for crusading against the crazy nazi feminists and engainging in a real honest debate about the opinions of more modest ones....its just like saying bad about any ideology or religion any people take seriously...

you might want to put yourself out there and make the crazys look crazy...and hope that influences people who are more polarized and irrational to step back...

or you get tired and leave..b/c there is more to life...im surprised you made it this far.
5.25.2007 3:00am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Nathan_M: Well, if people read the title but don't consider the sentences to which the title refers, and if they read the last paragraph but don't consider the earlier paragraph to which it refers, then there's not a lot I can do about that. Nor do I think that it would take "long consideration" to see the internal references -- the phrases in the last paragraph are quoted, which should be a pretty clear signal that I'm referring back to someone else's words, as a means of rebutting that other person's argument using his own locutions.

It's hard enough to write a post that makes sense to people who read it all. It's too hard to write a post that that won't be misinterpreted by people who don't look closely at all of it (all six paragraphs, that is to say).
5.25.2007 3:37am
Jen:
I've been menstruating for about 24 years now, minus time for a couple of pregnancies. The first time I bonded with someone over menstruation, it was when I discovered the only other 8th grade girl who had not started her period. Bonding over not having periods. When I was pregnant, I discussed with other pregnant women how no periods was such a bonus. Bonding over not having periods. Now? Many of the adult corporate women in my peer group take the pill not to have periods and love to talk about how it is a godsend. This includes women who have had tubal ligations and take the pill just to avoid the periods. They're bonding over not having periods, too. Can't wait to bond over- you guessed it, menopause.
5.25.2007 4:16am
JM Hanes (mail):
Daryl Herbert: "Only men are ever faulted for this, not people in general!"

Surely you jest! For a sample of how feminists treat women who don't meet their ideological standards, try Debra Dickerson's fulminating attempt to eviscerate Michelle Obama.


Eugene Volokh:

Not to worry, the women who responded to your question clearly didn't feel they needed anybody's Women's Studies Dept. running interference for them. In contrast to both your query and the ensuing replies, Ms. Barstow's rejoinder was notably free of substance; she's preening in the mirror of her own self regard, and you, alas, are really more prop than provocation. I had to laugh when I got to her comment on those of us who chose to take your question at face value:
I think many are posting in drag, for lack of better way to describe the situation, but who knows.
I'm not sure how lacking something better is actually possible, but if the intellectual effort required is such a stretch, I'd suggest that it's Ms. Barstow who "needs to be educated gently and incrementally." She takes the laurels for obtuseness here. No one can condescendingly dismiss other women like a feminist.
5.25.2007 4:39am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
And of course:

Q: How many Women's Studies professors does it take to change a light bulb?

A: That's not funny!
5.25.2007 5:03am
Nathan_M (mail):
Professor Volokh, being a man who wasn't offended I stand to be corrected by a women who was, but I think the complaint was about the style and writing of the post, rather than the substance. (I doubt Professor Bartow, or the other women's, reaction would be quite so casual otherwise.)

But without questioning anything you've posted, when a large group of people (mis)interpret something you've written, I don't think it's fair to blame the readers. Even though you didn't intend it, if most women who read the post find it patronizing, then isn't it, by definition?

Some of the commentators here have done our best to explain why it created that impression (and Eric's parody in Professor Bartow's comments is, I think, dead on). If you (no doubt after much fairer consideration than the commentator complaining about nazi femenists) can't see why, I don't really know what to say aside from to trust us.

(This is completely off topic, and I hope not patronizing because I'm not in a position to give someone who is a better writer and lawyer metaphorical advice, but this situation reminds me of something that happened in a trial advocacy course I took. A practitioner, one of the top ones in our city, was doing a mock cross-examination of his junior associate, who was playing the role of a Hooters waitress who was a witness at a murder trial. He started the cross by asking her if what she was wearing (a suit) was what she usually wore, or whether she dressed up for court. After this, he continued with a more standard, and I though extremely effective, cross examination.
At the end of it, he was asked by a student why he asked about what the witness was wearing. He explained he did it because usually witnesses aren't prepared for questions like that, and it can make them uncomfortable, with obvious benefits for his cross. After the class, my friends and I spoke about which lawyer who had demonstrated had done the best job. I, and my male friends, thought this particular lawyer had the best cross, all but one of my female friends thought he had done the worst -- they were so offended by the start that he lost them entirely.
I was shocked by this. Honestly, even in retrospect I don't entirely understand why they were offended. But that doesn't make the reaction any less sincere; not to mention unfortunate for the lawyer involved if he were in a jury trial.
I guess my point is you seem to be saying "I don't understand this reaction, and here's what's wrong with it". Given that you can't change how the rest of the world will view what you write, I would suggest the better reaction is to try to see why the reaction occurred, even if you can't entirely empathize with it, so you can avoid similar reactions in the future. If I'm right that it was due entirely to tone, and not to content, I don't think this would involve any self-censorship.)
(Also off topic -- love the blog.)
5.25.2007 5:31am
Acksiom (mail) (www):
Even though you didn't intend it, if most women who read the post find it patronizing, then isn't it, by definition?


In an objective word,

NO.
5.25.2007 5:56am
Nathan_M (mail):
I can't even begin to imagine an objective way to determine if a piece of writing is patronizing, or offensive, or funny, or well-written, or, well, you get the idea. I guess that's why I think it's subjective.
5.25.2007 6:05am
checkingthegate (mail):
What sort of feminism is it that faults people for asking actual women about their experiences, and for trying to start a public conversation in which women's opinions are actively solicited, on the grounds that the questioner should instead have gone to the library or taken up the time of his colleagues?


It's the kind of feminism that tries to ensure only the party line gets around. Heaven forbid you should ask the everyday woman her experiences because they will, in all likelihood, deeply contradict the elitist, myopic, gender-biased writing found in academic text.
5.25.2007 7:38am
Cory Olson (mail):
From SwampWoman:


Huh. Does this mean the next time I want to ask my spouse, son, or a male friend about a man's perspective on something that instead, I'll need to find the Mens Studies Department at the nearest university?


Trick question.
5.25.2007 9:58am
SwampWoman:
Heh. Cory, I was wondering if anybody would notice that one.
5.25.2007 10:19am
SwampWoman:
Heh. Cory, I was wondering if anybody would notice that one.
5.25.2007 10:19am
Seamus (mail):
And if you ever need to clear out a room full of women btw, try bringing up your prostate.

That will clear the room of a good number of men, too. I, for one, don't wan't to discuss it except in my doctor's office, and even then, not for very long. (I want the conversation to stop loooong before the latex gloves come out.)
5.25.2007 10:54am
Seamus (mail):
Let be me more clear: I want the conversation to go to other topics so that latex gloves never become an issue.
5.25.2007 10:55am
lralston (mail):
Thoughts from the Ladies' Section
Posted by Christine Hurt

Eugene Volokh has issued a blogospheric dare for bloggers who actually menstruate to comment on the new birth control pill that eliminates menstruation. I can't believe that I'm falling for this; Gordon will surely kick me off the blog.

Specifically, Eugene wonders if there is any credibility to the argument that menstruation bonds women together, similarly to the way in which pregnancy and childbirth bond women together. Hmmm. Here are all my thoughts on this off-topic topic. I'll put them below the fold so that corporate law wonks will be spared -- menstruation has been a below the fold kind of topic until recent years, so consider it an homage.

1. Yes, pregnancy and childbirth make women part of a very large club whose members have something very important in common. Consider it like sports for men, or Dungeons and Dragons. Female culture doesn't have a common theme that most girls' youth revolves around that joins generations of women together other than fertility and childbirth. I remember finally having something in common with my grandma when I got pregnant. Menstruation is similar. When girls begin to menstruate, they do join sort of a club, but it's much more underground. Once girls begin to menstruate at school, their other friends want to also. No one wants to be left out of this growing up thing, obviously.

2. Menstruation might be more of a bonding thing in this country if the culture were different. In the U.S., our culture is one of sanitizing and deodorizing must bodily functions. We shave a lot, bathe a lot, shampoo a lot, powder and perfume a lot, etc. Menstruation runs against that. So to some extent, especially among young girls, menstruation is embarrassing. The onset of menses also comes when girls are the most self-conscious they will ever be, adding to the secrecy and embarrassment. I'm not sure it has to be that way, though.

3. Hasn't any one ever read the Red Tent?

4. I do think that the natural end of menstruation usually comes with some sadness. It is an end of an era. Some women may be liberated by the end of that era. However, I think in today's age when many women have pushed their childbearing years much closer to their menopausal years, the end of fertility seems to be fairly salient. When women had their children by 25 or at least 30, menopause 20 or 30 years later may have seemed like a tardy visitor they had been expecting for a long time. (There was actually a Sex and the City episode about this when three of the four women were menstruating at the same time, but Samantha wasn't, making her fear that she was menopausal.) Obviously, it's hard to separate the end of menses with thoughts on the aging process generally.

5. Much conversation has asked "why not" eliminate menstruation, but I'm not sure I've heard a great reason for "why." Although some women have very painful periods and would have a medical reason for eliminating menstruation, I'm not sure why the average woman would. Breakthroughs in menstruation products have substantially decreased the muss and fuss of menstruation. I would suspect that for most American women, their cycles come and go without much thought.

6. I don't think this pill is really about discomfort, hygiene or convenience. I think it's about casual sex. There, I said it. My co-bloggers can kick me off, and I guess my tenure clock is stalled now. Menstruation doesn't get in the way of many daily activities any more, like sports or swimming, but it may get in the way of casual sex with people you don't know well. Who will benefit from this pill? Not the eighth grade girls of the world who suffer supreme embarrassment by Aunt Flo coming on the days they wear white capri pants, but the grown men and women of the world who may meet each other later that night. So let's quit couching this pill as "unchaining women from the bathroom."
5.25.2007 11:17am
p. rich (mail) (www):
EV.

It's tough to explore a topic that hinges on what women "feel" about it. Throw in a little female mysticism, and intellectual discourse is not likely to be forthcoming.

And as for the implication, repeated here in various forms, that "true" knowledge comes from personal experience: if that were accurate, we would all be sitting outside mud huts picking cow dung from between our toes with sticks.

Oh, wait. That sounds more like a guy thing.
5.25.2007 11:24am
Shinobi (mail) (www):
Eugene, I thought your post was kindof funny (especially the title) and I read some of it as being more of a joke on you, than on the people you were querying.

However, I think when one broaches something so personal (like menstruation) it can really go the wrong way if you try to be too funny. I myself have learned the lesson "don't be to glib" many a time, like the time I told a person who was annoying me to go "throw themselves off a building" only to find out that they were suicidal. Sometimes it is better to watch how you say things.

And yes it is personal, in my circle it is rarely mentioned. If it is mentioned it is only brought up so that supplies and perhaps vague sympathy can be shared. But I don't really know anyone who thinks that it's "SUPER COOL!" "How's your Flow today Marie? Heavy? yeah? MINE TO! HOW COOL!!!" (Then maybe I just gravitate away from women like that. Who knows.)

I think the important thing to realize about this pill, and about menstruation is that every woman in America is going to have her own experiences and her own opions that she will bring to bear on this issue. It is a very personal issue, which is why each woman has to be able to make decisions about this on her own, (or with the help of her doctor.) And while there are probably some very large camps, in the end, it's an individual choice. Every woman is going to have their own individual reasons and motivations for taking or not taking this and any other form of birth control.

In the end... it's a personal and individual choice. So I would say to you, as well as the government, or any other group who was SO interested in what I want to do with my body (big pharma? The Christian Right?) "None of your beeswax."

PS. Can I just say that the idea of some kind of Pregnant "In Crowd" makes me feel like I have morning sickness? Maybe, it's not about the PREGNANCY, but the Motherhood, much like men whose wives are pregnant for the first time now enter the father hood. Just sayin.
5.25.2007 12:15pm
Houston Lawyer:
Then she was always kind of big for her age and "pooberty" hit her hard - that'll do it you know.
5.25.2007 12:28pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Nathan_M: I'm with Acksiom on this one.
5.25.2007 12:29pm
JM Hanes (mail):
On second thought, EV:
What sort of feminism is it that faults people for asking actual women about their experiences, and for trying to start a public conversation in which women's opinions are actively solicited, on the grounds that the questioner should instead have gone to the library or taken up the time of his colleagues?
Hate to fault your formulation of yet another question, but wouldn't it be more accurate to ask: "What sort of feminism is it that insults people for asking actual women about their experiences -- or something?" What's missing in Fem-World is any sense of proportion. You're to mind your tone (and subtext!), while the feminist feels free to operate without restraint.

The idea that you should have sought your answers in feminist research was not the basis of Barstow's complaint, it was an ex post facto attempt to rehabilitate a rant. She actually started out suggesting you consult Judy Blume, and I suspect she simply found it embarassing to admit that her post was intended to be clever and funny. That's a bright side, really, because evidence of any sense of humor in a feminist, is as rare as proportionality -- and perhaps even worth nuturing. :)
5.25.2007 1:13pm
Steve2:
You know, I spent a fair bit of time interacting with the Women's Studies program (can't remember if they've made it a department yet or not) while I was at Vanderbilt. Took a pair of classes, even, and the professors were nice and reasonable people, and the majors and minors tended to be the same. Did I just have an atypically good experience there, or is the field really not all as terrible as it's made out to be?
5.25.2007 2:20pm
IConrad (mail) (www):
To EV: I meant Professor Barstow.

To Iralston: A good argument "for" the elimination of periods? How about health concerns? Nobody knows absolutely for certain what the health risks are for having such an abnormally high number of menses in ones life as our modern culture causes. No studies have been performed on exactly that issue; but it is fairly safe to assume that the body wasn't meant to have so many.

In the "natural order", a woman could expect to have between 1 and 2 dozen menses in her entire life. If current trends continue, most girls growing up today will have experienced more than this before they become a teenager.

This is a major health concern, and should be taken into consideration.
5.25.2007 6:20pm
Am I A Pundit Now? (mail) (www):
Wow, Iralston up there actually answered EV's questions!

It was like pulling teeth. But finally someone stopped looking to be offended, or stopped scratching their heading deciding if they were offended or not, and engaged in an actual discourse!

I think we made progress here today.

And Iralston, you are now the official spokeswoman for all women, everywhere.
5.25.2007 9:27pm
Nancy (www):
The same sort of "feminism" that whines loudly and often about "oppression" of women by American/Western (preferably white) men, but are totally silent about the true and very real oppression and murder of women by non-white men in Middle Eastern and African countries.

Pfui.


Katha Pollitt totally trashed that lie, Christina Sommers:
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070611/pollitt

Wow, Volokh, you sure have a major feminist-hating strain in your readership. I wonder why?
5.25.2007 9:49pm
Am I A Pundit Now? (mail) (www):
'Hate' seems much too strong a term to use. I haven't detected any hate in this thread.

Unless poking fun at humorless political agendas constitutes 'hate'.
5.26.2007 12:16am
anon female prof:
Dear Eugene: I have no doubt that you had good intentions(hey, just like Monica Goodling -- sorry, couldn't resist!) when you posted your questions. That said, the post did strike me as irritating and somewhat patronizing in tone. Here's why it struck me that way: Part of it is context. My sense of this blog is that the authors &commentators are overwhelmingly male and that comments more than occasionally degenerate into uninformed anti-feminist rants that lump "FEMINISM" in with, oh, say, Satan, Hitler, Stalin, take your pick (See, e.g., THIS very comment thread). (And might I add that these insulting and uninformed comments are PARTICULARLY hard to stomach when they combine implicit claims of moral &intellectual superiority with name-calling and rampant spelling mistakes ... (see, again, e.g., THIS COMMENT THREAD (sigh))

Against that backdrop, you have a post that specifically calls upon women to ask them about, what ... not their views on abortion &substantive due process, not their take on the Presidential race or the U.S. Attorney controversy, but THEIR FRIGGING PERIODS.

Now, I KNOW that you were just following up on another poster's question. But I personally had a sense that the very fact that you considered this a valid and substantial enough topic (and set of suggestions) to make a special plea for input from female readers, was strange and somewhat trivializing of women. As in: "hey, it's cool that we have virtually no female input around here when we're talkin' 'bout the REAL issues, but now that we're on GIRL STUFF, let's see what the ladies have to say??" And again, this sense was bolstered by the fact that the initial set of suggestions on which you followed up (that periods may make women feel bonded with one another, etc.) were SO SILLY that it intrinisically felt kind of trivializing that you would think this to be worthy of a special post to call upon that special, mystical female expertise that's so lacking on this post with respect to "regular" issues.

And to try to stave off at least ONE otherwise inevitable set of comments: I AM NOT SUGGESTING THAT EUGENE (OR OTHER AUTHORS) SHOULD MAKE SPECIAL PLEAS FOR FEMALE INPUT ON OTHER ISSUES EITHER. My point is simply that the general lack of female voices around here, combined with rampant anti-feminism in a number of threads, combined with THIS instance of seeking-out female expertise for special, mystical girly-knowledge about periods, created a tone that could seem insulting.
5.26.2007 12:50am
JosephSlater (mail):
IMHO, anon female prof. is exactly right on everything she says.
5.26.2007 1:32pm
DRJ (mail):
How does AnonFemaleProf know that the commenters here are overwhelmingly male? Even if that's true, how can s/he know that the views expressed by the apparently-male-commenters conflict with the opinions held by females?
5.26.2007 4:37pm
Am I A Pundit Now? (mail) (www):
What is so insulting about "seeking-out female expertise for special, mystical girly-knowledge about periods" especially given that a drug that can eliminate menstruation is big in the news?

Are you suggesting that only women may comment or ask about this topic? Is it a private reserve for feminists to discuss?

Also, since when are anti-feminist views 'insulting'? Any criticism of feminism is always and forever ipso facto an insult?

Feminism is beyond criticism?

AnonFemaleProf, you seem far more interested in shutting down debate than engaging in it in a reasonable way.
5.26.2007 5:35pm
mitzy:
"Am I a Pundit Now" writes:

Feminism is beyond criticism?

AnonFemaleProf, you seem far more interested in shutting down debate than engaging in it in a reasonable way.


Er, right, "Am I a Pundit Now." Like the reasoned debate about feminism you engaged in when you said:

'Hate' seems much too strong a term to use. I haven't detected any hate in this thread.

Unless poking fun at humorless political agendas constitutes 'hate'.


Or "rank and file male"'s wisdom:

the thats the price you pay for crusading against the crazy nazi feminists and engainging in a real honest debate about the opinions of more modest ones....its just like saying bad about any ideology or religion any people take seriously...

Clearly you, "rank and file male," et al. have much to teach us all about feminism. Please, tell us more, engage us in more intellectual "debate" before those politically correct feminazis try to shut things down ...

While you're at it, why don't you offer a review of a single bit of feminist scholarship that you've ever read, since clearly you have much to say on the topic, if only the femi-nazis didn't keep shutting you down.
5.26.2007 6:05pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
anon female prof: My point is simply that the general lack of female voices around here, combined with rampant anti-feminism in a number of threads, combined with THIS instance of seeking-out female expertise for special, mystical girly-knowledge about periods, created a tone that could seem insulting.

So the irate and unjustified feminist explosion of rage was justified by the snarky anti-feminist comments that predictably followed it?

E.V., maybe you should make a post seeking out women's perspectives on chronology.
5.26.2007 6:52pm
mitzy:
Er, DH, maybe you should "make a post seeking out" assistance on reading comprehension. AFP was clearly referring to the anti-feminist threads on Volokh GENERALLY, as EXEMPLIFIED by the ones that came up AS USUAL in this thread. Her point was that the ex-post-facto comments exemplify the larger trend of anti-feminist comments that long pre-existed this set of threads. Funny how well you folks are illustrating AFP's comment about the frustration of reading commentary that on top of everything else can't even get basic logic, reading comprehension, semi-complex thought, etc. straight.
5.26.2007 6:59pm
mitzy:
Just to help you out further, DH, I'll quote from AFP:

My sense of this blog is that the authors &commentators are overwhelmingly male and that comments more than occasionally degenerate into uninformed anti-feminist rants

As anyone who's done well on the SAT reading comprehension section could tell you, AFP was referring to the comment threads on the VC generally, she was not basing her argument on this particular thread.
5.26.2007 7:07pm
Am I A Pundit Now? (mail) (www):
So what if there are anti-feminist threads all throughout this blog?

Again, are you arguing that feminism is, or should be, beyond criticism?

Or are you saying that you will not participate in a debate unless you know beforehand that the forum agrees with you entirely?

If you believed so much in your cause, you wouldn't be chased off so easily just because the debate is not packaged just perfectly to your specifications.


Clearly you, "rank and file male," et al. have much to teach us all about feminism. Please, tell us more, engage us in more intellectual "debate" before those politically correct feminazis try to shut things down ...


I could teach you plenty about feminism, if you were to listen. Are you curious as to why so many men scoff at feminism and oppose it, for example? My guess is no, because you are not here to debate, but rather to dictate the terms of the debate.
5.26.2007 9:05pm
Fen:
My claim is that men are inherently superior to women because we have all been pretending to be less awesome and smart than we really are for thousands of years.

Makes you wonder. How did men ever manage to subjugate women for those thousands of years? You'd think an "equal" would have broken free much sooner than the nineteenth century.
5.27.2007 4:15am
pcgirl (mail) (www):

Do you smile and talk to your friends about the cramps, the mood swings, and the like?


Therein lies the root of the venomous response(s), imho.

When I first read your post, it was that sentence, moreso than anything else in the post, that provoked me to say, "No, you idiot!"

But it also occurs to me that my emotional response to your question was based squarely on the assumption that you already know the answer, that you already know that cramps and all other symptoms of menstruation generally suck (and therefore couldn't possibly provide a meaningful point of sharing for women?). In that context, the question does seem patronizing.

By the same token, however, I also recognize that we (women) can't have it both ways -- we can't berate you for asking such a dunderheaded question, while simultaneously suggesting that you go speak with a Women's Studies prof to find out the answer. All the while, chiding you for assuming that a stereotypical answer even exists, no less.

Either you already know the answer (as we so freely take it upon ourselves to assume, despite our own recognition that women often look at their own reproductive processes differently -- some with joy at the miracle of it all, others with mild contempt for the aggravation it causes and the fact that men don't have to share the experience) or you don't. And either way, I find it interesting that the very people who got so ticked off at your asking for women's opinions are the same people who would likely have also berated you for assuming you know how women feel about a uniquely female experience. (Does the response/outrage to the all-male photo op after the Partial Birth Abortion Ban's passage ring a bell with anyone???)

Your male responders are unfortunately correct: Men can't win when trying to discuss women's issues. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

And, Ms. Bartow, lest your pretty little head worry too much over the authenticity of my response: Yes, I am a woman.
5.27.2007 8:05pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
pcgirl: I appreciate your thoughtful and detailed response, but here's why I remain puzzled. Commenter Triet, to whose post I was responding, was suggesting that menstruation is like pregnancy, in that both are "shared experience[s]," from which women derive "meaning." He also pointed out that women smile and talk to their friends about pregnancy, despite its discomforts.

My argument was that the analogy was unsound, and that pregnancy and menstruation are very different experiences in their capacity to produce life-enhancing meaning. I thought we could tell the analogy was unsound by asking whether any of the positives Triet mentioned about pregnancy apply to menstruation. So the point of my argument was that the answer to the questions would be "no" -- though, given that my reasoning was based on second-hand experience, it would be better to ask people who had first-hand experience (and if, to my great surprise, their answer was "yes," I'd revise my judgment).

So my question: Why would asking the questions, in trying to illustrate the error of Triet's reasoning, be seen as patronizing as to readers? The questions are responsive to Triet's argument, and, it seems to me, illustrate the error of his argument. They are "dunderheaded" only insofar as the argument to which I was responding, which implicitly equates pregnancy and menstruation, is unsound. I ask the questions because I think the readers are on my side as to the facts, though I'm open to being corrected by them. How are mostly (but not entirely) rhetorical questions such as these patronizing towards readers?
5.28.2007 1:39am
pcgirl (www):
That's just it, Eugene. It's only patronizing if you know the answer to the question before even asking it. Because if that's the case, then you can't have posed it as a serious question (whether quoting someone else or not), and the lack of seriousness in the question creates the perception of your patronizing female readers.


This goes back to what I was saying about women trying to have it both ways -- we can't fault you for asking the obvious (to us) question while simultaneously responding as if you don't know the answer (and are an idiot or something of the sort for not knowing).


My instinctive reaction to the question was, and is, that you should know the answer intuitively (or, at the very least, as a result of inductive reasoning based on your interaction with women), and if that's the case, why ask the question? However, giving the matter more thought, it was also easy for me to see why you would not want to be viewed as having presumed that you know what it's like to be a woman. Hence the "damned if you do and damned if you don't" comment earlier.


And, for the record, stating that the questions were "mostly (but not entirely) rhetorical" does little to save you in that regard, because you started the paragraph by asking (presumably earnestly) for women's opinions on the matter, while having already presumed the answers. It makes the questions appear disingenuous, whether you intended them to be or not.


Again, I don't fault you for your post/viewpoint/questions (for whatever that's worth), but I also understand (or believe I do) where the reactions came from.
5.29.2007 4:01pm
lucia (mail) (www):
Interestingly enough, the fact that many readers assume EV must know the answer to the question before we female answer suggests the answer is "Hell, no. Menstruation is not a bonding experience. Who would even come up with such an idiotic idea?"

Of course, there may be some woman somewhere who thinks it's a bonding experience. Of course, it's not quite clear who she might be bonding with!

Of course, if I'm wrong, I'm sure people in the women's studies department could set me right.
5.29.2007 6:38pm