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Conference Participation

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You seem to have decided that I can't use this forum as a place to vent my own insecurity AND be "wired in" at the same time. I would not agree. Not sure what the Extension School has to do with that, either; perhaps you can elucidate that point.

 

I would not argue that the world described by Blum or Winks was incorrect, but I would say that it is, in both cases, dated by at least 10 (but really closer to 30-40) years. 

 

Of course "Machiavellian" is my word. That's pretty clear from both sentence structure and context. That's not me "putting words in your posts", that's me letting you know how you've come across.

 

This is my point from the start: there are interpersonal politics at an Ivy, like the rest of academia, and it is often hard to separate those politics from unwritten rules of behavior, etc., which is where this thread started. Your professors are going to be very good at those politics; it's a large part of how they got where they are. I think we basically agree up to this point. My objection is that I have not seen evidence of this sort of thing among the graduate students. I suggested against looking at the sources you offered because I think they would give the wrong idea whatever they said. Go to school, be yourself, learn by doing. Don't worry about how you're supposed to be acting according to some external source. 

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You seem to have decided that I can't use this forum as a place to vent my own insecurity AND be "wired in" at the same time. I would not agree. Not sure what the Extension School has to do with that, either; perhaps you can elucidate that point.

 

I would not argue that the world described by Blum or Winks was incorrect, but I would say that it is, in both cases, dated by at least 10 (but really closer to 30-40) years. 

 

Of course "Machiavellian" is my word. That's pretty clear from both sentence structure and context. That's not me "putting words in your posts", that's me letting you know how you've come across.

 

This is my point from the start: there are interpersonal politics at an Ivy, like the rest of academia, and it is often hard to separate those politics from unwritten rules of behavior, etc., which is where this thread started. Your professors are going to be very good at those politics; it's a large part of how they got where they are. I think we basically agree up to this point. My objection is that I have not seen evidence of this sort of thing among the graduate students. I suggested against looking at the sources you offered because I think they would give the wrong idea whatever they said. Go to school, be yourself, learn by doing. Don't worry about how you're supposed to be acting according to some external source. 

 

 

Ok this did get a bit too personal, and I did not help. 

 

Sigaba: Whether or not you intended to, at least two people deep into graduate school with lots of conference experience (at least for the grad school board, obviously we are not faculty) interpret your advice as at least somewhat 'machiavellian'.  At this point, I honestly don't think that is what you intended, but it did come off that way when I first read it. 

 

Generally I will say, how people interact with faculty (from other institutions) at conferences versus interacting with other grad students, is obviously very different.  While eventually you fill find some faculty who are very informal and great to have drinks and laughs with at conferences, this is a relationship you develop, so unless you are someone who feels they aren't naturally great at social cues, maybe a book or two could be useful to navigating this world.  In general, I think it's unnecessary and could put unnecessary pressure on these situations.  If you are talking to the leader in your field, don't start with humor, etc.  Don't be an idiot.  Also, talk to your adviser.  These boards can be great sounding boards, but all of this stuff is best trusted to more experienced sources than other grad students. 

 

Around other grad students, if you come off as a calculating or too big for you britches, a lot of people will talk crap about you behind your back and think you're weird.  Conferences are potentially high pressure situations, because of big name faculty attendence, etc. so hanging with and meeting other grad students is a way to make you feel better in the face of this.  I have a decent amount of conference friends now, and it's not because I talk philosophy all the time or politics.  It's because I like to relax, make jokes, and discuss the shared experience of graduate school with people at other schools in between these higher pressure situations. 

 

Unwritten rules for academia are similar to most unwritten rules for any professional, social situtation.  Don't be rude or pretentious.  Don't be profane.  Don't behave to0 big for your britches.  Complement people without being fake.  Ask questions.  Behave professionally. Academics are primarily normal people.  They don't like the same things that everyone else dislikes.

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Threads such as this are a good reminder why it's generally a bad idea to post too much (any??) personal information. 

 

A good lessen in general.  I monitor my words a bit, because I have exposed my identity in my signature.

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Back to OP's question.

 

For example:

 

At conferences, expect to divide your time between socializing and attending panels.  It takes a few conferences to find out your tolerance level of how many panels you can attend without going through a "post-big conference illness" (as defined by feeling hungover, laying in your bed a day, and not wanting to do anything with academia for a whole week).

 

Don't bother complimenting a senior scholar how amazing his/her work is.  They really... DO...NOT... care in general.  If they do care, either they're very insecure or you two are actually on friendly basis and s/he gets that you're genuinely interested in him/her.

 

Spend most of the conference walking around by yourself- with confidence.  When people travel in pack, it makes it harder for others to approach and "interrupt" to talk to you specifically.  Moreover, you want to demonstrate independence.  You'll also want to try to get to a session a bit early and get your own seat- you never know who's going to sit down next to you.  Use that time well- make quick introductions.  If you're a woman, throw on your high heels to force yourself into a good posture that spells out assertiveness and confidence.  Dress well also helps.

 

Make use of the (long) coffee lines in the coffee shop at the hotel and make small talk about the weather or food or something neutral.

 

If you see someone sitting by him/herself and looks a little busy but you want to say hello, approach them carefully as you don't know exactly what they're preoccupied with.  Ask politely, "Please excuse me if I'm interrupting but I would like to speak with you if possible about J.  I'm TMP and from X University.  Do you have a few minutes?"  Most of the time, people don't mind small interruptions, as long as they're short.

 

There are others that I can mention.  But all in all, you'll want to be very observant of your surroundings and do a lot of people watching.  It's okay to sit nearby and "pretend" to read the conference program or whatever ads you get in your tote bag while actually watching.

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I agree with most of what TMP said. However, I find the "heels" comment to be rather sexist. Women do not need heels to appear confident... if that makes YOU feel that way, great... but women are under no obligation to wear heels (or dresses, or make-up). Besides, teetering around in heels when you're not used to them would have the opposite effect.

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I agree with most of what TMP said. However, I find the "heels" comment to be rather sexist. Women do not need heels to appear confident... if that makes YOU feel that way, great... but women are under no obligation to wear heels (or dresses, or make-up). Besides, teetering around in heels when you're not used to them would have the opposite effect.

 

Is it really "rather sexist"?  I think TMP is just stating an opinion.  Feel free to disagree with her, but sexist is rather loaded language for sugesting that one wear heels.

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Personally, since I'm already 5'9", my wearing heels comes across as overkill and tends to make me uncomfortably taller than most men. It can be very awkward to go up to a respected scholar in your field to shake his hand, only to find out that with heels on you're half a foot taller than him. Some (but not all) men react uncomfortably or negatively to this (and show it by immediately making efforts to get you to sit down or refusing to meet your eye so that they don't have to look up), so I prefer to go with flats, at least in professional situations.

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Is it really "rather sexist"? I think TMP is just stating an opinion. Feel free to disagree with her, but sexist is rather loaded language for sugesting that one wear heels.

In my opinion, telling women to wear heels (as advice in order to gain respect in academia or to be considered acceptably dressed) is sexist.

It's sexist because it isn't a general statement like, wear smart clothes, be well groomed... it singles out WOMEN. The poster stated that for WOMEN appear confident and be taken seriously, they must wear an item that is both gendered and sexualized, and that isn't healthy for people to wear to begin with. High heels are not like other business attire (ties, jackets, blouses) because they cause physical damage to women's bodies. They are also not required for anyone to be presentable. Statements such as those promote the idea that women only inspire respect when conforming to harmful gender norms.

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Whatever you'd like.  I'm 5'2" and I don't want to be looked down.  My adviser is probably 5'11" and she still puts on heels (low-medium) in professional settings.   It was only a suggestion if you can find wearing heels to be comfortable.

 

(By the way, is saying "put on a tie" sexist as "put on your heels"?)

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Whatever you'd like.  I'm 5'2" and I don't want to be looked down.  My adviser is probably 5'11" and she still puts on heels (low-medium) in professional settings.   It was only a suggestion if you can find wearing heels to be comfortable.

 

(By the way, is saying "put on a tie" sexist as "put on your heels"?)

 

1. Women can and do wear ties when they wear menswear-inspired styles. 

2. Sexism is an institution based on categories of privilege (in this case, gender-based). In the United States, you cannot be sexist against men anymore than you can be racist against whites. Prejudice =/= sexism. 

3. Ties don't (to my knowledge) cause body parts to be deformed, or make people prone to accidents. Wearing high heels is harmful to women's bodies. 

4. If you're asking whether I think it's wrong to single out men as having to wear ties, the answer is yes. Ties are not considered formal or even business wear in all cultural contexts... it's simply western convention. 

Edited by CageFree

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2. Sexism is an institution based on categories of privilege (in this case, gender-based). In the United States, you cannot be sexist against men anymore than you can be racist against whites. Prejudice =/= sexism. 

 

I look forward to your new theoretical text on prejudicial ideologies, because these statements fly in the face of how many historians of racism (can't speak too heavily on gender as that is not my field) consider the term.  George fredrickson defines racism as merely the belief that someone is inherently and unchangably different, usually with different meaning inferior.  In my mind, these are ideas anybody could hold about anybody else.

 

Are you sure you didn't just jump down somebody's throat for makeing a relatively, innocuous fashion suggestion and now that people are calling you out for it, you refuse to admit that you were being rude? 

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Whatever you'd like.  I'm 5'2" and I don't want to be looked down.  My adviser is probably 5'11" and she still puts on heels (low-medium) in professional settings.   It was only a suggestion if you can find wearing heels to be comfortable.

 

(By the way, is saying "put on a tie" sexist as "put on your heels"?)

 

 

I'm 5' even, so I feel your pain. It's certainly a personal preference whether to wear heels or not, but it's pretty clear you were just making a suggestion based on good intentions. I, for one, feel empowered when I wear heels because I can actually look people in the eye...or at least closer to their face than when I'm in flats.

 

I won't pretend gender stereotypes don't exist, because that's silly and utopian. Obviously there are gendered biases at play--against both women AND men--and these are certainly worthy of discussion. But I am wary creating symbols of oppression in spaces where they don't need to exist, like this thread (we can discuss the oppressive nature of heels in relation to consumerism and female identity outside of this thread, certainly). Intent does not wash away all sins, but it does mean something. TMP's intent was not the perpetuation of gender hierarchy, but to give friendly advice based on her personal experience.

 

OP--it's pretty clear TMP meant that you should dress professionally and in a manner that makes you feel confident. You don't want to wear clothes that make you feel insecure and out of place in a setting that can already be intimidating. Replace heels with your nicest slacks, blazer, tie, or whatever piece of clothing makes you feel like you're on top of the world. 

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I look forward to your new theoretical text on prejudicial ideologies, because these statements fly in the face of how many historians of racism (can't speak too heavily on gender as that is not my field) consider the term.  George fredrickson defines racism as merely the belief that someone is inherently and unchangably different, usually with different meaning inferior.  In my mind, these are ideas anybody could hold about anybody else.

 

Are you sure you didn't just jump down somebody's throat for makeing a relatively, innocuous fashion suggestion and now that people are calling you out for it, you refuse to admit that you were being rude? 

 

From Ch. 1 of "Racism: a Short History." (Friedrickson):

 

"The aim of this book is to present in a concise fashion the story of racism's rise and decline (although not yet, unfortunately, its fall) from the Middle Ages to the present. To achieve this, I have tried to give racism a more precise definition than mere ethnocentric dislike and distrust of the Other. [...] Somewhere between the view that racism is a peculiar modern idea without much historical precedent and the notion that it is simply a manifestation of the ancient phenomenon of tribalism or xenophobia may lie a working definition that covers more than scientific or biological racism but less than the kind of group prejudice based on culture, religion, or simply a sense of family or kinship."

 

"But racism as I conceive it is not merely an attitude or set of beliefs; it also expresses itself in the practices, institutions, and structures that a sense of deep difference justifies or validates. Racism, therefore, is more than theorizing about human differences or thinking badly of a group over which one has no control. It either directly sustains or proposes to establish a racial order, a permanent group hierarchy that is believed to reflect the laws of nature or the decrees of God."

 

"My theory or conception of racism, therefore, has two components: difference and power. It originates from a mind-set that regards "them" as different from "us" in ways that are permanent and unbridgeable. This sense of difference provides a motive or rationale for using our power advantage to treat the ethnoracial Other in ways that we would regard as cruel or unjust if applied to members of our own group. The possible consequences of this nexus of attitude and action range from unofficial but pervasive social discrimination at one end of the spectrum to genocide at the other, with government-sanctioned segregation, colonial subjugation, exclusion, forced deportation (or "ethnic cleansing"), and enslavement among the other variations on the theme. In all manifestations of racism from the mildest to the most severe, what is being denied is the possibility that the racializers and the racialized can coexist in the same society, except perhaps on the basis of domination and subordination. Also rejected is any notion that individuals can obliterate ethnoracial difference by changing their identities."

 

Also, I would recommend reading Eduardo Bonilla-Silva's "Rethinking Racism: Toward a Structural Interpretation."  American Sociological Review, Vol. 62, No. 3 (Jun., 1997), pp. 465-480

 
Regarding MY statement, I clearly prefaced it with "I find this statement...," which indicates an opinion about a SPECIFIC statement to which I objected. I stand by my opinion. I did not jump down anyone's throat... you, however, have. Twice. The second time around, you even resorted to namecalling and mockery, neither of which are necessary or productive.
 
Now, can we get back to talking about conferences?
Edited by CageFree

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From Ch. 1 of "Racism: a Short History." (Friedrickson):

 

"The aim of this book is to present in a concise fashion the story of racism's rise and decline (although not yet, unfortunately, its fall) from the Middle Ages to the present. To achieve this, I have tried to give racism a more precise definition than mere ethnocentric dislike and distrust of the Other. [...] Somewhere between the view that racism is a peculiar modern idea without much historical precedent and the notion that it is simply a manifestation of the ancient phenomenon of tribalism or xenophobia may lie a working definition that covers more than scientific or biological racism but less than the kind of group prejudice based on culture, religion, or simply a sense of family or kinship."

 

"But racism as I conceive it is not merely an attitude or set of beliefs; it also expresses itself in the practices, institutions, and structures that a sense of deep difference justifies or validates. Racism, therefore, is more than theorizing about human differences or thinking badly of a group over which one has no control. It either directly sustains or proposes to establish a racial order, a permanent group hierarchy that is believed to reflect the laws of nature or the decrees of God."

 

"My theory or conception of racism, therefore, has two components: difference and power. It originates from a mind-set that regards "them" as different from "us" in ways that are permanent and unbridgeable. This sense of difference provides a motive or rationale for using our power advantage to treat the ethnoracial Other in ways that we would regard as cruel or unjust if applied to members of our own group. The possible consequences of this nexus of attitude and action range from unofficial but pervasive social discrimination at one end of the spectrum to genocide at the other, with government-sanctioned segregation, colonial subjugation, exclusion, forced deportation (or "ethnic cleansing"), and enslavement among the other variations on the theme. In all manifestations of racism from the mildest to the most severe, what is being denied is the possibility that the racializers and the racialized can coexist in the same society, except perhaps on the basis of domination and subordination. Also rejected is any notion that individuals can obliterate ethnoracial difference by changing their identities."

 

Also, I would recommend reading Eduardo Bonilla-Silva's "Rethinking Racism: Toward a Structural Interpretation."  American Sociological Review, Vol. 62, No. 3 (Jun., 1997), pp. 465-480

 
Regarding MY statement, I clearly prefaced it with "I find this statement...," which indicates an opinion about a SPECIFIC statement to which I objected. I stand by my opinion. I did not jump down anyone's throat... you, however, have. Twice. The second time around, you even resorted to namecalling and mockery, neither of which are necessary or productive.
 
Now, can we get back to talking about conferences?

 

 

Fair enough.  I haven't read that book in a while, and I remembered parts of Fredrickson clearly incorrectly.  I will look into that article for sure.  I don't agree that racism is exclusively structural racism.  My mockery was pretty light.  I tend to take ALL CAPS as implying intensity or colloquially jumping down someone's throat.  Sexist is strong terminology in a world were any -ist is the preverbial scarlet letter, not to mention you yourself define it as TMP contributing to structural sexism vis-a-vis high-heel suggestion.

 

It is worth noting the passage you sight from fredrickson implies that not everyone believes only racism exists when it supports a hierarchical structure or else he would not be defining it in opposition to non-structural racism.

Edited by Riotbeard

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To be fair, he does also define racist as a belief that the other be inherently, unchangably inferior (in contrast to what he calls culturalist) and as you point out using this belief to create a hierarchical structure.  I am going off memory, but I don't think TMP's shoe suggestion implied inherent female inferiority. 

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Riotbeard, if you're interested in actually continuing a real conversation about feminist theory I'd be happy to continue over PM. This thread is about conferences and if you don't mind, I'd like to get back to the topic. Thanks.

Edited by CageFree

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Riotbeard, if you're interested in actually continuing a real conversation about feminist theory I'd be happy to continue over PM. This thread is about conferences and if you don't mind, I'd like to get back to the topic. Thanks.

 

Sure thing:)  I do also apologize for contributing to it getting out of hand and attribute it to the evil of communicating anonymously via text.

Edited by Riotbeard

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This thread is perhaps not a fantastic piece of advice on how to behave at conferences, but it is a stunning example of how conferences sometimes go.

 

Haha!

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